Waters, Ethel (1900-1977)

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Waters, Ethel (1900-1977)

Born in turn-of-the-century Chester, Pennsylvania, black singer-actor-entertainer Ethel Waters presided for nearly fifty years as one of America's most celebrated performers. She began her career as a singer in 1917 at the Lincoln Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland. Billed as "Sweet Mama Stringbean" during her early years as a "shimmy dancer" and robust singer of heart-rending songs, her work traversed stage, movie screen, radio, and television. Her memorable credits include numerous Broadway reviews, the stage and screen versions of Cabin the Sky (1943) and Member of the Wedding (1952), the 1949 film classic Pinky, and the title role in the Beulah television series (1950-52).

—Pamala S. Deane

Further Reading:

Waters, Ethel, with Charles Samuels, His Eye Is on the Sparrow: An Autobiography. New York, Pyramid, 1967.

Knaack, Twila, Ethel Waters: I Touched a Sparrow. Waco, Texas, Word Books, 1978.

Young, William C. Famous Actors and Actresses on the American Stage. New York, R. R. Bowker, 1975.