Waters, Ethel (1896–1977)
Waters, Ethel (1896–1977)
Oscar-nominated African-American singer and actress, enormously popular on both stage and screen, who brought black art into the white world and was a towering presence in American entertainment for decades . Born Ethel Perry on October 31, 1896, in Chester, Pennsylvania; died on September 1, 1977, in Chatsworth, California; illegitimate daughter of Louise Anderson who had been raped at knifepoint at age 12 by John Waters; had one stepsister, Genevieve Howard; married Merritt "Buddy" Punsley, in 1913 (divorced 1915); married Clyde Matthews, around 1930 (divorced around 1933); married Edward Mallory (dates unknown); no children.
Received a minimal education before going to work as a cleaning woman and laundress at age eight; at 17, began appearing in traveling vaudeville shows and in nightclubs, performing and popularizing blues songs which have since become standards of the genre; starred on Broadway in a number of successful musicals and dramatic plays (starting 1927); generally credited with being the first African-American woman to receive star billing in legitimate theater and, later, on screen; though nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film Pinky (1949), is best remembered for her performance in both the stage and screen versions of Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding; published two autobiographies before her death (1977).
On with the Show (1929); Gift of Gab (1934); Tales of Manhattan (1942); Cairo (1942); Cabin in the Sky (1943); Stage Door Canteen (1943); Pinky (1949); The Member of the Wedding (1952); The Heart Is a Rebel (1956); The Sound and the Fury (1959).
The dressing room at New York's Empire Theater may have seemed empty to the stage manager who called out the five-minute warning one night in 1939, but for the actress to whom he delivered his message, the room was crowded with the memories of some of the great ladies of the stage who had heard the same message in that room over the years—Katharine Cornell, Ethel Barrymore, Helen Hayes . Now, Ethel Waters, whom African-American audiences had known for years as a singer and bawdy comedian, was about to step in front of an elegant, mostly white Broadway audience for her debut as the leading lady of a dramatic play, Mamba's Daughters. "I could have looked back over my shoulder and blown a kiss to all my yesterdays in show business," Waters remembered many years later. "That was the night of my professional life." The audience must have agreed, for at the end of the evening Waters received 17 curtain calls.
There was a time when Ethel Waters would have laughed at the idea of making a living in show business, despite the fact that she had been entertaining audiences on the black vaudeville circuits of the early 20th century as "Sweet Mama Stringbean." During those years, show business had merely been an escape from the poverty and conflicts of a troubled childhood in and around Philadelphia. Waters was the illegitimate daughter of Louise Anderson , who had been raped at knifepoint at the age of 12 by a man named John Waters, a "mixed colored" with both white and black grandparents. Louise gave birth to her daughter on October 31, 1896, in Chester, Pennsylvania, and soon left the child in the care of her own mother, Sally Anderson . Sally instilled in Ethel a deep mistrust of white people or anyone "bright-skinned," as John Waters had been. Even the name "Waters" was banned from Sally's household, so Ethel spent most of her early years as Ethel Perry, taking the last name of a man her grandmother said was one of her early suitors. Ethel always considered Sally as her mother, even referring to her as "Mom" while Louise was "Momweeze." Louise, who later married and had a second child with her husband, made only occasional visits to see her first child and would maintain a strained relationship with Ethel until both were well along in years. In addition to a wariness toward whites, Sally Anderson gave her granddaughter a second lifelong preoccupation, one that would eventually cancel out the first—a deeply felt spiritual yearning that stemmed from Sally's devout Roman Catholicism, the "rock and the light" of Ethel Waters' life.
Although Ethel maintained a deep respect for "Mom" throughout her life, most of her childhood was spent on the streets of Chester and, later, Philadelphia, where she often stayed with an aunt while Sally Anderson was "living in" with white employers. "I never was a child," she once said. "I never was coddled, or liked, or understood by my family. I never felt I belonged." The few warm memories Waters had of her childhood revolved around singing, a talent shared by her numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of whom harmonized and sang unaccompanied. Waters loved the stories the songs told and was thrilled at her first public appearance, at age five, in a children's program staged by a small church in Philadelphia. She appeared as "Baby Star," reciting poetry and singing a simple melody her aunt had taught her.
Of more direct influence, however, was the street life of Philadelphia's red-light district, not far from her aunt's home. During a year spent in the ward known as the "Bloody 8th" when she was six, Ethel ran errands for local brothels and
kept a lookout for police while the prostitutes did business, claiming later it was these very activities that kept her away from drugs or alcohol. "Whatever moral qualities I have," she once observed, "come, I'm afraid, from all the sordidness and evil I observed firsthand as a child. By the time I was seven, I knew all about sex and life in the raw." At eight, Ethel was put to work for a white woman doing household chores, but she soon returned to the streets, leading grandmother Sally to place her in a Catholic school in Philadelphia when Ethel was nine. Many years later, Waters remembered the love with which she was treated by the nuns and the kindness shown to her by the parish priest who, rather than reveal anger or shock at Ethel's first confession of her sins, merely told her not to swear anymore and to pray. Not long after, at a children's revival meeting, Ethel remembered, "Love flooded my heart and I knew I had found God and that now and for always I would have an ally, a friend close by to strengthen me and cheer me on."
Ethel's newfound faith was sorely tested as she matured. Living conditions remained as stark and unsanitary as ever, and years later Waters would recall her childhood dream of sleeping alone in a bed free of lice and fleas. Her relatives drank to excess and bickered constantly, so much so that Waters once pleaded with the nuns at school to put her in an orphanage, only giving up her request when grandmother Sally finally took her home to Chester to live. Then came trouble with men.
I was scared to work for white people. I didn't know very much about them, and what I knew I didn't like.
Tall and lithe by the time she was just 11 years old, Waters found herself fending off the unwanted attentions of older men. Her grandmother felt compelled to accompany her granddaughter to the dance halls where Ethel had already begun winning singing and dancing contests and was being given free admission in exchange for dance lessons for the clientele. But even Sally failed to protect Ethel from the wooing of a 23-year-old man named Merritt Punsley, whom Ethel married when she was 13 years old, in 1909. Punsley was intensely jealous of his new young bride and strove to keep her away from her friends and her dancing, often by using his fists to impose his will. After a year, the two separated, and were divorced in 1911.
Waters' next chance to escape the poverty and turmoil of her family didn't come until six years later, when she attended a Halloween dance in Philadelphia. By now, she later recalled, "I had developed into a really agile shimmy shaker. I sure knew how to roll and quiver, and my hips would become whirling dervishes." The crowd at the party called her back for three encores before she was approached by two song-and-dance men from the vaudeville circuit named Braxton and Nugent, who offered her a paid job singing and dancing at the Lincoln Theater in Baltimore for ten dollars a week. It was as "Sweet Mama Stringbean" that Waters introduced W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," the song that would become her trademark during these vaudeville years; she sang it in a way that was new to audiences used to the powerfully emotional styles of blues queens like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith . "They loved them and all the other shouters," Waters said. "I could always riff and jam and growl, but I never had that loud approach." Instead, Waters sang the number in a soft, clear, bell-like voice, full of understated pain and suffering at the loss of her man. The approach worked to such effect that the stage was littered with coins and bills when she finished, a phenomenon repeated each night Waters played at the Lincoln, sometimes doing her first show at nine in the morning and continuing well into the night.
With word spreading about the new singer from Philadelphia, Waters joined up with two sisters, Maggie and Jo Hill , to form an act with which she toured the black vaudeville circuit, playing theaters like the old Monogram in Chicago, as well as smaller venues in Lima, Ohio, Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. Within six months, advance publicity for "The Hill Sisters" had given way to banners proclaiming, COMING! SWEET MAMA STRINGBEAN IN PERSON, SINGING ST. LOUIS BLUES!
But Waters' experiences away from the stage only seemed to prove Sally Anderson's warnings about whites. Ethel labored under a double burden, being known as a "Yankee nigger," and would often tell the story of the car crash in which she was involved in Birmingham, Alabama. She and four other performers from her current show went on a joyride at the invitation of a chauffeur who had commandeered his boss' car for the evening. Waters' right leg was severely injured in the crash and one of the other passengers was pinned under the car, but the two white men who were the first to happen on the scene refused to help until Ethel pleaded with them; and Waters claimed that the emergency room doctor, also white, told her, "This is what all you niggers should get when you wreck white people's cars." On the road, the troupe was often forced to stay in brothels, there being no hotels open to them; and Ethel would never forget the family in Macon, Georgia, with whom she was staying who learned their only son had been lynched by a white mob for talking back to a white man. The boy's body was thrown into the lobby of Waters' theater as a warning to "uppity" blacks. Ethel, however, merely considered bigoted whites as "odd and feeble-minded," and preferred to remember the many whites who were kind and helpful to her during her time touring the vaudeville circuit. She reserved her most venomous anger for her own people, so-called "society Negroes" who patronized or openly scorned less socially mobile African-Americans, including herself. "We have lived through so much together," Waters once said, "that I'll never understand how some of us who have one way or another been able to lift ourselves a little above the mass of colored people can be so insanely brutal as to try to knock the hell out of our own blood brothers and sisters."
Despite her professional success during her tour, Waters never considered it more than a stroke of luck that would come to an end sooner or later, as it did by 1920. Back in Philadelphia, she moved in with her relatives and went to work in a restaurant, sure that "some sense of order and good meals at regular times of the day," as she verbalized her dreams, would come by one day finding a job as a lady's maid to a wealthy white woman. But show business beckoned again when the white owner of a Philadelphia saloon, Barney Gordon, offered her a singing job at $15 a week. Gordon, who catered to a mostly black clientele and who had been told about Ethel by some of them, was the first white man from whom Waters accepted employment and money. Soon after she began work at the saloon, another offer came for a week's work at Harlem's Lincoln Theater. Waters found herself plunged into the excitement and opportunity offered by what was then the center of black entertainment and culture. She introduced new numbers into her act, including more pop-oriented material like "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" and "Rose of Washington Square," along with her old standby, "St. Louis Blues." By the time she had finished the Lincoln Theater dates and gone to work at a nightclub called Edmond's Cellar, on 132nd Street, New York's café society, black and white, traveled uptown to hear her. During the summers of the early 1920s, Waters appeared in Atlantic City, New Jersey, then a hotbed of jazz and blues, where she sang for the first time to a mostly white audience at Rafe's Paradise. Even Sophie Tucker , that "red hot Mama" of the jazz era, came out to hear her. Waters relished telling the story of being asked up to Tucker's hotel room, where she was paid to sing so Sophie could study Ethel's phrasing and movements.
The heyday of blues and jazz brought Waters her first recording contract with W.C. Handy's Black Swan Records. Ethel received $100 for each recording, a considerable sum in those days. Black Swan's A&R man at the time was Fletcher Henderson, who soon left the company to form the swing band that would gain nationwide fame during the 1930s. Henderson persuaded Waters to go out on tour with him for six months as the "girl singer" for his Jazz Masters. The increased exposure brought Ethel an audition for the African-American musical, The Chocoate Dandies, in 1924. The producers of the show thought she wasn't aristocratic enough which, as it turned out, was fortunate. The show was a disaster and closed after two performances. Waters did manage to land a job with a touring African-American revue called Hello 1919!, which played to mostly white audiences in the Midwest and convinced her that her future lay not with vaudeville or as a nightclub singer, but with legitimate musical theater. Her hopes were confirmed by her many offers from white producers to appear in major productions, but all were shows in which she would be the only black performer, and Waters turned them down. "The very idea of appearing on Broadway in a cast of ofays made me cringe in my boots," she said.
It was a song-and-dance man whom Waters knew from her Harlem club days, appropriately named Earl Dancer, who persuaded Ethel to bring her talents to a wider audience. "If you only let the white people hear you sing," he prophetically told her, "they'd love you for the rest of your life." Although Waters was skeptical, Dancer convinced her to work up an act with him in which she sang the same blues numbers she'd done for black audiences, but modified with a certain amount of extemporaneous talking to emphasize the story each number told. Opening at the Kedzie Theater in Chicago, one of the premier theaters on the mainstream vaudeville circuit, Waters was convinced at the end of their act that it had been a failure. Unlike black audiences, who yelled, screamed, and stomped their feet in approval, this white audience merely applauded politely. She was packing her bags for New York when the theater management appeared in her dressing room and offered Waters and Dancer $350 a week—a sum that would be raised to $500 per week by the time their contract ended. Returning to New York, Waters and Earl Dancer played all the big vaudeville houses, in which Ethel once again introduced non-blues numbers into her act—including "My Man," then being sung to great acclaim by Fanny Brice in the Ziegfeld Follies, and a number Waters sang entirely in Yiddish. But it was back in Chicago that Ethel Waters finally came to the attention of a national audience, with her performance in 1924's Plantation Revue. Ashton Stevens, an influential, nationally syndicated theater critic, praised her talents so much that Ethel's future on the stage was assured.
By the mid-1920s, Waters had become the toast of New York's theater world, appearing in her first Broadway musical, Africana, which was produced by Earl Dancer, as well as appearing at the city's most chic night spots and receiving top billing for a charity show at the venerable Palace Theater with such headliners as Will Rogers and Katharine Cornell. Now feeling more comfortable in the company of whites, Waters was the guest of honor at elegant Park Avenue dinner parties given by writer and social liberal Carl Van Vechten, where she hobnobbed with such theater luminaries as Noel Coward, Cole Porter, and Eugene O'Neill. Toward the end of the decade, she was earning more than $1,200 a week, recording with Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman, and appearing in her first film, the 1929 Warner Bros. musical On with the Show, in which she sang two numbers, "Am I Blue?" and "Birmingham Bertha." "Dressed to the nines," critic Donald Bogle later wrote of the film, "her energy and attitude ('don't mess with this chile,' is what she seems to be telling us) were wholly new to the American cinema." Early the next year, Waters married her second husband, Clyde Matthews, a Cleveland businessman who accompanied her on an eight-month European tour during which she played Paris, London, and Cannes. By now, Ethel could be amused at the white society matrons on the transatlantic voyage who avoided being anywhere near "Mrs. C.E. Matthews" until discovering she was the famous Ethel Waters, after which they besieged her with requests for autographs and invitations to tea.
Although the Depression had gripped the United States by the time Waters returned, her popularity was such that she was hardly affected. Almost immediately after arriving in New York, she took to the road again with a tour of the musical revue Rhapsody in Black, which played Washington and Chicago as well as Broadway; then appeared at Harlem's legendary Cotton Club, where she introduced Harold Arlen's "Stormy Weather"—a song Waters felt might have been written especially for her, since her marriage to Matthews had begun to fall apart. The two would become legally separated the next year, with a formal divorce following shortly thereafter. "I was telling things I couldn't frame in words," she said of the song's lyrics. "I was singing … the story of the wrongs and outrages done to me by people I had loved and trusted." In the Cotton Club audience one night was Irving Berlin, who approached her with an offer to appear in a new musical he had written called As Thousands Cheer. Although most of the show was an airy, thinly plotted musical revue, Berlin had written a poignant song called "Supper Time" for the show's second act—one of three numbers he gave to Waters. "Supper Time" is sung by a black woman who has just learned of her husband's lynching and is faced with the task of telling her children why their father will not be sharing the evening meal. Waters, remembering the family in Georgia whose son had been similarly killed, fought a last-minute attempt to drop the number from the show and brought the theater to complete silence on opening night. Audiences were astounded at her versatility, for her other numbers in the show—the infectious "Heat Wave" ("She started the heat wave by making her seat wave," wrote one wag) and the nostalgic "Harlem on My Mind"—were equally effective. "Ethel Waters had frankness, vitality, and grinning good humor that gave audiences complete confidence in anything she did," The New York Times' Brooks Atkinson told his readers. By the time As Thousands Cheer closed, Waters was the highest paid female performer then on Broadway, earning $1,000 a week. Atkinson was equally enthusiastic about Waters' work in her next revue, 1935's At Home Abroad, which was directed by Vincente Minnelli and co-starred comedian Bea Lillie . Waters was "a gleaming tower of regality," Atkinson wrote, "who knows how to make a song stand on tiptoe."
The reception given to "Supper Time," which Waters always felt she acted rather than sang, encouraged her to begin seeking dramatic roles in legitimate theater. It was a bold decision on her part, for at the time there were no leading African-American actresses, the only roles available to black women being minor parts as maids or other menials. It was a tribute to Waters' talent that several roles in major productions had been offered to her even before As Thousands Cheer, but none of them appealed to her. "Those plays never seemed quite true to life to me," she once pointed out. "The characters in them had either been created by white men or by Negro writers who had stopped thinking colored." But the exception proved to be DuBose Heyward, a Southern writer who had come to national attention with his novel Porgy (on which the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess was based) and who had adapted his second novel, Mamba's Daughters, with his wife Dorothy Heyward , for the stage. The work had an overpowering attraction for Waters, who saw her grandmother Sally in the Heywards' matriarch, Mamba, and her own mother, Louise, in Hagar, the character the Heywards wanted her to play. "All my life," she said, "I'd burned to tell the story of my mother's despair and long defeat, of Momweeze being hurt so by a world that then paid her no mind." Although few backers wanted to take on a dramatic play with an all-black cast and a leading actress with no dramatic experience, the Heywards eventually did raise the money when director Guthrie McClintic (Katharine Cornell's husband) agreed to helm the production. Mamba's Daughters opened in January 1939, co-starring Alberta Hunter and Canada Lee, to nearly unanimous praise. "In the playing of Ethel Waters," one reviewer wrote, "Hagar becomes magnificently like a force of nature." "Ethel Waters establishes herself as one of the finest actresses, black or white," wrote another. The one holdout was Brooks Atkinson, who cared neither for Ethel's performance nor the play itself, prompting a full-page ad in the Times taken out by Tallulah Bankhead , Oscar Hammerstein, Judith Anderson , and Ethel's old friend Carl Van Vechten, praising her performance and placing her in the top echelon of dramatic performers. More important, Waters had become the first black actress to appear in a leading role in a major dramatic production on Broadway.
The next year, she scored another triumph with her performance as Petunia in Vernon Duke's musical Cabin in the Sky, and this time Atkinson was back in her camp. "Ethel Waters … made playgoers very happy indeed with the gleam and gusto with which she sang 'Taking a Chance on Love,'" he enthused. But for most of the war years, Waters was in Hollywood, where she appeared in the film version of Cabin in the Sky, as well as 1942's Cairo and 1943's Stage Door Canteen. Now approaching 50, Waters had permanently shed the raunchy, earthy image of her Sweet Mama Stringbean days and had assumed the dignified air of a black matriarch. "In her hands," Bogle points out, "the mammy stereotype had been transformed into the black earth mother figure."
The time in Hollywood, however, proved a detriment to her career, largely because of a disastrous relationship with a much younger man whom Waters claimed was a "protégé." She accused
him in public of robbing her of some $10,000 in cash and $35,000 in jewelry while staying in her home. The negative publicity, generated when Waters filed formal charges and testified at the trial which sent the young man to prison, turned many former supporters against her. The incident was the beginning of a decline in her fortunes during the mid-1940s, professionally and personally. Movie roles dwindled, there were no offers from Broadway, and the Internal Revenue Service filed charges against her for back taxes it claimed Ethel owed on her income during the 1930s. Waters admitted she had been careless with her money ("Where I come from," she pointed out, "people don't get close enough to money to have a working acquaintance with it") and agreed to give back a sizeable portion of her earnings to the government. The first signs of the diabetes with which she would later be diagnosed began to plague her, and her weight increased dramatically in cruel contrast to the lissome Waters of 20 years before. Even worse, Ethel felt the religious faith which had sustained her for so long slipping away. "I knew I had hate in my heart," she said, "and that wasn't fair to God." By the end of World War II, Waters had moved back to Harlem and was living in a rooming house, trying to ignore the entertainment press' opinion that her career was over.
Fortunately, not everyone thought so. Offers to sing in small nightclubs outside New York sustained her, and Waters might have found some comfort after a show in Philadelphia in 1948 when her mother Louise appeared in her dressing room. The two had been estranged for many years, but now Louise hugged her daughter and told her, "You're pretty, Ethel, and you're a good daughter. [God] will bring you back." As if proving Louise right, Waters was cast the next year in the film role for which she would be nominated for an Oscar, the part of Aunt Dicey in 1949's Pinky, a then-controversial film about a light-skinned black girl who tries to pass for white. Ethel played the benevolent grandmother to Jeanne Crain 's Pinky, and opposite Ethel Barrymore 's portrayal of the crusty Miss Em. Both Ethels were nominated for Best Supporting Actress that year. As she had in Mamba's Daughters and her rendition of "Supper Time," Waters drew upon her own experiences to create her performance, in this instance recalling her grandmother, Sally Anderson. "As a dramatic actress, all I've ever done is remember," she once said. "I try to express the suffering or the joy I've known in my own lifetime; or the sorrow and happiness I've sensed in others."
The role for which Ethel Waters will always be remembered materialized the following year, although she originally turned down the part of the gospel-singing cook Berenice Sadie Brown in Carson McCullers ' The Member of the Wedding. As McCullers wrote her, Ethel felt, Berenice was a bitter woman "with no God in her"; and she objected to the original form of what would become the most famous scene in the play, in which Berenice sings to her two young, white charges, the roughneck girl Frankie and the sensitive boy John Henry. Waters later claimed that McCullers had Berenice singing a Russian lullaby to the children, and in a meeting with McCullers after her initial rejection of the role, Ethel told the author, "I never heard of a colored woman … who had ever sung a Russian ditty to a child!" When McCullers asked what BereniCE would sing, Ethel closed her eyes and softly began the African-American spiritual she had learned as a young girl back in Philadelphia, "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," which concluded with:
For Jesus is my portion,
My constant friend is He,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
Waters tactfully offered to delete the line containing "Jesus" in case it might offend some theatergoers, but by then, she later remembered, McCullers had crossed the room, buried her face in Waters' lap, and was crying; she later agreed to let Ethel adapt the role to her own liking. Directed by Harold Clurman, The Member of the Wedding opened on January 5, 1950, at the Empire Theater (where Waters had had her dramatic debut in Mamba's Daughters nearly 30 years before), with Julie Harris as Frankie and Brandon DeWilde as John Henry. The critical and popular reaction to the play was nearly universal praise, and Ethel brought Berenice to national audiences by touring with the show after it closed in New York and recreating her performance with the Broadway cast in Columbia's 1952 screen version of the play, directed by Fred Zinnemann, for which Julie Harris was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress.
From then on, Waters never lost her place as one of the entertainment world's best-loved performers. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, she kept busy with film work, starred in the television series "Beulah" (succeeded by Hattie McDaniel and then Louise Beavers ) and on "GE Theater," and toured with her own one-woman show, An Evening with Ethel Waters, during 1957. Also during this period, Waters met and married her third husband, Edward Mallory. Health problems continued to plague her, however, and when her weight rose to well over 300 pounds, she was warned that the strain on her heart might be fatal. Put on a strict diet, she slimmed down to 160 within two years. But best of all, she rediscovered her religious strength after meeting evangelist Billy Graham in New York in the late 1950s. Throughout the '60s and into the early '70s, Waters frequently appeared with the Billy Graham Crusade, speaking of her spiritual journey and never neglecting to sing "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." She always referred to Graham as "my precious child," and dedicated her second autobiography to him. To Me It's Wonderful was Ethel's way of reconciling herself to her own faults. She admitted lying about her age in her first book, in which she claimed to have been born four years later than she actually was, although she wrote that it began as an innocent attempt to help friends who needed her to join a group insurance plan which required all its members to have been born no earlier than 1900. More important, she finally laid to rest her troubled relationship with whites. "I hadn't always loved white people," she wrote. "I'll be candid, I did not love them! [But] if you stop to think about it, we're all colored. I'm one color and you may be another. And when I say there's no difference under the skin, I mean mainly that we're all sinners in need of a Savior. That same Savior who loves us all alike."
With her health in decline, Waters retired from show business and the Graham Crusade in the mid-1970s. On September 1, 1977, she died at her home in Chatsworth, California, of heart and liver failure, ending a 60-year career by rediscovering the spiritual peace that had sustained her as a child. "I was born naked and hungry, and [God] fed me and clothed me and made me strong enough to make my way on my own," she once said. "There is no greater destiny, I think."
Atkinson, Brooks. Broadway. NY: Macmillan, 1970.
Bogle, Donald. Blacks in American Film and Television. NY: Garland, 1988.
Waters, Ethel, with Charles Samuels. His Eye Is on the Sparrow. NY: Doubleday, 1951.
Waters, Ethel, with Eugenia Price and Joyce Blackburn. To Me It's Wonderful. NY: Harper and Row, 1972.
Norman Powers , writer-producer, Chelsea Lane Productions, New York, New York
"Waters, Ethel (1896–1977)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 16, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/waters-ethel-1896-1977
"Waters, Ethel (1896–1977)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Retrieved September 16, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/waters-ethel-1896-1977
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