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Ethel Waters (1896–1977)


The child of a teenage rape victim, Ethel Waters grew up in the slums of Philadelphia and neighboring cities, seldom living anywhere for more than a few weeks at a time. "No one raised me, " she recollected, "I just ran wild." She excelled not only at looking after herself, but also at singing and dancing; she began performing at church functions, ... See full bio »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

Known For

Cabin in the Sky Petunia Jackson
(1943)
The Member of the Wedding Berenice Sadie Brown
(1952)
Pinky Dicey Johnson
(1949)
Cairo Cleona Jones
(1942)

Filmography

Hide Hide Show Show Actress (29 credits)
 1972 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law (TV Series)
Aunt Harriet
- Run, Carol, Run (1972) ... Aunt Harriet
 1970 Daniel Boone (TV Series)
Rachael
- Mamma Cooper (1970) ... Rachael
 1967 Vacation Playhouse (TV Series)
Carrie
- You're Only Young Twice (1967) ... Carrie
 1963 The Great Adventure (TV Series)
Rit
- Go Down, Moses (1963) ... Rit
 1961 Route 66 (TV Series)
Jennie Henderson
- Goodnight Sweet Blues (1961) ... Jennie Henderson
 1959 Whirlybirds (TV Series)
Sarah
- The Big Lie (1959) ... Sarah
 1959 The Sound and the Fury
Dilsey
 1958 The Heart Is a Rebel
Gladys
 1957 Carib Gold
Mom
 1957 Matinee Theatre (TV Series)
- Sing for Me (1957)
 1956 Saturday Spectacular: Manhattan Tower (TV Movie)
Sunday School Teacher
 1955 Playwrights '56 (TV Series)
Dilsey
- The Sound and the Fury (1955) ... Dilsey
 1955 General Electric Theater (TV Series)
Mother
- Winner by Decision (1955) ... Mother
 1955 Climax! (TV Series)
Aunt Kate
- The Dance (1955) ... Aunt Kate
 1955 Your Play Time (TV Series)
Hannah
- Speaking to Hannah (1955) ... Hannah
 1954 Encounter (TV Series)
Katherine
- The Grass Harp (1954) ... Katherine
 1952 The Member of the Wedding
Berenice Sadie Brown
 1952 The Jackie Gleason Show (TV Series)
Guest Jazz Vocalist
- Pickles (1952) ... Guest Jazz Vocalist
 1950-1951 Beulah (TV Series)
Beulah
- The Play (1951) ... Beulah
- Beulah and the Stuffed Shirts (1951) ... Beulah
- Beulah and the Honeymooners (1951) ... Beulah
- Puppy Love (1951) ... Beulah
- Beulah Meets Aunt Mildred (1951) ... Beulah
 1949 Pinky
Dicey Johnson
 1943 Stage Door Canteen
Ethel Waters
 1943 Cabin in the Sky
Petunia Jackson
 1942 Cairo
Cleona Jones
 1942 Tales of Manhattan
Esther
 1934 Gift of Gab
Ethel Waters
 1934 Bubbling Over (Short)
Ethel Peabody
 1933 Change Your Luck (Short)
Ethel
 1933 Rufus Jones for President (Short)
Mother of Rufus Jones
 1929 On with the Show!
Ethel
Show Show Soundtrack (38 credits)
Show Show Self (41 credits)
Show Show Archive footage (22 credits)

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Personal Details

Other Works:

Stage: Appeared (as "Petunia Jackson") in "Cabin in the Sky" on Broadway. Musical fantasy. Music by Vernon Duke. Book by Lynn Root (based on his story "Little Joe"). Lyrics by John La Touche. Vocal arrangements by Hugh Martin. Musical Director: Max Meth. Music orchestrated by Domenico Savino, Charles Cook, Fod Livingston and Nathan ... See more »

Publicity Listings:

7 Print Biographies | See more »
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Did You Know?

Personal Quote:

I just let singing out the way it comes to me. Once the orchestra gets used to letting themselves go, everything works out fine. The song is really the main thing, the song and the way you sing it. See more »

Trivia:

October 15, 1953 was designated "Ethel Waters Day" in New York City by Mayor Vincent R. Impellitteri. Waters was honored in a City Hall ceremony by the Mayor and the Negro Actors Guild for her "limitless and tireless efforts" in advancing the country's democratic ideals at home and abroad. Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, founders of the Guild, were on hand for the occasion. See more »

Nickname:

Sweet Mama Stringbean

Star Sign:

Scorpio

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