Home / Biography / Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters

Biography

Jazz and blues vocalist who was simply also a stage and display screen actress and who all sang “Stormy Climate” and “Am We Blue?” When she was seventeen, she went to a outfit party in a nightclub where a number of the guests confident her to sing, assisting her to property her initial gig. She was the next African American to become nominated for an Academy Prize. She wedded Merritt Purnsley in 1910, after that Clyde Edward Matthews in 1929, and Ed Mallory in 1938. Waters released the 1933 film Rufus Jones for Leader, which starred Sammy Davis Jr.

Quick Facts


Full Name Ethel Waters
Date Of Birth October 31, 1896
Died September 1, 1977, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, United States
Place Of Birth Chester, PA
Profession Jazz Singer
Nationality American
Spouse Ed Mallory, Clyde Edward Matthews, Merritt Purnsley
Parents John Waters, Louise Anderson
Awards Grammy Hall of Fame
Nominations Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Movies On with the Show!, Rufus Jones for President, Tales of Manhattan, Cairo, Cabin in the Sky, The Member of the Wedding, Carib Gold, The Heart Is a Rebel, The Sound and the Fury, Bubbling Over
TV Shows Beulah
Star Sign Scorpio

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1Waters made headlines in January 1957 when she appeared on the game show "Break the $250,000 Bank" and announced that she was broke and needed the money to pay off back taxes owed to the I.R.S. She won $10,000 by the end of her second week (her winning category was religious music) when the show was abruptly canceled. She accepted the chance to appear on the new show, "Hold That Note" but she wasn't the winner when she appeared on the first episode of the new series.
2Universal Pictures announced in November 1968 that they would be making a movie version of Waters autobiography "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" from a screenplay by Peter S. Feibleman, with Julian Blaustein producing. It was planned to use an unknown to play Waters but the film was never made.
3There is a park named in her honor in her hometown of Chester, Pennsylvania. Ethel Waters Park is located at Third & Dock Streets and a plaque reading "dedicated to the city of Chester for the enjoyment of its people" was placed there May 1, 1972 following "Ethel Waters Week," which ran from April 24th to April 30, 1972. April 30, 1972 was proclaimed "Ethel Waters Day" in Pennsylvania by then governor Milton Shapp. Waters was on hand for the ceremonies.
4October 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.
5Often appeared on the various radio & TV shows of New York City media couple "Tex & Jinx" (John Reagan 'Tex' McCrary & Eugenia 'Jinx' Lincoln Falkenberg). Waters appeared as a regular on the Tex & Jinx TV Show over WNBT in NYC starting January 29, 1954.
6Won a Joseph Jefferson Award as Best Guest Artist in a Locally Produced Play in 1970 for her performance in "The Member of the Wedding" at the Ivanhoe Theatre in Chicago. The award was presented to her by Cyd Charisse.
7Waters has had three of her recordings inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame: "Dinah" (Columbia Records, 1925) in 1998; "Stormy Weather" (Brunswick Records, 1933) in 2003; and "Am I Blue?" (Columbia Records, 1929) in 2007. Her "Stormy Weather" recording was also inducted into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2004.
8Waters was honored on a U.S. Postal Service stamp issued September 1, 1994 as part of the Legends of American Music series. Her stamp was issued at a ceremony at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, along with stamps honoring Nat 'King' Cole, Bing Crosby, Al Jolson and Ethel Merman. A west coast ceremony was held by the U.S. Postal Service at Compton Community College in Compton, CA the next day. The city of Compton declared September 2, 1994 'Nat King Cole/Ethel Waters Day' for the occasion.
9Husband Edward Mallory was an orchestra leader whom Ethel performed with.
10Never learned how to read music.
11She got religion in the late 1950s and performed and toured with evangelist Billy Graham until her death in 1977.
12She recorded her first two songs, "The New York Glide" and "At the New Jump Steady Ball," in 1921 on the Cardinal Record label. That same year, she was the first artist to record for Black Swan, W.C. Handy's record label. By the early 1930s, she had introduced fifty song hits.
13Performed for the first time at the age of five in a children's church program; given the first chance to sing on an amateur night at a Philadelphia club on her 15th birthday and was hired on the spot and billed as "Sweet Mama Stringbean"; and made her vaudeville debut in 1917 at the Lincoln Theater in Baltimore, Maryland.
14Ethel was born to a 12-year-old mother, Louise Anderson, who had been raped at knife point by a man named John Waters. Although she was raised by her maternal grandmother, Sally Anderson, she took her father's surname.
15Her favorite hymn was "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." She used it for the title of her autobiography.
16Married three times; had no children.
17Was the second African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award. The first was Hattie McDaniel, who won for her performance in Gone with the Wind (1939).
18Sang with the Billy Graham Crusade in her later years, always to a warm reception, and recorded several albums of sacred music for Word Records. Became a born-again Christian at one of Graham's crusades in the late 1950s.
19Singer Crystal Waters is her great-niece.


Actress

Actress

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law1972TV SeriesAunt Harriet
Daniel Boone1970TV SeriesRachael
Vacation Playhouse1967TV SeriesCarrie
The Great Adventure1963TV SeriesRit
Route 661961TV SeriesJennie Henderson
Whirlybirds1959TV SeriesSarah
The Sound and the Fury1959Dilsey
The Heart Is a Rebel1958Gladys
Carib Gold1957Mom
Matinee Theatre1957TV Series
Saturday Spectacular: Manhattan Tower1956TV MovieSunday School Teacher
Playwrights '561955TV SeriesDilsey
General Electric Theater1955TV SeriesMother
Climax!1955TV SeriesAunt Kate
Your Play Time1955TV SeriesHannah
Encounter1954TV SeriesKatherine
The Member of the Wedding1952Berenice Sadie Brown
The Jackie Gleason Show1952TV SeriesGuest Jazz Vocalist
Beulah1950-1951TV SeriesBeulah
Pinky1949Pinky's Granny
Stage Door Canteen1943Ethel Waters
Cabin in the Sky1943Petunia Jackson
Cairo1942Cleona Jones
Tales of Manhattan1942Esther
Bubbling Over1934ShortEthel Peabody
Change Your Luck1933ShortEthel
Rufus Jones for President1933ShortMother of Rufus Jones
On with the Show!1929Ethel

Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Amelia2009performer: "Moonglow" 1934
Hollywood Singing and Dancing: A Musical History - The 1920s: The Dawn of the Hollywood Musical2008Video documentary performer: "Am I Blue?", "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" - uncredited
Cold Case2005-2006TV Series performer - 2 episodes
American Masters1997TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode
Mr. & Mrs. Bridge1990performer: "Jeepers Creepers"
Heart of Midnight1988performer: "Baby, What Else Can I Do"
Dinah!1976TV Series performer - 1 episode
That's Entertainment, Part II1976Documentary performer: "Taking a Chance on Love" 1940 - uncredited
The Mike Douglas Show1976TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson1972TV Series performer - 1 episode
The David Frost ShowTV Series performer - 1 episode, 1972 writer - 1 episode, 1972
Johnny Carson Presents the Sun City Scandals '721972TV Movie performer: "Dinah", "Taking a Chance on Love"
The Pearl Bailey Show1971TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Barbara McNair ShowTV Series performer - 1 episode, 1970 writer - 1 episode, 1970
Daniel Boone1970TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Hollywood Palace1969TV Series performer - 1 episode
Hollywood and the Stars1963TV Series performer - 1 episode
Route 661961TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show1959TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Heart Is a Rebel1958performer: "The Crucifixion", "His Eye Is on the Sparrow", "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child"
Carib Gold1957performer: "Carib Gold"
Matinee Theatre1957TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Steve Allen Plymouth Show1956TV Series performer - 1 episode
Person to Person1954TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode
The Member of the Wedding1952performer: "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" - uncredited
Texaco Star Theatre1951TV Series performer - 1 episode
Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall1950TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Ed Sullivan Show1949TV Series performer - 1 episode
Let's Sing a Song from the Movies1948Short performer: "Am I Blue?"
The Voice That Thrilled the World1943Short performer: "Am I Blue" - uncredited
Stage Door Canteen1943performer: "Quick Sands" 1943
Cabin in the Sky1943performer: "Li'l Black Sheep" 1943, "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" 1943, "Cabin in the Sky" 1940 uncredited, "Taking a Chance on Love" 1940 uncredited, "Honey in the Honeycomb" 1940 uncredited
Cairo1942The Kiss, The Sextet, 1835, 1912, Home, Sweet Home, 1823, performer: "Il bacio" , "Chi mi frena", "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee", "There's No Place Like Home", uncredited
The Old Mill Pond1936Short performer: "Jungle Rhythm" - uncredited
Gift of Gab1934performer: "I Ain't Gonna Sin No More" - uncredited
Bubbling Over1934Short performer: "Taking Your Time", "Darkies Never Dream"
Rufus Jones for President1933Short performer: "Am I Blue?", "Underneath the Harlem Moon", "Lullaby" - uncredited
On with the Show!1929performer: "Am I Blue?" 1929, "Birmingham Bertha" 1929 - uncredited

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Jazz2001TV Mini-Series documentaryHerself
Dinah!1976TV SeriesHerself
The Mike Douglas Show1965-1976TV SeriesHerself / Herself - Guest
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson1972TV SeriesHerself
The David Frost Show1972TV SeriesHerself
The Dick Cavett Show1972TV SeriesHerself
Johnny Carson Presents the Sun City Scandals '721972TV MovieHerself
The Pearl Bailey Show1971TV SeriesHerself
This Is Your Life1971TV SeriesHerself
The Barbara McNair Show1970TV SeriesHerself
Della1969TV SeriesHerself
The Hollywood Palace1969TV SeriesHerself
The Joey Bishop Show1968TV SeriesHerself
The 37th Annual Academy Awards1965TV SpecialHerself - Audience Member
The New Steve Allen Show1962TV SeriesHerself
The Linkletter Show1962TV SeriesHerself
Project XX1961TV Series documentaryHerself
The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show1959TV SeriesHerself - Singer
The Mike Wallace Interview1959TV SeriesHerself
Hold That Note1957TV SeriesHerself - Contestant
Break the $250,000 Bank1957TV SeriesHerself - Contestant
The Steve Allen Plymouth Show1956TV SeriesHerself - Singer
Home1956TV SeriesHerself
The Dave Garroway Show1953-1954TV SeriesHerself
Person to Person1954TV Series documentaryHerself - Singer
American Inventory1953TV SeriesHerself
This Is Show Business1950-1952TV SeriesHerself
General Electric Guest House1951TV SeriesHerself
What's My Line?1951TV SeriesHerself - Mystery Guest
Songs for Sale1951TV SeriesHerself
Texaco Star Theatre1951TV SeriesHerself - Singer
Showtime, U.S.A.1950TV SeriesHerself
The Ed Sullivan Show1949-1950TV SeriesHerself / Herself - Singer
Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall1950TV SeriesHerself
The Borden Show1947TV SeriesHerself
Let My People Live1939Documentary short
Gift of Gab1934Herself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Bicentennial Nigger2006Short
Broadway: The American Musical2004TV Mini-Series documentary
Great Performances2003TV SeriesHerself
The Nightclub Years2001TV Special documentaryHerself
Biography1995-2001TV Series documentaryHerself / Actress 'Pinky'
Blues Masters1999Video documentary
Classified X1998TV Movie documentaryHerself
Small Steps, Big Strides: The Black Experience in Hollywood1998TV Movie documentaryHerself
American Masters1997TV Series documentaryHerself
20th Century-Fox: The First 50 Years1997TV Movie documentaryActress 'Pinky' (uncredited)
Inside the Dream Factory1995TV Movie documentaryHerself (uncredited)
That's Black Entertainment1990DocumentaryHerself
Entertainment Tonight1990TV SeriesMother of Rufus
The Ladies Sing the Blues1989Herself
The Mike Douglas Show1977TV SeriesHerself - Actress / Herself
That's Entertainment, Part II1976DocumentaryClip from 'Cabin in the Sky'
Brother Can You Spare a Dime1975DocumentaryHerself
Black Shadows on the Silver Screen1975TV Movie documentaryHerself (uncredited)
Hollywood and the Stars1963TV SeriesHerself
The Ed Sullivan Show1958-1963TV SeriesHerself
Let's Sing a Song from the Movies1948Short
The Voice That Thrilled the World1943ShortHerself (segment "On with the Show!") (uncredited)

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1962Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading RoleRoute 66 (1960)
1950OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actress in a Supporting RolePinky (1949)


Looks like we don't have salary information. Sorry!


#Quote
1I guess singing is the traditional outlet for the colored people. The very thing that is paramount in my mind I can find expression for in just humming a song. But, of course, there is solid prayer for other things in my mind. Oh, I can get angry and curse a little (of course, the Lord look the other way). I don't take the Lord's name in vain, don't get that idea. But I have a vocabulary without the Lord's name that could raise the roof. You understand what I'm saying, sugar?
2I 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.


Looks like we don't have trademarks information. Sorry!

Check Also

Nneka Ogwumike

WNBA power forward who was simply named the WNBA First year of the entire year …