Nisha Rathode (Editor)

LaWanda Page

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Birth name  Alberta Peal
Siblings  Lynn Hamilton
Role  Actress
Name  LaWanda Page
Nationality  American

A scene from the TV series Sanford and Son (1972-1977) featuring LaWanda Page as Aunt Esther Anderson

Born  October 19, 1920 Cleveland, Ohio, United States (1920-10-19)
Medium  stand-up, television, film
Genres  Word play, observational comedy, Black comedy, blue comedy
Subject(s)  human sexuality, race relations, African-American culture,
Notable works and roles  Aunt Esther in Sanford and Son, Sanford Arms and Sanford
Albums  Watch It, Sucker!, Pipe Layin' Dan, Mutha Is Half a Word, Preach On Sister, Preach On!, Sane Advice
Children  Clara Estella Roberta Johnson
Movies and TV shows  Sanford, Friday, Shakes the Clown, CB4, Sanford Arms
Similar People  Redd Foxx, Demond Wilson, Whitman Mayo, Lynn Hamilton, Nathaniel Taylor
Died  September 14, 2002 (aged 81), Hollywood, California, U.S.

Lawanda page

LaWanda Page (October 19, 1920 – September 14, 2002), born Alberta Peal, was an American actress and comedian best known for her role as Aunt Esther in the popular 1970s television sitcom Sanford and Son. She later reprised this role in the television shows Sanford Arms and Sanford.


Smiling LaWanda Page in black and white

Lawanda page

Early life and career

LaWanda Page smiles while wearing a pink long-sleeved shirt, pair of earrings, and a necklace

LaWanda Page was born on October 19, 1920 in Cleveland, Ohio, but was raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She began her show business career working small nightclubs billed as "The Bronze Goddess of Fire," an act which included Page eating fire and lighting cigarettes with her fingertips. She performed the cigarette feat on an episode of Sanford and Son titled "The Greatest Show in Watts" in Season 5 of the series, in which Fred Sanford held a circus in his front yard. On "Sanford and Son," she played Esther Anderson—better known to audiences as Aunt Esther—the older sister of Elisabeth Sanford, the mother of her nephew Lamont Sanford and the late wife of Lamont's father Fred G. Sanford.

After paying dues on the club circuit, where she shared stages with noted comedians such as Foxx and Richard Pryor, Page moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s where she became a member of the comedy group Skillet, Leroy & Co. (Skillet was Ernest "Skillet" Mayhand, born March 1, 1916 in Ohio, died May 12, 2007; Leroy was Leroy Daniels, born Wilbert LeRoy Daniel, November 28, 1928 in Oklahoma, died December 11, 1993.) In Los Angeles, Page started honing the feisty approach to comedy that would make her famous.

LaWanda Page and Redd Foxx, who portrayed Fred Sanford, were very close friends from the time they were pre-teens, having attended school and growing up together in St. Louis. Eventually, both entered the field of comedy separately and performed their own stage acts. During her tenure as a stand-up comic, a career she continued into the 1990s, she was often billed as "The Queen of Comedy" or "The Black Queen of Comedy".

Smiling LaWanda Page in black and white

Page recorded several live comedy albums for the Laff Records label in the late 1960s and early 1970s under her LaWanda Page stage name. Other than the relatively clean Sane Advice album, released two years after the run of Sanford and Son, Page's albums and stand-up material was raunchy blue comedy in nature. She was one of the few women who performed extended spoken word pieces in the black signifying or toasting tradition.

One release, a gold-selling album called Watch It, Sucker!, was titled after one of her Aunt Esther character's catchphrases in order to capitalize on her newfound television fame.

Sanford and Son

The cast of the movie Friday (1995) starring Ice Cube as Craig Jones, Chris Tucker as Smokey, and Lawanda Page as an Old lady

On Sanford and Son, Aunt Esther was the sister of Fred Sanford's late wife Elizabeth. Page had been performing her comedy routine in nightclubs in St. Louis and then Los Angeles for several years, but had planned to leave show business to move back to St. Louis to take care of her ailing mother. When Redd Foxx was offered a sitcom in Los Angeles, he brought his childhood friend Page to the attention to one of the show's producers, who was already familiar with Page and her act. Foxx subsequently asked Page to read for the role of Aunt Esther; she auditioned and was offered the role. However, prior to taping, producers became concerned when Page, whose experience was limited primarily to nightclub stages, seemed to have difficulty working in a sitcom format. Eventually, one of Sanford and Son's producers told Foxx that Page would need to be fired and that another actor would need to be cast before the show could begin taping. Foxx responded by insisting that Page keep the part, even threatening to walk away from the show if Page were fired. The producers relented, and Page's Aunt Esther went on to become one of the most popular TV sitcom characters of the 1970s.

Actor Redd Foxx and actress LaWanda Page sitting with wax statues on display at the Stars Hall of Fame attraction in Orlando

Page's Aunt Esther was a combination of devout churchgoer and tough-as-nails realist, unafraid to state whatever was on her mind. While her relationship with Foxx's character Fred Sanford was usually confrontational, she betrayed a tender side through her love of her nephew Lamont. Common issues between brother- and sister-in-law were his lack of business success and his lukewarm religious faith. Sometimes, primarily because of their shared love for Lamont and the late Elizabeth, the two adversaries managed to find common ground. Although "Sanford and Son" was clearly Foxx's vehicle, Page's Aunt Esther could hold her own against the show's star. (Ironically, the church-going Esther was a great contrast to the raunchy, expletive-filled material of Page's live act and records.)

Other film and television appearances

In 1977 Page appeared in an episode of The Love Boat entitled "Oh Dale", alongside Sherman Hemsley. Page also appeared on several episodes of The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, and over the next two decades occasionally guest-starred in episodes of other popular television shows, including Amen, Martin, 227, Family Matters, and Diff'rent Strokes. She appeared on Circus Of The Stars as a fire eater.

In the early 1990s she appeared on several tracks of the debut album by RuPaul entitled Supermodel of the World, most notably the hit song "Supermodel (You Better Work)." She also appeared in several music videos from the album. Shortly before her death she appeared in a series of comical Church's Chicken television commercials featuring the catchphrase "Gotta love it!"

Among her movie credits are appearances in Zapped! (1982), Good-bye, Cruel World (1983), Mausoleum (1983), the Steve Martin film My Blue Heaven (1990), as an extremely foul-mouthed clown in Bobcat Goldthwait's 1991 comedy Shakes the Clown, CB4 (1993), a cameo appearance in the 1995 movie Friday, stealing the opening scene with a one-liner, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996), and a recurring role on the 1990s TV sitcom Martin.


Page died of complications from diabetes on September 14, 2002. She is interred in an outdoor crypt at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

Her daughter, the evangelist Clara Estella Roberta Johnson, died on June 4, 2006, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 69.


  • Mutha Is Half a Word (1971)
  • Watch It, Sucker! (1972)
  • Back Door Daddy (1972; featuring Skillet & Leroy)
  • Preach On Sister, Preach On! (1973)
  • Pipe Layin' Dan (1973)
  • Sane Advice (1979)
  • Filmography

    West from North Goes South as
    Mrs. Potter / Gertrude Potter
    Dream On (TV Series) as
    Eddie's Grandmother
    - Finale - Part One (1996) - Eddie's Grandmother
    - Little Orphan Eddie (1995) - Eddie's Grandmother
    Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood as
    Old School's Mom (as La Wanda Page)
    Friday as
    Old Lady (as Lawanda Page)
    The Parent 'Hood (TV Series) as
    - Byte Me (1995) - Lawanda
    The Sinbad Show (TV Series) as
    Aunt Lula Mae
    - Family Reunion (1994) - Aunt Lula Mae (as Lawanda Page)
    The Meteor Man as
    Old Nurse
    RuPaul: Supermodel, You Better Work (Music Video) as
    Narrator (voice)
    In Living Color (TV Series)
    - In Living Color Voice-Mail Feedback Line (1993)
    Martin (TV Series) as
    Evelyn Porter
    - Baby You Can Drive My Car (1993) - Evelyn Porter
    - Variety Show (1993) - Evelyn Porter
    - The Great Payne Robbery (1992) - Evelyn Porter
    - Boyz 'R Us (1992) - Evelyn Porter
    CB4 as
    Grandma (as La Wanda Page)
    CBS Schoolbreak Special (TV Series) as
    Mrs. Wicker
    - Words Up! (1992) - Mrs. Wicker
    Family Matters (TV Series) as
    Elmerita Puckerwood
    - Brown Bombshell (1992) - Elmerita Puckerwood
    Shakes the Clown as
    Female Clown Barfly (as La Wanda Page)
    Talkin' Dirty After Dark as
    Angel / Devil (as La Wanda Page)
    Amen (TV Series) as
    - Deliverance: Part 1 (1991) - Darla
    - Date with an Angel (1991) - Darla (as La Wanda Page)
    - Ernie and the Sublimes (1991) - Darla
    My Blue Heaven as
    Hotel Maid
    Joe Bash (TV Series)
    - Cash (1986)
    227 (TV Series) as
    - Pick Six (1986) - Ethel
    1st & Ten (TV Series) as
    Earlene's Mother
    - Uneasy Lies the Head (1985) - Earlene's Mother
    Amazing Stories (TV Series) as
    Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Remote Control Man (1985) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    Mausoleum as
    Elsie, the maid (as La Wanda Page)
    Hill Street Blues (TV Series) as
    Appartment Fire Victim
    - Moon Over Uranus: The Sequel (1983) - Appartment Fire Victim (uncredited)
    Good-bye Cruel World as
    Zapped! as
    Mrs. Jones
    Sanford (TV Series) as
    Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Private Lives (1981) - Aunt Esther Anderson (credit only)
    - Gaslight (1981) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Love Is Blind (1981) - Aunt Esther Anderson (credit only)
    - Cal the Coward (1981) - Aunt Esther Anderson (credit only)
    - Fred Has the Big One (1981) - Aunt Esther Anderson (credit only)
    - Here Comes the Bride: Part 2 (1981) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Here Comes the Bride: Part 1 (1981) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    B.A.D. Cats (TV Series) as
    - Pilot (1980) - Ma
    Detective School (TV Series) as
    Charlene Jenkins
    - The Bank Job (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - Farewell, My Miss Glendale (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - The Killer-Diller Lingerie Caper (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - Masseuse in the Cold, Cold Ground (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - One Word Is Worth a Thousand Pictures (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - The Jewel Heist (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - The Runaway (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - Ice (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - Hooray for Bulgaria (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - Lucy in the Sky with Pizza (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - Oh, How We Danced (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    - A Bier on the House (1979) - Charlene Jenkins
    Starsky and Hutch (TV Series) as
    Mrs. Swayder / Minnie / Lady Bessie
    - Targets Without a Badge: Part 3 (1979) - Mrs. Swayder (as La Wanda Page)
    - Targets Without a Badge: Part 2 (1979) - Mrs. Swayder (as La Wanda Page)
    - Starsky and Hutch on Voodoo Island (1977) - Minnie (uncredited)
    - Huggy Bear and the Turkey (1977) - Lady Bessie (as La Wanda Page)
    Diff'rent Strokes (TV Series) as
    Myrtle Waters
    - The Relative (1979) - Myrtle Waters (as La Wanda Page)
    Brothers and Sisters (TV Series) as
    - Pilot (1979) - Hattie
    Sanford Arms (TV Series) as
    Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Young Love (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Wedding Reception (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The TV Show (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Ernie Williams Memorial Golf Course (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Phil's Past (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Grandparents (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Phil's Assertion School (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Bye, Fred, Hi, Phil (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    The Love Boat (TV Series) as
    Stella Marshall
    - A Tasteful Affair/Oh, Dale!/The Main Event (1977) - Stella Marshall
    Sanford and Son (TV Series) as
    Aunt Esther Anderson
    - School Daze (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Fred Sings the Blues (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Funny, You Don't Look It (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson (as La Wanda Page)
    - The Lucky Streak (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Fred the Activist (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Will (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Reverend Sanford (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - When John Comes Marching Home (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Defiant One (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Here Today, Gone Today (1977) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Aunt Esther Meets Her Son (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Aunt Esther Has a Baby (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Winning Ticket (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - I Dream of Choo Choo Rabinowitz (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Hawaiian Connection: Part 2 (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson (as La Wanda Page)
    - The Hawaiian Connection: Part 1 (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson (as La Wanda Page)
    - Sergeant Gork (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - A Pain in the Neck (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Engagement Man Always Rings Twice (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Lamont in Love (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Greatest Show in Watts (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Oddfather (1976) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Ebenezer Sanford (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - My Fair Esther (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Donna Pops the Question (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Steinberg and Son (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Sanford Arms (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Divorce, Sanford Style (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Earthquake II (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Over-the-Hill Gag (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Masquerade Party (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Strange Bedfellows (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Stand-In (1975) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Once a Thief (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - A Little Extra Security (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Tower Power (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Fred's Treasure Garden (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Sanford and Niece (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - There'll Be Some Changes Made (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - The Surprise Party (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Aunt Esther and Uncle Woodrow Pfftt- (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Tyranny, Thy Name Is Grady (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe (1974) - Aunt Esther Anderson (as La Wanda Page)
    - Wine, Women and Aunt Esther (1973) - Aunt Esther Anderson (as La Wanda Page)
    - The Engagement (1973) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Libra Rising All Over Lamont (1973) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Rated X (1973) - Aunt Esther Anderson (as La Wanda Page)
    - The Big Party (1973) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    Stonestreet: Who Killed the Centerfold Model? (TV Movie) as
    Grady (TV Mini Series) as
    Aunt Esther
    - Merry Birthday, Happy Xmas (1975) - Aunt Esther
    Sanford and Son (TV Series) (performer - 1 episode)
    - Fred Sings the Blues (1977) - (performer: "St. Louis Blues" - uncredited)
    9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (TV Special) as
    Self - In Memoriam
    Biography (TV Series documentary) as
    - Redd Foxx: Say It Like It Is (2000) - Self
    E! True Hollywood Story (TV Series documentary) as
    - Redd Foxx (1999) - Self
    The Legend of Dolemite (Documentary) as
    Good Evening, Captain (TV Special) as
    The Toni Tennille Show (TV Series) as
    - Episode #1.3 (1980) - Self
    The Alan Hamel Show (TV Series) as
    - Episode dated 11 April 1979 (1979) - Self
    Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Suzanne Somers (TV Special) as
    Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Betty White (TV Special) as
    Self - Comedian
    The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: George Burns (TV Special) as
    Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Jimmy Stewart (TV Special) as
    The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Jack Klugman (TV Special) as
    The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Frank Sinatra (TV Special) as
    The Merv Griffin Show (TV Series) as
    - Episode dated 3 January 1978 (1978) - Self
    Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Dan Haggerty (TV Special) as
    Redd Foxx (TV Series) as
    The Richard Pryor Special? (TV Special) as
    Sister Mabel Williams
    Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Ted Knight (TV Special) as
    Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Angie Dickinson (TV Special) as
    Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Redd Foxx (TV Special) as
    Dinah! (TV Series) as
    - Episode #3.3 (1976) - Self
    - Episode #1.151 (1975) - Self
    The Mike Douglas Show (TV Series) as
    Self - Actress
    - Episode #14.165 (1975) - Self - Actress
    Archive Footage
    History of the Sitcom (TV Series documentary) as
    Aunt Esther Anderson
    - Facing Race (2021) - Aunt Esther Anderson
    TV's 50 Funniest Catch Phrases (TV Movie) as
    E! True Hollywood Story (TV Series documentary) as
    - Richard Pryor (2003) - Self


    LaWanda Page Wikipedia