LaWanda Page: Sanford & Son’s Hidden Gem

lawanda pageWhile you may not know the name LaWanda Page, you probably know Aunt Esther, the character on the hit TV series Sanford & Son, with comedian Redd Foxx. Page, who played Aunt Ester, always went bac and forth with Foxx’s character Fred Sanford. She was one of the favorite ensemble players on the show with her catch phrase, “Watch it, Sucka!”

Many don’t know but Page Page began her career as a dancer and chorus girl billed as “the Bronze Goddess of Fire.”

She got that name because she would light cigarettes with her fingertips, swallow fire and touch flaming torches to her body–all as a part of her act. Her health and appearance were a top priority for Page back then. But when she landed her part with Sanford & Son and more roles in Hollywood came knocking, the grueling schedule led to her health decline and she eventually died from diabetes complications at the age of 81 in 2002.

LaWanda Page and Redd Foxx were very close friends from the time they were pre-teen age. They attended school and grew up together in St. Louis.

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Later on, they both entered the field of comedy separately and performed stage acts. Page later recorded several live comedy albums for the Laff Records label in the late 1960s and early 1970s under the LaWanda stage name. One release, a gold-selling album called Watch It, Sucker!, was titled after one of her Aunt Esther character’s catchphrases to capitalize on her…