Measure Her Right: The Tragedy of Ethel Waters

  • Glenda E. Gill


These ungrammatical but powerful words of Mama Younger admonish all who would criticize the singer/dramatic actor Ethel Waters. I saw her in person only once. It was 1972 in El Paso, Texas, at the First Baptist Church on Montana Street. The Billy Graham Crusade was in town. By then, she toured with Graham as a singer. She was 75 and looked a lot older. Her soft and bountiful snow-white hair formed a gentle halo around the head of a woman who was no saint. Her body was, by then, trapped in 350 pounds of flesh. Her finances were strained, and her health clearly frail with the illnesses—cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes—that ultimately claimed her. A gifted singer and a dramatic actor many praised, Ethel Waters lived a tragic life.


Black Woman York Time Personal Interview Stormy Weather American Film 
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Copyright information

© Glenda E. Gill 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenda E. Gill

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