Redd Foxx did a really risky, yet honorable thing for his friend, LaWanda Page, (Aunt Esther) back in the day. To understand why he did it, you have to first understand their history together. Redd and LaWanda were really close friends in real life, long before they were comedians. They were friends since their pre-teen years and they attended the same high school in St. Louis.
LaWanda Page (October 19, 1920 – September 14, 2002), born Alberta Peal, is an actress and best known for her role as in the popular 1970s television sitcom . She later reprised this role in the television shows and .
Best known for her role as cantankerous Aunt Esther on the sitcom classic Sanford and Son, comedienne LaWanda Page was born in Cleveland, OH, in 1920. After beginning a professional dancing career at age 15, she later relocated to St. Louis, working as a waitress at Ned Love's Tavern; in time she began stripping, incorporating elements of circus sideshow fire-swallowing into her act and earning the title "The Bronze Goddess of Fire." While in St. Louis, Page also met local comedian Redd Foxx, with whom she toured the so-called "chitlin circuit" of black-owned nightspots.
She settled in Los Angeles in 1955 and began performing standup at the local Brass Rail club; eventually Page joined the comedy team of Skillet, Leroy & Co., and while appearing at the L.A. club the Persian Room, was discovered by producers for the upcoming NBC sitcom Sanford and Son, a vehicle for her old friend and collaborator Foxx. The series premiered in 1972 and went on to become one of the biggest hits of its era; after Sanford and Son went off the air in 1977, Page co-starred in the short-lived Detective School, followed by guest shots in a variety of television projects as well as a number of film cameos. Her standup recordings include Mutha Is Half a Word and Watch It, Sucker.