Born today October 19, 1920LaWanda Page, comedic character actress best known for her role as the Bible-thumping Aunt Esther in the 1970s television hit “Sanford and Son.” Born in Cleveland and reared in St. Louis, Page began her career as a dancer and chorus girl billed as “the Bronze Goddess of Fire.” She soon became adept at stand-up comedy. “LaWanda lived the life she loved, and loved the life she lived,” said Donald Welch, who wrote and directed a comedy gospel musical in which Page starred, “Take It to the Lord … Or Else.” He said Page had often used the phrase as a soothing accolade when close friends died.
But her greatest fame began in her 50s, when childhood friend Redd Foxx asked her to join his Norman Lear sitcom adapted from the British series “Steptoe and Son.” Page signed on as Fred Sanford’s crusty sister-in-law, Esther Anderson, in 1973 and stayed until the series ended with Foxx’s departure in 1977. Page died in Los Angeles of complications from diabetes at the age of 81.
Souce LA Times