American Vaudeville Museum

All material 1998-2011 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc. Page 45

Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters may be remembered now as a character actor who later sang with Billy Graham's Crusade, but from WWI to WWII she was one of the most respected and influential singers of blues, jazz and theatre songs in vaudeville and musical revue. She became the first African American to truly bridge all the color barriers in show business when she became a popular recording star, the first black woman to star on Broadway in a mainstream revue and in a drama, and to get top billing on a network radio show and a network TV series.