The Whitman Sisters
Alberta (Bert), Alice, Mabel (May), and Essie
The sisters are considered “The Royalty of Black Vaudeville”. From the late 1890s to early 1940s, their shows were the biggest, fastest, flashiest shows on the circuit.
Their annual touring show became an incubator for talent—especially dancers. The kids who started in their shows or joined them later became some of America’s favorite comics, dancers, and musicians a few years later: Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Count Basie, Trixie Smith, Moms Mabley, Jeni Le Gon, Reed & Bryant, Pine Top Smith, Lonnie Johnson and Mary Lou Williams.