LaWanda Page was scared to make mistakes when she first appeared on Sanford and Son
LaWanda Page was one of the most humble, loving actresses on television in the Seventies. Those traits were mixed with her ability to be feisty and engage in a comedic battle with Redd Foxx's starring character Fred Sanford on Sanford and Son. Despite never taking acting classes, Page secured the role of Aunt Esther (although producers attempted to fire her, and Foxx stood up for his friend.)
That situation created fear in Page's heart about whether she could effectively gain the love of American television viewers and not let Redd Foxx and her family down.
"I never want to let anybody down if they're countin' on me," the actress told The San Bernardino County Sun in 1974. "Not Mama, not Redd or Aaron Rueben, or the audience either. It's like when I first started on the show, I was so scared of making mistakes. [I was afraid of failing the] all-American TV image."
She was also mortified about leaving her mom alone when she had to work; Page was her mom's caregiver.
"I don't like to leave Mama. She's old now and senile. And I don't like to leave her alone. She calls for me and she knows when I'm not there. I don't resent taking care of her, because, after all, she took care of me all those years. I owe her," she added.
There was no way viewers wouldn't love LaWanda Page and Aunt Esther Anderson. She brought a realistic touch to the show, highlighting an imperfect extended family. Something that many families have, even today.
Page wasn't the average star. Unlike many actors and actresses who relocated after they've gained success, she had no desire to leave her community. When an interviewer asked her about changing, Page said she would be foolish.
"Why honey, for me to get a big head, to change at this time in my life would be foolish. It wouldn't be me. That's where I've lived all my life and where I got discovered for the show. Why would I want to move?"
The actress cherished her Sanford and Son role, where she lived, her mom and Redd Foxx. Page committed to them and held them close to her heart.
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