LaWanda Page

October 19, 1920-September 14, 2002

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LaWanda Page, who played the fearsome, Bible-toting aunt Esther Anderson on the 1970s television comedy "Sanford & Son," has died. She was 81. Page died Saturday at Centinela Hospital Medical Center from complications of diabetes, friend and producer Donald Welch said Monday. After the aunt Esther role from 1973 to 1977 on "Sanford & Son," Page appeared as aunt Esther in the short-lived spinoff "The Sanford Arms" in 1977. She also starred in "Detective School" in 1979 and "B.A.D. Cats" in 1980. Born in Cleveland on Oct. 19, 1920, Page began her show business career as a dancer and chorus girl on the club circuit where she was billed as "The Bronze Goddess of Fire" because she lit cigarettes with her fingertips, swallowed fire and touched flaming torches to her body. Childhood friend Redd Foxx gave her the biggest break when he recommended her for the aunt Esther role. She made guest appearances on "Family Matters," "Amen," "227," "Diff'rent Strokes," "Martin" and "In Living Color." Her movie credits included "Friday," "Meteor Man," "My Blue Heaven" and "CB4." On stage, she appeared in Welch's gospel musical, "Take It to the Lord ... Or Else!" Page is survived by a daughter.
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