A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 29, 2013
Stage Mother

A “stage mother” is the mother of a stage performer—usually a daughter. The stereotypical stage mother does everything to make her child a star. A classic description is of the mothers who take their daughters to auditions for the musical Annie.

The term “stage mother” has been cited in print since at least 1873.


Wikipedia: Stage mother
In the performing arts, a stage mother is a term for the mother of a child actor. The mother will often drive her child to auditions, make sure he or she is on the set on time, etc. The term sometimes has a negative connotation, suggesting that the individual is prone to obnoxiously demanding special treatment for her child, or suggesting that the individual has placed inappropriate pressure on her child to succeed. Some believe that a “stage mom” is vicariously living out her own dreams through her child.

History
A stage mother may also be the official manager of her child (e.g., Rose Thompson Hovick, Dina Lohan, Ethel Gumm, Teri Shields, Jaid Barrymore, Susan Duff, etc.) — representing her child in negotiations for the professional services of her child. Such managers have often been derided as “momagers” in the film industry.

26 December 1873, The Daily Graphic (New York, NY), pg. 373, col. 5:
The stage-mother accompanies her daughter to the theatre; she dresses her; she makes her take a good nap at five o’clock in the afternoon; she fights her battles for her with the stage-manager; she glares down the young men who would like to be introduced; and—she draws her salary. Here is the stage-mother as she appears glaring down her natural enemy—the importunate young man: ...

Chronicling America
26 November 1874, National Republican (Washington, DC), “Singers and Salaries,” pg. 4, col. 6:
... the charming Donadio was with her mother—a pleasant old dame, not at all like the traditional stage mother.

Chronicling America
9 January 1875, Dallas (TX) Weekly Herald, “The Stage Husband,” pg. 1, col. 5:
Everybody who has had any experience behind the scenes knows the stage mother. I tried to take her portrait once, if you recollect, I called your attention to the fact that if you have ever taken dinner with a prima donna, or stood on the coulisses with a ballet girl, or accidentally entered the manager’s office on pay-day, or, in your inexperienced youth, hung round the stage door at midnight waiting for the angel of your soul to come out in a faded calico dress, with a satchel on her arm; ...

That was the stage mother.

The Internet Movie Database
Plot Summary for
Stage Mother (1933)

A vaudeville star has to leave her daughter with her dead husband’s stuffy Boston parents while she makes a living. But when the daughter shows some talent, the mother become a stage mother and pushes her daughter into becoming a Broadway star. The mother is a monster with a heart of gold, and after breaking up the daughter’s love affair, finally sees the error of her ways.  Written by Ed Lorusso.

The Internet Movie Database
Bachelor Father: Season 3, Episode 28
Bentley, the Stage Mother (7 Apr. 1960)

TV Episode - 30 min - Comedy
Kelly wants to break into acting, and Uncle Bentley gets a little bit too involved.

OCLC WorldCat record
Stage mother.
Author: Marcia Miller
Publisher: New York, Avalon [©1974]
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English

OCLC WOrldCat record
Stagemother : a survival handbook for parents of children in the entertainment field
Author: Dorian Roach
Publisher: Simi Valley, Calif. : Leisure Pub. Co., ©1988.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Role Model Gail Williamson gives a positive spin to the term “stage mother”
Author: V B Ira
Publisher: [Oradell, NJ [etc.], Psy-Ed Corp.]
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: The Exceptional parent. 30, Part 12 (2000): 55-59
Database: ArticleFirst

OCLC WorldCat
Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter : a Memoir.
Author: Melissa Francis
Publisher: New York : Weinstein Pub., 2012.
Edition/Format: eBook : Document : EnglishView

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Thursday, August 29, 2013 • Permalink