A Star for Ethel Waters: Home

A Star for Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters, 1940 (Photo by Carl Van Vechten)
November 17, 1940. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten collection, [reproduction number, LOT 12735, no. 1151]

A Star for Ethel Waters on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is long overdue. Miss Waters was approved in 2004 to receive the star by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Former Congresswoman Diane Watson endorsed the project when she was in office. Now it is up to us, community members, to complete the fundraising to get the star installed.

Actor/Singer/Writer Rose Weaver, along with Gay Parrish, Brooke Dammkoehler  (fellow Brown University alums in the Los Angeles Brown U Women’s Club), Sharon Charette of Rhode Island (web designer), and Danielle Montreese Wooten (photographer), revived the campaign to raise the funds for the star and made some progress. But Rose and Gay had to take leaves of absence for several months because of illnesses in the  families, and Brooke had to focus on her management of James Torme.

As of January 2012, we are resuming our work on the Ethel Waters Star Project with new member, Publist/Professor/Reporter Ron Brewington, who was instrumental in getting stars placed for Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, The Miracles, Isaac Hayes, The Funk Brothers and many others, taking an active part in helping us to meet our goal of getting a star on the Walk of Fame for Ethel Waters.


A star today costs $30,000. But the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is allowing the Ethel star to be purchased for the price quoted in 2004 of $15,000.

The doors Miss Waters bravely opened in motion pictures, television, stage and radio represent some of the most significant achievements in the early history of African-Americans in the performing arts. Indeed, minority entertainers advanced beyond vaudeville and juke joints because of Ethel’s work in mainstream musical and theatrical venues with white entertainers. She set excellent standards for all to follow.

Ten years after Hattie McDaniel won the first Oscar by an African-American for her supporting performance in Gone with the Wind, Ethel was the second African-American to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Pinky (1949).

“Pinky is a film directed by Elia Kazan. It was adapted by Philip Dunne and Dudley Nichols from the novel by Cid Ricketts Sumner. Although Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge were considered for the role, producer Darryl F. Zanuck chose to cast a white actress for box-office reasons. Released by Twentieth Century Fox, it starred Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore (who was screenwriter Philip Dunne's godmother), Ethel Waters, and Nina Mae McKinney.” (from Wikipedia)

“Pinky is one of the best films about "passing" ever made. The audience is brought into the passing character's community to witness why she decided to pass and how a community (white and black) responded to her decision. The passing character, a light-skinned black nurse who has been passing for white in the north, Pinky, played by white actress Jeanne Crain, returns to Mississippi to visit her grandmother (Ethel Waters as Granny) while she contemplates a marriage proposal from her white boyfriend. Granny sacrificed her own life so that Pinky would have opportunities that would not have otherwise been available to her. Throughout the film Granny is working cleaning clothes and serving other people. Unlike the other parents of passing figures, her grandmother acknowledges the difficulties of being black, while also reprimanding Pinky for committing what she considers to be a sin. (Note: In many passing films, the dialogue implies that race and community are natural instead of social. Religion is the tool used most often in dialogues about the shame of passing.)" (from Race and Identity in Passing Films)

To further put Ethel's honor in perspective in relation to the development of African-Americans in motion pictures, Dorothy Dandridge's nomination came in 1954. Other African-American nominations and wins include  Sidney Poitier-1963, Denzel Washington-1989, Halle Berry-2001, Whoopi Goldberg-1990. (Read more about Ethel Waters on the About Ms. Waters and Links pages.)

Read the letter of support for the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by Former Congresswoman Diane Watson.

Listen to Ethel Waters singing "Taking a Chance on Love" from Cabin in the Sky, 1943.


This project is currently on hold. Check back soon for new developments.