Esther Winfield Anderson, better known to television audiences as Aunt Esther, was a fictional character on the NBC-TV sitcom Sanford and Son, portrayed by LaWanda Page. She was presumably near Fred's age, which means she was probably born between 1905 and 1908. She had six sisters, Ethel Winfield (Beah Richards), Hazel (played by Lillian Randolph), Flossie, Minnie, and the late Elizabeth Sanford. The latter was the wife of Fred G. Sanford (Red xx. But b d Foxx), and the mother of Lamont (Demond Wilson). Elizabeth died 23 years before the timeline of the pilot Crossed Swords, and her sisters harassed Fred, serving as his comic foils. Esther was a very religious Baptist. She was married to alcoholic Woodrow "Woody" Anderson (Raymond Allen), who later cleaned up his act and became sober so the couple could adopt a child. Esther's father was a shoe maker. Originally from Detroit, Esther and her family lived for many years in St. Louis, but she moved to Los Angeles with Woody. While still living in St. Louis, Esther once dated blues singer B.B. King, when he was still a struggling blues singer named Riley King, and who later gave Woody $1000 for "taking" Esther, because Esther married Woody and moving to Los Angeles caused King to leave St. Louis and start singing the blues.
Relationship / Interaction with Fred Edit
Esther and Fred despise each other; the sparks fly practically every time she enters the Sanford home, Fred usually makes an exaggerated grimace; when she leaves, she usually shouts, "Oh Glory!" Fred often insults her appearance, likening her to wild animals and fictional monsters such as Godzilla, King Kong, or gorillas. She cringes, and tells Fred to "watch it, sucka," or, when angered, flays her purse wildly in Fred's direction while issuing a barrage of insults of her own, usually including "fish-eyed fool" or "heathen."
Relationship with Lamont Edit
Although she despised Fred, she recognizes that if there was anything good that came out of his marriage to her sister, it was the birth of their son, Lamont. Lamont adored his Aunt Esther, since she and her family are the only real tangible connections he has with his late mother. Aunt Esther could come down hard on him at times, but, unlike Fred, whom she thinks is no good, she sees something good and better in Lamont. She tries to help him stay on the moral high ground, and tries to get him out of his father's miserable junkyard surroundings, as she felt his mother would not want him to live in such a limited life.
Lamont is loyal to Aunt Esther, often defending her against the insults that she receives from Fred and Grady. He would (and did) often invite Aunt Esther to stay at their house, much against Fred and Grady's demands, because of their insults towards her. In the episode "Aunt Esther and Uncle Woodrow, pfft!", Grady Wilson, who was taking care of the house in Fred's absence, he manipulates Woodrow in throwing Esther out of her house. Lamont, angered that Grady was interfering with his family, agreed to Esther staying with them. Later on, Esther, Woodrow, Lamont and two of Esther's sisters, Flossie and Minnie, gang up on Grady for his interference.
Esther was a devout churchgoer, always armed with the Bible, and whenever she went to do battle with Fred, which was often, she was usually aided by some women from her church, or by her drunken husband, Woodrow; or would simply show up at Fred's house quoting the Bible. Esther was constantly looking for donations for her church, at one point the church wanted to buy a wing. Always at Fred's chagrin, Esther would always ask for donations, always when he had come into some money. Usually, at any random moment, even in mid-sentence, Esther would throw her hands up and exclaim, "Oh, Glory!" (though it came out as H'ah Glory), even during her most heated arguments with Fred. Her upright image was deflated when it was revealed that in her youth, an old accquaintance of her and Fred's, a character called "Big Money Grip" (played by Sonny Jim Gaines) had sneaked into her bedroom and had sex with her. Grip had mistaken Esther for the beautiful Elizabeth in the dark, which led Grip to claim he was Lamont's real father. Ironicially, Page's convincing portrayal of the "church lady" image of Aunt Esther lay in direct contrast to the "blue" material of her stand-up act and record albums.