Thelma Carpenter, the singer and actress best known as “Miss One” from 1978’s “The Wiz” in the 1950s.
We have solved the riddle of the mystery lady in the photo with Sarah Vaughan, Nat “King” Cole, Stan Kenton and Monica Lewis (who provided the photo to VBG). Thelma Carpenter (1922-1997). Best known to my generation as “Miss One” from “The Wiz” (!!!) like so many of our great performers, she was SO much more. Born in Brooklyn, Ms. Carpenter was already on the road to stardom at the age of 5, when she started singing on the “Kiddies Hour” radio show and by age 11, she had her own show on WNYC radio. After winning the venerable “Amateur Night” competition at the Apollo Theater, she would go on to sing with jazz greats like Teddy Wilson, Coleman Hawkins and Count Basie. In 1945, she replaced Dinah Shore on the very popular Eddie Cantor radio program, one of the first Blacks to replace a star on White radio show. She made her Broadway debut in 1944 in ”Memphis Bound” with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and was Pearl Bailey’s understudy in “Dolly” in 1968, performing the role over 100 times. In later years, along with ”The Wiz” in 1978, she had roles in the ABC version of “Barefoot in the Park,”in the early 1970s, ”The Cotton Club,” in 1984 along with “The Love Boat” and “The Cosby Show.” Ms. Carpenter died in New York City at the age of 77 in 1997. Photos: JET, October 2, 1952 (bottom right) and Amazon.com. ***Thanks to Derrick Lucas, who kindly contacted Mr. Cole’s manager, Dick LaPalm, who identified Ms. Carpenter for us. ***The lady in question was actually the singer Georgia Carr. Thanks to Toni Callendar for catching this and commenting on the VBG Facebook page.