By the age of five, Thelma Carpenter knew she loved to sing and could often be heard on the “Kiddies Hour” radio show. At the age of 11, she already had her own show on WNYC and at 15, she entered an amateur contest, at the Apollo Theater in New York, where singing “Stormy Weather” won her a week’s booking.
Carpenter was born in Brooklyn, NY on Jan. 15,1922, the only child of Fred and Mary Carpenter, and her career spanned seven decades.
She was hired by Teddy Wilson when she was 16 as a vocalist for his band. The group was together for a year, but before Carpenter left the group, she managed to recorded two music pieces with them. She later joined the Count Basie Orchestra in 1943 and toured extensively and with them gaining worldwide attention.
Eddie Cantor hired her as his singing star of this popular radio show in 1945. Carpenter starred on Broadway in the hit revue “Inside U.S.A.” She later starred in the 1952 revival of the revue “Shuffle Along.”
She appeared on the big screen as Miss One, the first good witch in “The Wiz” with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Carpenter then played the mother of Gregory and Maurice Hines in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1982 film “The Cotton Club. Carpenter died in 1997 at the age of 75.