Remember “Miss One” From “The Wiz?”…A LIFE Of Struggles & Triumph

Posted On : March 30, 2016

Thelma Carpenter in The WizRemember when “Dorothy” accidentally wacked “Evermean, the Wicked Witch of the East” and freed “Miss One” and the pop lockin’ “Munchkins” in “The Wiz?” One of the best parts of the movie was when “Miss One,” the numbers running Good Witch looked at Dorothy in disbelief when Dorothy asked her “What’s  a Wiz?” Miss One replied “What’s a…what’s a WIZ?!!” Then she and the “Munchkins” started getting their jam on, singing “He’s the wiiiiii-iiiiiz. He’s the Wizaaaaa-aaard!!!” Just describing that scene brings back some beautiful Old School memories.

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Now that we refreshed your memory on who “Miss One” is, we thought we’d share with y’all some interesting facts about her, being that many of us never really knew who she was, nor had seen her outside of her “Wiz” Costume.

  1. “Miss One” was played by actress/jazz singer, Thelma Carpenter. She’d been singing since she was 7 years old, but her big break came during her high school years in 1939, after she was discovered by the same record exec who discovered Billie Holiday and Count Basie. Here are some shots of Ms. Carpenter at a young age…thelma caroenter vintage4*****
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  2. Carpenter passed away in 1997 at the age of 77 after suffering a massive heart attack. She was never married and didn’t have any children. She said this about her lack of having a husband: “Yes, I’ve never married, though you might say, that I’ve done lots of heavy rooming and light housekeeping in my time. Honey, I like life.”thelma carpenter album
  3. Thelma fell on hard times after her Mother passed away in 1962 leading her into a deep depression that left her bedridden for about a year. She then couldn’t find work and her career kind of faded in throughout the rest of the 60’s era, causing her to live as a regular citizen again and work as a file clerk for the  Mott’s apple sauce corporation. Thelma said this about how she handled that downfall in her career: ”My grandaddy taught me something I’ve never forgotten. What you need is so much more important to you than what you want. Anyway, I’ve never aspired to be a superstar. You talk about stardom, well, your nose bleeds up there. I got close enough to know. Suddenly there were people I’d never seen, telling me I owed them something. Listen, I’ve given my money away, where I thought it would help, but I don’t want ‘yes’ people around me. Basically I’m a loner.”thelma carpenter singing
  4. Aside from The Wiz film in 1978, Ms. Carpenter performed at the Apollo Theater, in many popular Broadway plays and she’s also had roles on “The Cosby Show” and in the film, “The Cotton Club” in 1978.thelma carpenter album2

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Thelma Carpenter is one of our unspoken gems in the entertainment industry. Stars like her, unfortunately oftentimes go unnoticed in mainstream media, but to us she is someone who made a great impact on the Old School culture through roles such as her phenomenal performance in a an iconic CLASSIC like The Wiz. So for her many contributions to entertainment we wanted to properly salute Ms. carpenter and then her after a job well done here on earth.

-ILoveOldSchoolMusic, Old School news with a new point of view
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