Remember “Miss One” In “The Wiz?” Her Real-Life Was Riddled With Hardships And Triumph

Posted On : April 22, 2021
Scene from “The Wiz” film

Remember when “Dorothy” accidentally wacked “Evermean, the Wicked Witch of the East” and freed “Miss One,” along with 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 wiiii-iiiiz. He’s the Wizaaaa-aaard!!!” Just describing that scene brings back some beautiful Old School memories, right?

Now that we’ve refreshed your memory on the “Miss One” character, let us fill you in on who she actually was in real life. Check out the interesting facts below…

  1. “Miss One” was played by actress/jazz singer, Thelma Carpenter. She’d been singing since the age of 7. However, her big break came during her high school years in 1939, when she was discovered by the same record exec’ who discovered Billie Holiday and Count Basie.
  2. Carpenter passed away in 1997 at age 77, after suffering a massive heart attack. She was never married and didn’t have 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.”

    “Miss One” actress, singer Thelma Carpenter
  3. Thelma Carpenter 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 kinda faded throughout the rest of the ’60s era. Her career’s decline forced her to live as a regular civilian again, working 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.”
  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 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 Ms. Carpenter’s 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