Like Gertude Berg, creator of "The Goldbergs," Moms Mabley is one of those remarkable women artists of the first half of the 20th century who never achieved the mainstream status and success her talent deserved.

If you don't know who she is, I urge you to check out "Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley" tonight at 9 on HBO. You can get a taste of it from my podcast preview for Baltimore's WYPR (88.1 FM).

Born in 1897, Mabley's career spans vaudeville to television, though like many black performers, she was kept off TV until the civil rights movement opened some doors on Network Row near the end of her career.

HBO's wise and touching look at her life and legacy tells us as much about race, stand-up comedy, gender identity, sexual orientation, popular culture and America in the first half of the 20th century as it does about her.

Don't miss it.