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Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Wade was trained as a singer and organist. Belonging to a family with strong theatrical connections, her mother, Hazel Wade, was a vaudeville performer, and her maternal grandmother, Mrs. Johnson, worked for the Lincoln Theater in Baltimore, Md. Wade grew up in Los Angeles, and began act at age 4. In 1935 he was part of the group of singers Four Hot Chocolates.
In his career he made small roles in the cinema, giving voice to a butterfly in the 1946 film Walt Disney Song of the South, Wade was also a member of the choir organized by the actress and singer Anne Brown for the filming of the George Gershwin’s biopic Rhapsody in Blue, also playing a small role in it.
However, the actress enjoyed her greatest fame thanks to the television series Amos’ n Andy, in which she portrayed the manipulative wife of George “Kingfish” Stevens, Wade, Johnny Lee, and Lillian Randolph were the only ones members of the cast of Amos’ n Andy who had previously acted in the radio version of the series. Ernestine Wade started playing Sapphire Stevens in 1939, although her original role in the radio show of Amos ‘n’ Andy was that of Valada Green.
Wade defended her character against critics who claimed it was a negative stereotype of African-American women, and she was of the opinion that thanks to the characters depicted in the series, it was possible for African-American actors to obtain a greater variety of interpretive offers.
Completed Amos ‘n’ Andy, continued to work as an interpreter, devoting more time to dubbing in cartoons, radio, and television. He also took care of administrative tasks and played the organ. One of his last works was a performance in an episode of My Adorable Nephews, along with Joan Blondell.
Ernestine Wade died in Los Angeles, California, in 1983. She was buried at the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.
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