Miss Ebony Tribute

The LGBT community mourns the passing of Morrie Carter.

By Laura Latzko - Jan 16, 2014

Miss Ebony

Community mourns the passing of Morrie Carter/Miss Ebony

Friends are remembering Morrie Carter as a beloved drag entertainer known as Miss Ebony.

Carter died of cancer on Dec. 31. He was 77.

Carter was born Sept. 6, 1936, and grew up in St. Louis. He served as a medic in the U.S. Army, then lived in Chicago. He came to Phoenix in 1973.

For 27 years, Carter worked as a nurse at the Phoenix Baptist Hospital, where he was instrumental in creating the Valley's first AIDS ward. He was recognized for his work to help to educate doctors and staff about HIV and AIDS.

Carter's sister, Millye Carter Bloodworth, said her brother began doing drag in Chicago on Halloween 1967, and was one of the few African-American drag queens when he started performing.

Carter did fundraisers for Joshua Tree Feeding Program, Aunt Rita's Foundation, the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association and the Imperial Court of Arizona.

Miss Ebony held titles such as Miss National Gay Rodeo, Miss Gay Chicago and Countess for Reign I of the Imperial Court of Arizona.

Carter regularly appeared in Pussy LeHoot's shows at Charlie's and performed at in Phoenix and Tucson.

Kevin McSweeny, who performs as Pussy LeHoot, said he shared laughs with Carter during road trips to Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Reno and Albuquerque.

"She was definitely a character. I don't know if I ever have or will meet anyone like her again," McSweeny said.

Richard Stevens, who performs as Barbra Seville, said Carter's art of storytelling and classy, lady-like persona set him apart as a performer.

"Ms. Eb has left a legacy of kindness, grace and dignity. She passed the way she lived, on her terms and with elegance and dignity," Stevens said.

Teddy Rodriguez, also known as drag queen Devina Ross, said Carter served as his mentor and unofficial drag mother.

"To find someone you really bond with, admire and respect is very few and far between," Rodriguez said. "Miss Ebony made me work and earn her respect."

Carter Bloodworth, a transgender woman and gay rights pioneer, shared a close relationship her brother. "I want people to realize he was a trailblazer, a pioneer, a fundraiser and a friend," she said. "He couldn't have been all of those things without Miss Ebony." 

Carter was named to Echo Magazine's Hall of Fame in 2007.

Services were Jan. 11 at Alwun House Gardens.

Donations can be made in Carter's name to the Phoenix Shanti Group, Aunt Rita's and Joshua Tree.