Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mae West: Broadway Bouquets

MAE WEST received many bouquets in ink when her play "Diamond Lil" debuted on Broadway. The reviews published in April 1928, when Mae was just breaking in her striped corset and settling in to her swan bed, are the most insightful.
• • This is the final installment of a lengthy critique written by the influential New York based syndicated columnist Leonard Hall.
• • "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" • •
• • Leonard Hall wrote: Now detonates "Diamond Lil," latest in the Mae West lethal line.  The new opera is of the brand that only Mae writes and acts, Diamond Lil, girl friend of the King of the Bowery. All the characters are wild, wise-cracking, and no better than they should be. 
• • Among the songs are a revival of "She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage" and a pale pink version of the immortal "Frankie and Johnnie."
• • No Girlish Lines • •
• • Leonard Hall wrote: Mae West is a sight in herself.  Gone are the old girlish lines. Mae is buxom now, opulently curved. A great mass of blond hair crowns a large, pretty face, from which languorous violet eyes dart destruction at any and all males in the vicinity. Just to see the girl walk is a liberal education, for she doesn't really walk, she slithers in the most astonishing fashion. Censors come, dry up and blow away on the winds of time and change, but Mae West goes on forever. She is the great tang-inserter of the Broadway theater. Just as the season gets dull and prosy, in undulates the Mae West with one of her three ring circuses and the fun is on.  ...   
• • Source: Syndicated review "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" written by Leonard Hall rpt on page 12 in The Scranton Republican (Scranton, PA); published on Monday, 16 April 1928.
• • On Saturday, 17 April 1937 • •
• • "Mae West Disappears — Star in Retreat" • •
• • From London, the snippy, snooty British gossip columnist Greville Bain wrote: It cannot have escaped the notice of the film public that it is a long while since we had any news or even rumors of Mae West.
• • Greville Bain stated his own opinion on this: Even her greatest admirers had to admit that Miss West's more recent pictures were not calculated to enhance her reputation. Not so long ago she was said to vie with Shirley Temple as the greatest film attraction in the United States.  ...
• • Source: Article: "Mae West Disappears" by Greville Bain in The Advertiser (Adelaide); published on Saturday, 17 April 1937.
• • On Thursday, 17 April 2014 in Germany • •
• • "Hollywood is here" featuring Mae West
• • Here: LUMI LUIS Foto Studio Atelier and Art Gallery (Eisenacherstr. 11, Berlin, Germany)
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • In 1922, thanks to the city of Santa Monica's decision to not buy a stretch of beachfront property on the Pacific Coast Highway, many of Marion's more well-heeled friends began building "dignified" mansions on the sandy strip.
• • In time Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Mae West, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel and Francis Goldwyn, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg, Anita Loos, Bebe Daniels, Jack Warner, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Paulette Goddard would all have homes on what was dubbed by some "The Gold Coast."
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "A guy in Iowa wanted me to send him $500 to start a barber shop. Says he has invented a special Mae West haircut. I told him I'm sorry, but $500 is too much to pay for a haircut."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A syndicated Hollywood columnist spoke to Mae West.
• • "Mae West — Wisecracks Fill Her Conversation" • •
• • Paul Harrison, NEA Service Staff Correspondent for Hollywood, scored a fascinating interview with Mae West. He told his readers that No other screen star receives a more diversified assortment of requests, pleas, suggestions, and queries. Miss West is doing very well for herself as the writer and star of a picture to be called "Klondike Lou." Naturally, too, she is pretty good.
• • Paul Harrison explained: Between scenes she usually can be found scanning letters in her dressing, room and dictating, or suggesting answers to a "secretary." Also, there's a circle of admirers within earshot, and Mae always expands before an audience.
• • "Here's a guy says he's going to name a gold mine after me. Tell him it would be a big mistake.  I'm a digger, not a producer."
• • Paul Harrison continued: Once an editor of a small weekly newspaper asked Mae to send him one of her diamond rings, so he can give it to his girl friend. Mae suggested, "Write and ask him for the girl's name and address, and I'll send her five good reasons why she shouldn't marry him." Mae revealed another letter:  "A man says he'll send me a complete and absolutely sensational scenario if I'll send him $1,000 first. Tell him I'm terribly, terribly hurt that he doesn't seem to trust me. And as for me, I never trust men anyway."   . . .
• • Source:  rpt in Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio); published on Thursday, 3 January 1936
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2894th blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
________

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• • Mae West in April 1928

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mae West: Remarkable Voltage

MAE WEST was drawing renewed interest from critics and theatre buffs when her play "Diamond Lil" opened on Broadway. The reviews published in April 1928, when Mae was just getting used to her frisky role as Queen of the Bowery, are the most insightful. Here's the New York based syndicated columnist Leonard Hall, telling his readers what he thought.
• • "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" • •
• • "Star of Several Censored Shows Tries Scorching New Production" • •
• • Leonard Hall wrote: Mae West, the Big Bad Girl of Broadway, is with us again — — Mae of the rolling eye, the undulating hip, the gaudy entertainments. She opened her newest show, "Diamond Lil," at the Royale theater here, and the Main Stem still is roaring.
• • A specialty dancer of remarkable voltage • •
• • Leonard Hall explained: Mae West certainly is one of the most astonishing characters the American theater ever has produced. She came to light about ten years ago as a specialty dancer of remarkable voltage. For a season she appeared in the Rudolf Firml musical hit, "Sometime," and very nearly stole the show from under the emerging Ed Wynn.
• • Leonard Hall continued: Then came the shimmy mania, and that was the beginning of the end of the first phase of Mae West. She shook herself all over the variety stages of the republic. But such novelties have a way of dying very suddenly, and remaining extraordinarily dead, and when the shimmy passed out Mae checked out with it, and was no more seen.
• • To the Workhouse • •
• • Leonard Hall noted: A year or two ago, out of the mist of obscurity, came a new Mae West. She came slam banging to Broadway with a show called "Sex," which ran for months here on the strength of heavy patronage by curious flappers and cake-eaters. At last the censors clamped down on Mae's piece of drama and, after a court trial, the writer-star was sent to the workhouse for 10 days. A little thing like a term in the hoosegow didn't slow Mae. In no time at all she was back in the ring with another affair called "The Drag." Next came "This Wicked Age" [sic], another typical Mae West torch.  . . .
• • This lengthy drama review by Leonard Hall will be continued tomorrow.
• • Source: Syndicated review "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" written by Leonard Hall rpt in The Scranton Republican (Scranton, PA); published on Monday, 16 April 1928. 
• • About the song sheet: By July 1928, on the grounds that this show tune cost too much, Mae had scrapped the theme song "Diamond Lil," which had been written for the April 1928 premiere by a Mark Linder ally, Robert Sterling. She substituted an older royalty-free song "Heart of the Bowery."
• • On Monday, 16 April 1928 • •
• • This is from Carl Van Vechten's journal entry for Monday, 16 April 1928. Van Vechten wrote: I read proofs all the morning. Lunch in ... Then to see Mae West in "Diamond Lil," which I adored. Miss West is marvelous. Saw Edna Ferber between acts.
• • Source: "The Splendid Drunken Twenties: Selections from the Daybooks, 1922 — 1930" by Carl Van Vechten.
• • On Wednesday, 16 April 1947 in The L.A. Times • •
• • "Court Tilt Won by Mae West" was the headline in The Los Angeles Times on 16 April 1947. Two authors had sued Mae West and Mike Todd over the authorship of "Catherine Was Great."
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West will revive ’’The Drag” — — the controversial play she wrote in the early 1930s [sic] — — after her Sahara engagement in Las Vegas, announced Hollywood columnist Erskine Johnson (on 6 January 1955).
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "A girl asked me what to do because she's in love but the boy won't pay her any mind. She's wasting her time.  If the boy doesn't recognize love when he sees it, he isn't worth recognizing himself."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The newspapers in Cootamundra, Australia mentioned Mae West.
• • "Mae West — In Town Tonight" • •    
• • Mae West, the famous American film star, broadcasting in the British Broadcasting Corporation's magazine programme "In Town Tonight."
• • Miss West is not at all like the woman she portrays in "Diamond Lil," at present running successfully at London's Prince of Wales's Theatre.  She neither drinks or smokes. Off-stage she has an ordinary voice, minus all the sibilance and huskiness that has made her "come up and see me sometime" invitation so memorable.
• • Miss West began her stage career when she was five. And she had finished her education by the time she was ten years old. At fourteen years old, she was playing parts onstage and she wore cut velvet gowns and sashayed about the stage in the slinking fashion that has since become world famous. She knows the type of vehicle that best suits her and now writes her own plays.
• • Mae West is perhaps the only actress to have given her name to an article of service dress, the inflatable life-jacket that airmen wore to keep themselves afloat in the sea and which Is highly reminiscent of her generous curves.  . . .
• • Source:  Article in Cootamundra Daily Herald (NSW); published on Monday, 7 June 1948
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2893rd blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
________

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• • Mae West in April 1928

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mae West: NO to Jerry Wald

A MAE WEST movie was on the screen for her Singapore fans to enjoy in mid-April 1934.
• • The Capitol Theatre was showing the film "Catherine the Great" starring Elizabeth Bergner and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Then "I'm No Angel" was scheduled to begin its run on Tuesday, 17 April 1934.
• • Years later, Mae West would portray the Russian empress on Broadway using her own script.
• • Source: The Straits Times; published on Sunday, 15 April 1934.
• • On Friday, 15 April 1927 • •
• • Taking advantage of the legal woes of his sister-in-law Mae West and the scene his wife made at the Arcade Hotel, Beverly's Russian husband Sergei Treshatny obtained a divorce on Friday, 15 April 1927.  Well, somebody had a nice weekend, eh?
• • The play "Courting Mae West" dramatizes aspects of Beverly's relationship with Sergei, her divorce, and her hot — cold bond with her older sister Mae.
• • On Tuesday, 15 April 2003 • •
• • On Tuesday, 15 April 2003, a paperback edition was published of this popular biography: "Mae West: An Icon in Black and White" by Jill Watts. This is a must-have title for any Mae maven.
• • Mae West Movie Trivia • •
• • An intriguing newspaper article printed in 1950, illustrated with the photos of Mae West and Jane ["The Outlaw"] Russell, explained that Mae West would co-star in a new motion picture and play the mother of Jane Russell's character.
• • Mae West and Jane Russell will team together in "Mother Knows Best," RKO Studio announced today. Mae West will portray "Mother."
• • A fascinating premise indeed from RKO — — and too bad the picture wasn't made. Jane Russell [1921 2011] was 29 years old in 1950 and Mae was in her mid-50s.

• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West is still saying "NO" to the Jerry Wald-Norman Krasna call to co-star with Jane Russell in "Mother Knows Best" and now the boys are thinking about Marlene Dietrich.
• • "Mother Knows Best" is the story of two sisters who fleece unsuspecting males by posing as mother and daughter. Sighs Jerry Wald [16 September 1911 — 13 July 1962] on his failure to lasso Mae: "I talked with her over long distance last night. I don't know why she objects to the part. The story establishes that she's not really Jane's mother, but her sister. Mae's a wonderful business woman. I can't understand it."
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "And as for me, I never trust men anyway."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The newspapers in Queensland, Australia discussed Mae West.
• • Review: "Diamond Lil" • •
• • "Our English Letter" columnist wrote this:  London dramatic critics have not been impressed by Miss Mae West's London debut In her own play 'Diamond Lil.'  This melange of crooks, white slavers, gamblers, and speak-easy frequenters has run for years in America, but had mixed receptions when tried out before coming to the Prince of Wales Theatre in London, at Manchester, and Glasgow.  
• • "Mae did well with two characteristic songs in the second act ..." • •
• • "Our English Letter" columnist continued:  While the Mancunians remained rather frigid, the Glaswegians were almost cordial. A first-night West End audience was, however, extremely friendly. Yet one doubts whether it will have a big London success.  Miss Mae West, too, gorgeously gowned and with a coiffure shimmering with diamonds, did well with two characteristic songs in the second act — — but somehow, to London eyes, looks to-day slightly demode. She brings voluptuous curves of a Rubens genre into an austerely streamlined epoch. Her Bowery cracks lack the 1948 sophistication.  . . .
• • Source:  "Our English Letter" column (unsigned) in Townsville Daily Bulletin (Queensland, Australia); published on Wednesday, 11 February 1948 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2892nd blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
________

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• • Mae West touring the UK in 1948

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