Monday, September 01, 2014

Mae West: Getting a Head

MAE WEST was on the minds of her Canadian fans in Ottawa during 1977.
• • "Mae West — She still more than measures up" • •
• • Written by George Anthony — Special to The Ottawa Journal • •
• • Edith Head said, "Mae West is in her 80s now, but she stands for costume fittings for hours and never complains. Some of our young actresses on the way up should take lessons from her!" 
• • Designing for Mae West, Edith Head maintains, is easy as pie. "Her own style dictates her own styles. She is unique a one-of-a-kind original. Did you know she started the whole feather-boa look, years ago? Well, she did. When that look was adopted by Paris they called it Le Vogue Mae West and that was the only time an American style was adopted by Paris. It's always the other way around."
• • But still, Miss West is almost 86 now. Surely she requires some, uhhhh, camouflage?
• • "Not a stitch," said Head. "And everyone on that set knows it, because people were coming in and out all the time we did the fittings, and it didn't faze Mae one bit. Why should it? Her measurements now are exactly the same as they were when she was at Paramount last time. And I know, because I did her clothes."
• • "It pays to have fans like that," said Mae West • •
• • "Sextette" wasn't supposed to be made at Paramount. MGM and Warner Bros., both wanted it but balked over West's script, which she refused to change. Finally, two wealthy young men who had been her fans from childhood came up with the money to finance the film, and the studio facilities they rented happened to be at Paramount. "It pays to have fans like that," says West with a sly smile.
• • When West walked onto the set at the studio she helped save during the Depression with such box-office bonanzas as "I'm No Angel" and "She Done Him Wrong," the foundations of Tinsel Town quivered. "It's just like yesterday," said West. "I feel like I've never left." But leave she did, in 1943, saying she'd "rather do nothing than the wrong thing."
• • She returned to the screen briefly in the Ill-fated "Myra Breckinridge," but decided that her own scripts were best for her. "Let's face it," says West "I have a gift for sex gags."
• • According to designer Head, Mae has a knack for wearing clothes that is unbeatable. "I've created 12 new gowns for Mae, as well as a few pantsuits one in black velvet, one in white satin. She was wearing pantsuits long before anyone else too. But the director (Kenneth Hughes) wasn't crazy about her in pantsuits, so I don't know if you'll get to see them on her."  . . .
• • To be concluded tomorrow — — on Tuesday, 2 September 2014.
• • Source:  Interview in Ottawa Journal (Ottawa, Canada);  published on Tuesday, 30 August  1977.
• • On Tuesday, 1 September 1931 • •
• • After "The Constant Sinner" (set in Harlem) opened, Variety made its feelings known in their issue dated for Tuesday, 1 September 1931.  Variety noted:  "Diamond Lil" was a Mother Goose story compared to this one. 
• • On Friday, 1 September 1939 • •
• • It was on Friday, 1 September 1939 in Great Britain when English viewers saw Mae West featured in a splashy cameo in “Mickey’s Gala Premiere” on the telly.
• • On Monday, 1 September 2014 in Manhattan • •
• • Catch the vocalist Molly Ryan tonight at Birdland. She has prepared a tribute to Mae West called "Come Up and See Me Sometime."  Good luck to Molly!
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • The Noxema shaving cream girl tries to come on like Mae West.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: “Considering what 'Sex' got me, a few days in the pen 'n’ a $500 fine ain’t too bad a deal.”
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Film Daily mentioned Mae West.
• • Due in large part to gangster threats, Mae West will not leave Hollywood on a personal appearance tour on completion of her next Paramount pix. ...
• • Source: Item in Film Daily; published on Thursday, 26 April 1934  
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •    
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this past decade. 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2994th 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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• • Photo:
• • Mae West in 1978

• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mae West: Born in Bushwick

Most Mae-mavens know that MAE WEST was born on Bushwick Avenue and that she was proud of introducing her Brooklyn accent to the movie industry. Born in 1893, the Broadway hopeful honed her skills as a child in amateur vaudeville and stock companies in Brooklyn. At that time, Bushwick and Greenpoint were full of vaudeville houses and repertory theatre groups.
• • In contrast, the borough of Queens had neither opportunity to offer an aspiring performer.
• • This information is well-known and has been published in several Mae West biographies by Emily Wortis Leider, Jill Watts, Simon Louvish, et al.
• • Apparently, no one at The Greater Astoria Historical Society reads books. That is why their hysterical society wrote this pathetic and baseless nonsense recently. To wit:
• • Sex symbol Mae West spent her childhood in Woodhaven [sic] • •
• • Written by The Greater Astoria Historical Society • •
• • The Greater Astoria Historical Society wrote: Star of stage and screen, one of the first Hollywood sex symbols, writer and singer, Mae West’s outsize curves and personality earned her recognition as one of the greatest female film stars of all time.  . . .
• • The Greater Astoria Historical Society wrote:  Mary Jane West was born Aug. 17, 1893. Although sources debate where exactly she was born, she spent her early years in various neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Woodhaven [sic].
• • TRUTH: There is no "debate." Mae West was born right on Bushwick Avenue.
• • TRUTH: Mae West did not spend "her early years" in Woodhaven. By the time her family moved there, Mae was an adult and had been featured in Broadway shows.
• • The Greater Astoria Historical Society wrote: Her father John was a prizefighter known as “Battlin’ Jack West” and mother Matilda was a fashion model. She began singing and dancing at local churches and amateur venues at 5 and later at Neir’s Tavern, which still stands on 78th Street in Woodhaven [sic].
• • The Greater Astoria Historical Society wrote:  The girl from Queens [sic] wowed crowds, and in her teens moved on to vaudeville.  ...
• • For more information, call 718-278-0700.
• • Source for this foolish misinformation: The Queens Ledger (www.timesledger.com ); published on Saturday, 23 August 2014.
• • TRUTH: Mae West did not sing nor did she entertain in Neir's barroom. No other female of Mae's era did either.
• • The Queens Ledger occasionally prints some Mae-malarkey, some fond falsehood about Mae "hanging out" at Louis Neir's place, originally a grocery store that gradually expanded into an all-male saloon for laborers and sweaty factory workers during the brief time the West family resided in the area.
• • No, Mae West did not set foot inside Neir's — — nor did any other respectable women during the Prohibition Era. Why would they? During the 1920s and 1930s, there was no "ladies' entrance" at Neir's and their rarely-cleaned urinals were another reason this Woodhaven dive was a regular gathering spot only for those gritty spit-on-the-floor blue-collar fellows versus couples (until modern times).
• • Factories based in Woodhaven when Mae resided there • • 
• • Woodhaven's growth and building boom were directly linked to the employment opportunities at its local factories, such as Lalance and Grosjean Manufacturing Company (whose sprawling plant resembled a country village); Merit Hosiery Company at 104th Street; Custen Brothers, who produced buttons; Regal Spear Company, who made straw and cloth hats; D. Nussbaum Knitting Mills; Uneeda Garment Company (95th Street); Anheuser-Busch Company (who built a steel plant to make ice cream on 94th Street during Prohibition); et cetera.
• • Because it developed as a blue-collar factory district, Woodhaven had no local theatres for live performances of plays, ballets, operas, nor concerts. During the 1920s, however, movie houses began to be constructed.
• • The West family relocated often. By the mid-1920s, for instance, they were no longer in Woodhaven and were living in Floral Park, Queens.
• • On Sunday, 30 August 1931 • •
• • When Mae West brought her play "The Constant Sinner" to Atlantic City for a try-out in August 1931, the crowds lined up for tickets.
• • Noted The New York Times: "With two rows of standees and chairs in the aisles for extra celebrants, last Monday night saw Mae West run through her latest daisy chain, 'The Constant Sinner,' at the Apollo Theatre in Atlantic City. . ."  Their man on the aisle described this play as "underworld material," leading us to assume that this sheltered individual rarely ventured above the wilds of West 59th Street.
• • Source: The N.Y. Times on Sunday, 30 August 1931.
• • On Sunday, 30 August 1970 in The L.A. Times • •
• • Joyce Haber referred to Mae West as "the Last of the Living Legends" in The Los Angeles Times Calendar on Sunday, 30 August 1970.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West never forgets a friend nor a kindness, and seems to have an inexhaustible memory for the faces of those who have crossed her pathway in her long journey from Brooklyn to Broadway.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "I'm Mae West, I can't wear the same clothes twice."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An item in The Pittsburgh Press mentioned Mae West.
• • "Mae West Rings Up Profits in Her Tour" • •
• • The Pittsburgh Press said:  Mae West got half of the $327,000 grossed by her personal appearance tour and will make another soon. ...
• • Source: "Other Bits of Filmland News" in The Pittsburgh Press; published on Sunday, 12 June 1938
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •    
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this past decade. 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2993rd 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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• • Photo:
• • Mae West in 1932 and as a child in Brooklyn stock

• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
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Friday, August 29, 2014

Mae West: Promised, Threatened

MAE WEST was making headlines in Ottawa in August 1977.
• • "Mae West — She still more than measures up" • •
• • Written by George Anthony — Special to The Ottawa Journal • •
• • HOLLYWOOD — — "She has more glamor per square inch than anybody in the world," said Edith Head, dismissing all other contenders with a wave of her hand. We were sitting in Head's Oscar-lined office at Universal studios, and we were talking about Mae West — — who isn't these days? — — and her finally completed "Sextette," the screen comedy she's both promised and threatened to make for the last two decades.
• • When "Sextette" went into production, West chose British actor Timothy Dalton (Heathcliff in the remake of "Wuthering Heights") as her new leading man. But just to keep the odds in her favor, she also cast Alice Cooper, Ringo Starr, George Hamilton, Tony Curtis, and (gasp) Dom DeLuise as a clutch of former lovers and husbands.
• • Before the cameras rolled, however, Hollywood's prima designing woman, the prolific and award-laden Head, was summoned to design a dozen new gowns for West. "I have always loved working with Mae," said Edith Head with a blissful sigh, "because she's so professional. Mae West is in her 80s now, but she stands for costume fittings for hours and never complains. Some of our young actresses on the way up should take lessons from her!"  ...
• • To be continued on Monday, Labor Day.
• • Source:  Interview in Ottawa Journal (Ottawa, Canada); published on Tuesday, 30 August 1977.
• • On Sunday, 30 August 1931 • •
• • When Mae West brought her play "The Constant Sinner" to Atlantic City for a try-out in August 1931, the crowds lined up for tickets. 
 • • Noted The New York Times: "With two rows of standees and chairs in the aisles for extra celebrants, last Monday night saw Mae West run through her latest daisy chain, 'The Constant Sinner,' at the Apollo Theatre in Atlantic City. . ."  Their man on the aisle described this play as "underworld material," leading us to assume this sheltered individual rarely ventured above the wilds of West 96th Street.
• • Source: The N.Y. Times on Sunday, 30 August 1931.
• • On Sunday, 30 August 1970 in The L.A. Times • •
• • Joyce Haber referred to Mae West as "the Last of the Living Legends" in The Los Angeles Times Calendar on Sunday, 30 August 1970.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Even at the fourscore mark, Mae West remains a remarkable figure of a woman.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "There was the robber, waving his gun in my face, and asking me to turn over my jewels to him. I said. 'Listen, big boy, you can have the jewels, but do you mind lowering that gun a bit? I can always get more jewels, but I've got to have my face to do it with!'"
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article by Associated Press discussed Mae West.
• • Bob Thomas wrote: The interviewer wonders if this soft-voiced woman of 80 could have aroused such a clamor. The answer is yes. She continues to spout such comments as: "Sex is like a small business; you gotta watch over it." ...
• • Source: Syndicated article rpt in The Journal News (Hamilton, Ohio); published on Saturday, 18 August 1973
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •    
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this past decade. 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2992nd 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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• • Photo:
• • Mae West with Mr. America in 1977

• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
  Mae West