Sunday, October 10, 2004

Mae West: Timothy Dalton

MAE WEST co-starred with some handsome leading men such as Timothy Dalton.
• • Timothy Dalton was born in Colwyn Bay, Wales on 21 March 1944. Though Welsh-born, he is of British, Italian, and Irish ancestry. His mother is from the Bronx (New York). He grew up in Manchester, England with a background in show-biz, since both of his grandfathers were vaudevillians. After leaving school, he joined the National Youth Theatre for 3 summers, and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for 2 years. He joined the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1966, where he played many leading roles.
• • Timothy Dalton first flew to Hollywood in 1977, to become the leading man of the aging movie queen Mae West [1893-1980] in her last film. In Sextette (1978), with a cast that included Tony Curtis, Ringo Starr, George Hamilton, Walter Pidgeon, and George Raft, Timothy even ended up marrying the cinema legend whose sexual suggestiveness was as amorously artful as it was essentially innocent. He will never ever forget the experience.
• • "I'll never forget meeting her for the first time. We went in to see Mae West in a room where everything was white with gold trim on it. It was quite small, I thought, for somebody as fabulously rich as she was. It was only later that I realized that she owned the entire apartment block, though I doubt that she ever spent a penny on herself in her life; everybody was too busy buying her presents and asking her out.
• • "Then Mae West came in. She was wearing a white suit and a large bouffant hairstyle and these long nails ... there was a great lady. I was very curious, very fascinated by her. Not to put too fine a point on it, we were all wondering, knowing how old she was, if we were going to be able to work with her.
• • "As it happened, she was delightful. I think the most extraordinary thing about knowing Mae West was the realization that she was a brilliant lady. When somebody is that famous, you're never quite sure whether her fame stems largely from the publicity hokum, but she could always come up with a line that was funnier than anybody else's. . . ."
• • "Of course," adds Timothy with a smile that conceals more than reveals, "she was a bit of a flirt. But she tried it only once with me! She had a nice twinkle in her eye, a nice sparkle. Oh, it was definitely an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world."
• • Come up and see Mae online:
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