Of course, it's time to commemorate a woman admired by MAE WEST on her birthday in October.
• • Aimee Semple McPherson [9 October 1890 –– 27 September 1944], also known as "Sister Aimee" or simply "Sister," was an evangelist and media sensation in the 1920s and 1930s; she was also the founder of the Foursquare Church.
• • McPherson had started out as a Salvation Army worker. [Mae West featured a Salvation Army worker Captain Cummings in her 1928 Broadway play "Diamond Lil." Diamond Lil learns that he is really "the Hawk" and doing detective work undercover. In the film "She Done Him Wrong," Captain Cummings is played by Cary Grant.]
• • Aimee McPherson spent four years [1918-1922] as an itinerant Pentecostal preacher, finally settling with her mother in Los Angeles, California, and founding the Foursquare Gospel church. She supervised construction of a large, domed church building in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, and it was completed in June 1923. Named Angelus Temple, it had a seating capacity of over 5,000.
• • When Aimee Semple McPherson, the famous Evangelist (with marcel-waved hair) from Los Angeles visited New York on February 19th, 1927, she insisted on visiting Texas Guinan's club. Mae West was there to meet Aimee, too.
• • Texas Guinan welcomed McPherson and this was quite a promotional dream - - two gals of Irish descent in different types of show business. Aimee invited Texas to her Glad Tidings Tabernacle (West 33rd Street) the next day. Texas and her chorus girls showed up (before going to work), to the astonishment of everyone.
• • At the time, women in the pulpit ministry were rare — — those who wore makeup and jewelry in the pulpit, nonexistent. McPherson's uniqueness in this respect, her flamboyance and her unashamed use of low-key sex appeal to attract converts, endeared her to her followers in Los Angeles. She would invariably appear before parishioners in a white gown, carrying a bouquet of flowers. When it was time to take up a collection, McPherson used to say, "No coins, please!"
• • Mae was paying attention to all the stagecraft and image-building at work here.
• • Mae West played an evangelist in Nome, Alaska in her film "Klondike Annie" - - released in February 1936 after a lengthy hold-up by the censors who refused to let Mae West appear as a preacher or religious worker onscreen.
• • On 27 September 1944 Aimee Semple McPherson was found dead of an overdose of prescription barbiturates.
• • Photo of Mae West as Klondike Annie from a vintage lobby card.
• • Photo: Mae West • • 1936 • •