Since October is "Italian Culture Month" in New York and other cities, it is the season to highlight an Italian musician who married MAE WEST.
• • Guido Deiro was born 1886 in northern Italy.
• • Guido Deiro [1886-1950] was to the piano-accordion as Barrios was to the guitar, John Philip Sousa to the marching band, Scott Joplin to ragtime, and Zez Confrey to novelty piano. All but forgotten today (outside of accordion circles), Guido Deiro gained renown in the early 20th century for his virtuoso live performances. In 1910, he came to the USA from Italy and began performing on the vaudeville circuit.
• • In 1913, the handsome, successful 27-year-old accordionist (who was married to Julia Tatro at the time) met a 20-year-old vaudevillian Mae West, while both were performing in a vaudeville show in Detroit. The couple quickly fell in love and secretly married. Mae signed her marriage license as Catherine Mae Belle West; at the time she was still married to dancer Frank Wallace.
• • Mae filed for divorce from Guido Deiro on the grounds of adultery on 14 July 1920. The divorce was granted by the Supreme Court of the State of New York on 9 November 1920. Guido almost immediately re-married for the third time. Mae later said, "Marriage is a great institution. I'm not ready for an institution."
• • The two did not see each other again until 1943, when Guido looked for Mae in Hollywood after she had become a movie star. By then, Mae had also legally shed her ex-husband Frank Wallace, after a lengthy court proceeding and Guido had split from his fourth wife, who was about 30+ years his junior. Though once a high-earner and very generous to everyone, unfortunately, Guido was destitute by then. He showed her an article he had written, Mae West and Me, which he planned to sell to Look Magazine. She was very displeased about this. Guido was a true gentleman, for despite the financial losses he had suffered during the Depression (and his real need of the money Look would have paid him), he handed the article over to Mae instead, and so they kept their former relationship private.
• • They became friends again. Occasionally, Guido would visit her at the Ravenswood Apartments in Hollywood.
• • Guido Deiro died [26 July 1950 in California] of congestive heart failure at age 63.
• • Photograph source: www.guidodeiro.com - - Guido is on the extreme left and Mae (wearing a hat) is next to him.
• • Photo: Mae West • • Guido Deiro • • 1915 • •