Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mae West: The Apollo

Atlantic City, NJ has been in the news lately, a seaside showplace where MAE WEST performed for hundreds of salt-water-taffy-devotees and pleasure-seekers at the Apollo Theatre in 1931.

• • A recent news item prepared by The Associated Press lamented that the New Jersey shore resort will soon be revamped: "big changes are under way in Atlantic City, whose streets gave the Monopoly board spaces their names."
• • According to this article: "The Miss America pageant and the fabulous old boardwalk hotels are already gone. Now the list of vanishing Atlantic City icons includes the Steel Pier (where visitors were entertained by top-name singers and movie stars), and a historic airfield that gave the world the term airport. . . . As the new Atlantic City competed for the entertainment dollar with Las Vegas and other gambling hubs, a lot of what made the old city special for so many people has disappeared. . . . Last month [October 2006], the Steel Pier shut down for good. It will be torn down in a few months to make way for a mix of stores, restaurants and dwelling units across from the Trump Taj Mahal casino, which owns the nine-acre property. . . ."

• • The Steel Pier (which opened in 1898) hosted performances from big band leaders (Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey), and movie stars (Bob Hope, Charlie Chaplin). Vaudevillians Abbott & Costello honed their "Who's On First?" routine there. Fred Astaire, MAE WEST, Ricky Nelson, and The Three Stooges all packed 'em in at the pier. . . . Curiously, the Steel Pier burned [- steel burns? -] in a 1982 fire, and then reopened as a kiddie-ride midway atop a concrete foundation in 1993. . . .
• • When MAE WEST brought her play "The Constant Sinner" to Atlantic City 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. . ." [NY Times 30 August 1931].
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• • Photo: Mae West • • Apollo Theatre • • August 1931 • •
• • "The Constant Sinner" cast featured Walter Petrie (as Wayne Baldwin) • •

Mae West.

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