It was 1911 when 18-year-old MAE WEST was cast in a new musical slotted for the Winter Garden on Broadway: "Vera Violetta" (starring Gaby Deslys and Al Jolson).
• • Most of the music was prepared by composer Edmund Eysler who was born during March in Vienna [12 March 1874]. The lyricist for "Vera" - - a show set in Paris, France - - was Harold Atteridge.
• • Mae West was assigned the second number in Act I. Backed by the chorus, Mae [as Mademoiselle Angelique] was to sing "Angelique of the Opera Comique," a song whose lyrics were written by Melville Gideon to music composed by Louis A. Hirsch.
• • During the out-of-town previews, Mae had the brilliant idea of performing this second number . . . a few minutes into the show . . . wearing an elaborate headpiece. Intentionally, the Brooklyn teenager was mistaken for Gaby Deslys (who played Mme. Adelle de St. Cloche) and the audience applauded wildly. Thus when Gaby Deslys finally did appear onstage for the sixth song, the audience did not realize that "Madame de St. Cloche" was the French-born star.
• • Gaby Deslys got Mae West fired before opening night in Manhattan.
• • Looking back with regret, Mae said, "I should have waited until the Winter Garden premiere before I tried that maneuver."
• • Despite introducing the Gaby Glide, a new dance choreographed for her by Ned Wayburn, Gaby Deslys was not as successful in this show as crowd-pleaser Al Jolson.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •