MAE WEST knew she had a real hit on her hands, at last. On 4 April 1928, if you were standing outside of Leo Teller's Broadway Theatre in Brooklyn, New York [once located at Court Street and Stockton Street], you would have heard thunderous applause and cheers.
• • "You'd have thought that a favorite bootlegger had come back from Atlanta," wrote drama critic Robert Garland in the New York Evening Telegram on 5 April 1928. "[Mae] makes Miss Ethel Barrymore look like the late lamented Bert Savoy."
• • Mae West and her producers had decided to try out her play "Diamond Lil" in the actress's hometown before bringing it to Manhattan. Apparently, the show brought down the house. It was a clean sweep: both the critics and the public adored it.
• • It's always been said that Mae selected an 1890s Bowery setting because the corsetted turn-of-the-century fashions were more flattering to her curvy figure. No one has yet given her credit for recognizing that an old-fashioned saloon setting - - showing bar-goers enjoying their beer - - would touch the right nerve during the "parched" Prohibition Era.
• • So consider it said: Mae West understood her audience and gave them onstage what they missed very much in 1928 - - freedom to bend an elbow and imbibe in public. Brilliant, Mae!
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • April 1928 • •