In June 1914 Willie Hammerstein died — — and, oh, what an angel he had been to MAE WEST. In 1912 and 1913, Hammerstein booked the teenager for eleven week-long engagements at his vaudeville attraction situated in Longacre [later Times] Square. The location was popularly known by New Yorkers as "the corner."
• • In 1899, Oscar Hammerstein built his fifth showplace — the Victoria Theatre — at the corner of West 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue. Stars like MAE WEST, Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Buster Keaton, Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, and Eva Tanguay were among the thousands of performers who made Hammerstein's Victoria the vaudeville "nut house" of Times Square.
• • Mainly, it was Oscar's son Willie Hammerstein who deserves credit for the playhouse's 17-year successful run. Willie had the knack for booking crowd-pleasing stagebills along with a peacock's genius for public relations.
• • In 1900, Oscar Hammerstein built his sixth theatre — the Republic Theatre — next door to his Victoria Theatre on West 42nd Street and leased it to the immensely successful producer, David Belasco. Retaining roof rights of both buildings, Oscar opened Hammerstein's Roof Garden above both theatres. Mae West often played at "the Roof" as well.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West venue • • Hammerstein's Victoria • •