During the 1920s, MAE WEST was written about only a few times by the oracle of Broadway, namely Theatre Magazine. For their September 1928 issue, however, Theatre Magazine commissioned a full-page Diamond Lil illustration from a local whiz-kid — — Irving Hoffman.
• • Coincidentally, Mae's friend Texas Guinan appeared in the same issue. Texas was still making headlines after her star turn in "Padlocks of 1927." Ah, but the queen of the nightclubs did not generate a zippy line drawing by the high-flying Hoffman.
• • Born in 1910, and the son of a Bronx schoolteacher, Irving Hoffman grew up wearing thick glasses due to defective corneas. His pal Damon Runyon described him as "a great document of a tall, loose-jointed fellow."
• • And, oh brother, what he documented! While still in his teens, Hoffman began feeding juicy scraps of Gotham's gossip to Walter Winchell. His pen also showed so much promise with amusing cartoons and caricatures that the Morning Telegraph hired him to illustrate its "Beau Broadway" column.
• • At 22, he began reviewing plays for the Hollywood Reporter, seldom wasting words. Example: Strange Fruit — "a lemon"; Billion Dollar Baby — "inflation." When one Broadway producer complained that Irving Hoffman was physically unqualified for his job because he "can't see," Hoffman squinted agreeably and said, "Yes, but there's nothing wrong with my nose."
• • Look at the wayward strap 18-year-old Hoffman immortalized on Mae's gown.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Art: • • Mae West by Irving Hoffman • • 1928 • •