Monday, February 04, 2008

Mae West: Miguel Covarrubias

Miguel Covarrubias drew MAE WEST so memorably and so many times. And he died on 4 February 1957.
• • Born in Mexico City to a prominent and wealthy Mexican family, Miguel Covarrubias was a popular artist in the early 20th century. He drew the era's most notable figures like MAE WEST whom he sketched for The New Yorker [dated 5 May 1928] — along with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Josef Stalin, Charlie Chaplin, and other VIPs all hilariously re-imagined via his exaggerated sketches.
• • José Miguel Covarrubias [22 November 1904 — 4 February 1957] was a painter and caricaturist, ethnologist, and art historian. Dissatisfied with his career in his hometown, the painter moved to New York City in 1924, illustrating actors and prominent figures for several top magazines.
• • Actor John Huston, mesmerized by Mae West's song "Frankie and Johnny" in her Broadway hit Diamond Lil, spent a year traveling the USA, collecting versions of the song. Huston partnered with Covarrubias on his 1930 book "Frankie and Johnny"; Covarrubias drew the mulatto prostitute Frankie Baker as a Caucasian woman who looked like Mae West.
• • Miguel Covarrubias married the dancer Rosa Rolando and the couple resided in Manhattan until 1932, when they took a trip to Southeast Asia (Java, Bali, India, Vietnam), Africa, and Europe on his Guggenheim Fellowship.
• • Covarrubias returned to Mexico City where he taught ethnology at the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia.
• • He contributed to the fields of caricature, book illustration, painting, museography, collecting, set design, and writing.
• • Covarrubias died in a Mexico City hospital from complications due to diabetes. [Mae West was a diabetic, too.]
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West drawn by Covarrubias for Paramount • • 1932 • •

Mae West.

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