That unreliable source of information — — the celebrity tell-all — — has showed no signs of bookstore slowdown since Mae West penned her memoirs with the help of a ghostwriter [Stephen Longstreet] fifty years ago in 1958.
• • Many celebrity memoirs over-exaggerate the rotten aspects of a childhood in order to flatter the achievements that follow it. However, Julie Andrews resisted this in Home A Memoir of My Early Years.
• • In her autobiography Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It, Mae West certainly revealed no household poverty nor unhappiness, no past traumas, no "slippery slopes" where she fell down on the upward climb to success, no struggles with alcoholism, no childhood sexual molestations, etc. And it was not a kiss and tell book either.
• • Mae West (who was totally disinclined to air dirty linen) used this as a reason: that her fans wanted to know that Mae West always triumphed, that people did not want to see her as unable to cope or besieged by demons. Her book covered up a lot of unpleasantness.
• • What did Mae West hide in her memoir and her media interviews?
• • She hid the fact that she was sexually molested when young by a relative and also by a teacher. She hid the fact that she had a love affair with a married man when she was 21. She hid the fact that she got lousy reviews for 25 years. She hid the fact that she was fired from several Broadway shows before April 1926 (when she wrote "Sex" and produced it with her mother's savings). She hid the fact that no one would hire her between 1923 — 1925. She hid the fact that she was a bigamist, etc. She hid a lot of warts.
• • In other words, Mae West refused to give herself "a wound."
• • The public prefers stars who have a WOUND: who have had demons to overcome, whose glamorous public image hides dark secrets, etc .
• • While Mae West, who died in 1980, has no fan clubs, and is all but forgotten, Marilyn Monroe [1926 — 1962], who did not write her own plays and scripts, and who struggled with pills and alcohol and depression all her life, who had many marital break-ups, etc., has fan clubs galore and a legion of fans around the globe.
• • Fans love stars who have been WOUNDED.
• • One of the key elements of "Courting Mae West" that Steve Rossi (and other people who knew Mae) commented on is that this play shows Mae West under siege and wounded, and it is quite poignant when you watch Mae struggle and resolve her problems.
• • "Courting Mae West" opens on Saturday night 19 July 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre in New York City. Louis Lopardi directs this 95-minute serious-minded comedy.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1897 • •