When Ann Jillian portrayed Mae West for ABC-TV's viewers in the spring of 1982, she was far luckier than the Brooklyn bombshell. Co-starring as Mae's burly lawyer-manager James A. Timony was the handsome actor James Brolin mouthing sentences in E. Arthur Kean's fairy-dusted confection.
• • In reality, the Brooklyn-bred attorney Matilda West introduced to her daughter in 1916 was loyal and clever — — but certainly no oil painting. When they met, Mae was 23 and Jim was 30, a solidly built balding fellow who limped and leaned on a cane adorned with an elk's tooth.
• • Though they were both born in Massachusetts, Jim's parents Thomas and Mary Timony each had Irish-English ancestry. A builder and contractor, Thomas K. Timony [1847 — 1912] provided well for his brood. Before marriage Mary [1854 — 1935] had been a teacher in a public school. Of their seven children, five survived and were raised in a substantial dwelling that still exists in pristine condition on Rutland Road [in the Lefferts Park section of Flatbush].
• • A devout Roman Catholic, Jim Timony carried rosary beads and began each morning by going to Mass. Mae accompanied him during this daily ritual. For decades they went everywhere together — — on cross-country trains, on the Queen Mary, in Mae's "house car," and in limousines.
• • The New York Times obituary, alas, reported his age incorrectly when they announced his death on 5 April 1954 from a heart attack at his Hollywood home. According to his obit, Timony had been in retirement for five years due to poor health.
• • Calling James A. Timony the manager of Mae West for 25 years, and the person who "guided her to success," The Times also noted that he "received major credit for her development from a relatively obscure singer and dancer into an internationally known prototype of the American siren."
• • The Mae West Blog is saluting James A. Timony — — celebrating his life and successful partnership with the Empress of Sex, an intimate relationship that only ended with his death in early April 1954 at age 68.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Art: Michael Di Motta • • Mae West • • Jim Timony • • 9 February 1927 • •