Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mae West: Biltmore Renamed

MAE WEST's gay play "Pleasure Man" had a $200,000 box office advance when it premiered at the Biltmore on 1 October 1928. The police raided the show, however, and shut it down the same night. Perhaps this was an easy target, since the theatre was on the same block as the precinct: 47th Street, west of Broadway.
• • The infamous raid at the Biltmore is dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West," which will debut on Saturday 19 July 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre in Manhattan.
• • Opened in 1925, the Biltmore also launched a number of successes, most notably "Brother Rat" (with Jose Ferrer); "See My Lawyer" (with Milton Berle); and the long-running tribal rock musical of the 1960s "Hair."
• • After years of neglect, the Biltmore was magnificently renovated and became the Tony Award-winning Manhattan Theatre Club's Broadway headquarters. It has been decided that the playhouse will be renamed the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in recognition of the pioneering Broadway publicist.
• • According to Playbill, the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre will be dedicated prior to the start of the 2008
09 season.
• • Playbill Staffwriter Kenneth Jones had a lot to say about Mr. Friedman, who was hired to promote Mae West's Broadway revival of "Diamond Lil" in 1950.
• • Kenneth Jones writes: Born and raised in New York City, Samuel J. Friedman (1912—1974) was a pioneer in theatrical publicity, according to MTC. "Legendary for his stunts, personality and press agentry, Mr. Friedman began his career in 1937 at the Shubert Organization on a Cole Porter musical You Never Know, starring Clifton Webb, Libby Holman, and Lupe Velez. In the early 1950s he opened National Press Agents with partner Bill Doll and at various times served as Vice President of Arthur P. Jacobs Co., Inc., VP of Publicity for United Artists Motion Pictures and PR Director of Hugh Hefner's Playboy Enterprises. He was a lifetime member and officer of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers. Along the way he worked with such legendary performers as Gypsy Rose Lee (Star and Garter, 1942), Montgomery Clift (The Searching Wing, 1944), Billy Rose (Diamond Horseshoe, 1946) Josephine Baker (Paris Sings Again, 1947), Mae West (Diamond Lil, 1950), Bette Davis (Two's Company, 1952), Lotte Lenya (The Threepenny Opera, 1954), Jerry Orbach (The Threepenny Opera, 1955), Shirley Booth (Miss Isobel, 1957), Peter Ustinov (Romanoff and Juliet, 1957), Jackie Gleason (Take Me Along, 1959), Roddy McDowall (Compulsion, 1959), Jon Voight (That Summer, That Fall, 1967), Tammy Grimes (The Only Game in Town, 1968), Claire Bloom (Hedda Gabler, 1971), Victor Borge and Marcel Marceau. ...
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• • Byline: Kenneth Jones
• • Published in: Playbill
• • Published on: 18 June 2008
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • • 1 October 1928 news clip
• •

Mae West.

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