Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mae West: Men in Her Life

MAE WEST used to say: "It's not the men in my life — — it's the life in my men."
• • But who were the men in the actress's private life, for instance, during the Prohibition Era — — before she went out to Hollywood?
• • Crime boss Owney Madden was one lover. The owner of The Cotton Club backed Mae's Broadway shows, attended some of her séances, and also escorted her to her mother's funeral.
• • Handsome George Raft, a former boxer who danced at Texas Guinan's speakeasies, ran errands for Owney — — such as retrieving his box office cut every evening after "Sex" and "Diamond Lil." Raft handled more than cash inside Mae's dressing room, where the dapper New Yorker staged a steamy (private) performance of his own on Broadway.
• • Lawyer James Timony became Mae's manager, muscle, and sometime lover. Though Mae declined his offer of marriage, the two kept their professional partnership intact until he died of a heart attack.
• • Good-looking Jack LaRue [19021984], who appeared in "Diamond Lil," had an affair with Mae and remained her intimate friend for life.
• • One of the actors in "Sex" stole Mae's heart. "She found him enchanting; he sent her flowers," wrote biographer Jill Watts. "But her interest waned after she learned that he had been married and fathered a child, was divorced, and was also bisexual. West insisted that this experience compelled her to study differing psychological interpretations of homosexuality." This bewildering amour was another reason that inspired Mae West to write "The Drag."
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West & Owney Madden • • 1930
• •

Mae West.

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