Joe Franklin has always enjoyed MAE WEST. During 1951 — 1999, when he was the host of television's first talk show "Joe Franklin's Memory Lane," the king of nostalgia invited Mae West to be featured six times on his popular program broadcast from New York City on WABC-TV and on WOR-TV.
• • In 2005, Joe Franklin enjoyed seeing scenes from Courting Mae West — — and this month he had a chance to get acquainted with the current cast when he popped in on a performance at the Kaufman Theatre [123 East 24th Street] on Monday 21 July 2008.
• • Before coming to the play, Joe Franklin plugged the show during the "Potpourri" section of his broadcast on Bloomberg Radio.
• • Here's Joe Franklin during Intermission, enjoying some refreshments. "With her whip cracking dialogue," Joe Franklin told theatre manager Mark Sportiello, "the playwright shows she is as much of a word jockey as Mae West."
• • An expert on vaudeville and a member of a prestigious sheet music society, Joe Franklin is no stranger to the lawless decade — — the Prohibition Era — — when Courting Mae West takes place.
• • According to Joe Franklin, what he enjoys about this serious-minded comedy is the sense that what happens in Act I and Act II is spontaneous and yet inevitable. And he enjoys the characters: the ambitious women and the complex, lovable scoundrels around them.
• • Joe Franklin was completely mesmerized by the star of Courting Mae West — — Yvonne Sayers, who relished the opportunity to play such a unique woman in American history.
• • "She's a high-wattage actress," said Franklin. "She has the skill to keep her performance as acting and not an impersonation of Mae West."
• • A lifelong theatre buff, Joe Franklin has seen many performers try to portray Mae and fail. "I feel that, ultimately, you have to love the individual you are playing. You have to have a certain feeling. You have to have passion for the person. I can see that Yvonne Sayers is the type who prepared for the part by trying to understand why Mae did what she did, defending it, and getting behind it."
• • According to Joe Franklin, Yvonne Sayers is destined for stardom. "She's got what it takes — — just like Mae."
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West cast • • Yvonne Sayers illustration • •
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • author of "Courting Mae West" with Joe Franklin and Mae • •