Friday, August 15, 2008

Mae West: Tabloid Tycoon

MAE WEST was tailed and hounded by the muck-raking newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst — — with a Javert-like blood lust.
• • Born in California and educated at Harvard, William Randolph Hearst [29 April 1863 — 14 August 1951] moved to New York City and acquired The New York Journal. He found the power of the pen intoxicating. By crusading for civic improvement and exposing municipal corruption, he greatly increased the paper's circulation. Through his publishing empire, he exercised enormous political influence and aired his opinions.
• • This is how The Daily Mirror, a Hearst paper, greeted "Sex" when it opened in 1926: "a monstrosity plucked from the garbage can, destined for the sewer."
• • Then, during the 1930s, William Randolph Hearst called on Congress to do something about the Mae West menace.
• • Maybe what Hearst resented most was not just her increased influence but her affluence. In 1934, Mae West became the highest-paid entertainer in America, with an income of $399,166. The following year, her earnings went up to $480,833 — — exceeded only by the tabloid tycoon William Randolph Hearst.
• • In an interview, Mae West spoke about him: "Originally, I started writin' 'cause I had to, nobody else understood how I made fun of sex, so I couldn't find the right vehicles. When I came to movies, I was already a skilled writer, I coulda made it on the writin' alone. I always took it serious: when the papers printed I made more money than anybody but Hearst, he phoned and asked me up to San Simeon. He wanted a romance. I coulda married him, but I was busy. See, I never was one for parties, I always been two people, with two jobs — — writer and star. An' listen, you gotta think to write."
• • Hypocritical Hearst comes to mind during mid-August — why? — because he died on 14 August 1951. He will always be remembered for his bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, which led to the creation of "yellow journalism" — — sensationalized stories of dubious veracity. What? You mean I can't believe what I read in the newspapers? Shucks.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • •
none • •

Mae West.

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