Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mae West: Spare the Roddy

Mae West's friend Roderick McDowall was born in London on 17 September 1928 — — eighty years ago.
• • Perhaps you remember seeing the lanky Englishman when he played the female impersonator Rene Valentine in "Mae West" [1982], a made for tv bio-pic. McDowall also received credit for [gulp!] "Technical Details" — — which is astonishing since his choices in his scenes with the Brooklyn bombshell all seem false.
• • Moreover, his rift on the elegant Julian Eltinge misses the point; Roddy McDowall looks more like one of Cinderella's ugly step-sisters than the Broadway star of "The Fascinating Widow."
• •
Shouldn't someone have noticed that the bawdy over-the-top drag queen Mae most adored was the campy cut-up Bert Savoy — — and not the inscrutable Mr. Eltinge?
• • Anyway, one happy fella was Richard F. Shepard, whose New York Times review said: "Roddy McDowall is persuasive as a female impersonator who puts Miss West on the path to stardom by fixing her stage personality and appearance; he is almost scholarly and calm, the lifelong friend and confidant" [Richard F. Shepard, NY Times, 14 August 1984].
• • Directed by Lee Phillips, the 1982 bio-pic also featured Ann Jillian as Mae West, James Brolin as Jim Timony, et al.
• • Decide for yourself how watchable Roddy McDowall is in this scene:
• • The actor died of lung cancer in California on 3 October 1998.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • • none
• •

Mae West.

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