Friday, November 07, 2008

Mae West: Rudolf Friml

MAE WEST was a hit in the legit thanks to Rudolf Friml.
• • Born in Prague on 7 December 1879, Friml was a pianist, violinist, and composer. When Victor Herbert refused to compose a new operetta for the temperamental diva Emma Trentini, the assignment went to Friml. "The Firefly" [1912] became a popular hit, and Friml went on to compose twenty Broadway scores — — including one for a long-running hit that featured Mae West — — and two original screen musicals
• • Playing opposite Ed Wynn in Arthur Hammerstein's "Sometime," with music by Rudolf Friml, Mae West performed the shimmy for an appreciative Broadway audience. In the dance known as the shimmy, there was hardly any movement of the feet, but continuous movement of the shoulders, torso and pelvis.
• • This light-hearted show opened at the Shubert Theatre on 4 October 1918. The musical closed in June 1919, after running for 283 performances. That
was ninety years ago this October when 25-year-old Mae was first cast in a big mainstage show produced by Arthur Hammerstein. Years ago, Mae admitted she and Hammerstein had a fling.
• • The Shubert Theatre is still located in the heart of Times Square [225 West 44th Street, NYC 10036].

• • Time Magazine ran an article on the composer in their November 1939 issue. Friml told an interviewer that Victor Herbert communicated via an Ouija board. Unfortunately, the spirit world never offered Friml sufficient other-worldly advice to help resurrect his career.
• • When musical tastes changed in the 1940s, Friml decided to retire from composing for the stage and screen. He remained an active lecturer and classical composer in his later years, including occasional appearances on TV.
• • Rudolf Friml died during the month of November — — on 12 November 1972 — — at age 92.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • • Shubert Theatre
• •

Mae West.

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