Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mae West: "Mad" Man

MAE WEST had a talent for hooking up with top gangsters, mad, bad, and indispensable to know.
• • "So sweet and so vicious," was Mae's character rating for Owney "The Killer" Madden, whose birthday is today.
• • Mae West acknowledged meeting Madden when she moved into the Harding Hotel at 205 West 54th Street. Owney Madden provided the financing for several of Texas Guinan's speakeasies — — and Guinan's Club Abbey operated from the basement of the Harding Hotel during Mae's residency. Texas Guinan employed a tap dancer, George Ranft [stage name George Raft], who was also Madden's bagman.
• • When Owney Madden financed Mae West's Broadway show "Sex," George made nightly visits to pick up the gangster's share of the box-office profits. Soon George and Mae became lovers, a mutually beneficial relationship.
• • Owen "Owney" Madden [born 18 December 1891 in England] grew up in midtown Manhattan's gang-ridden westside. In the early 1900s, his family moved to 352 Tenth Avenue, off the corner of West 30th Street. Mary Madden and her three youngsters had moved in with her sister-in-law Elizabeth O'Neil; both widows were raising children while trying to support a husband-less household. Young Owney soon joined the Gopher Gang and became a one person crime wave.
• • During the Prohibition Era, Madden owned the popular Cotton Club in Harlem. When Francis Ford Coppola made "The Cotton Club," he chose Bob Hoskins to portray Madden.
• • On 24 April 1965, Owney Madden, 75, died in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Harding Hotel • •
Mae West.

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