Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mae West: A Fan's Story

Continuing our eye-witness coverage of the MAE WEST panel at UCLA on Monday evening, 23 February 2009, here is a fascinating first-person recollection that was duly noted by our indefatigable Hollywood correspondent, who knew we would find it quite charming.
• • This intensely devastating Angeleno, who appreciates male pulchritude, recounts this narrative: "The only truly memorable story on Monday night was when an audience member told a story of his encounter with Mae West in 1977."
• • The man said he was having dinner at Imperial Gardens in Los Angeles when he heard Mae West was in the house. He saw Paul Novak near the restroom and asked if he could meet Mae West. Paul said, "Sure, come on over to the table."
• • Since this gentleman was very good looking in February 2009, I can only imagine what he must have looked like then. Mae West asked him to sit with them — — she was sitting with a table of male friends. This guy was stunned but pleased and forgot all about his companions at his own table! Then, to his surprise, Mae West asked three of her friends to move, so HE could sit next to her! After dinner, she said, "Ya want an autographed picture?" He said he would be thrilled. She TOOK HIS HAND and they walked through the restaurant to the car with Mae's buddies in tow. The guy's tablemates saw this and almost fainted! Outside, Mae West went through her stack of photos (presumably from the trunk) and discovered she had PRE-SIGNED all of them already TO people (men's names, of course). She said, "Well, it looks like they're already signed, see. So how about this one — — 'to John?'" He said his name wasn't John. Mae West said, "Mmmm. Well, this one's to 'Robert' — — how 'bout that?" He said he couldn't. Then Mae West says, "Well, I'm havin' a party Sunday afternoon. I'll sign one then."
• • He did go to her party. He said she was lovely and gracious, with very soft hands and a smooth face. She signed a photo for him.
• • This story seemed to have woken up much of the audience — — and then the night was over.
• • Unfortunately, there were not too many voyagers into Mae West's storied past on February 23rd. UCLA's promotion coordinators put forth a rather low-energy outreach and the auditorium (which can accommodate 278 listeners) was barely half-full for this free event.
• • The Mae West blog is grateful to these stalwart screen-lovers for their patience and their comments. More front-row details will appear tomorrow.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Mae West: Front Row News

Continuing our eye-witness coverage of the MAE WEST panel at UCLA on 23 February 2009, here are more first-person accounts sent in by our intrepid Hollywood correspondents following Monday's clam-bake.
• • One strikingly handsome Angeleno shares this observation: Brought in from the lobby to the James Bridges Theatre were a few Mae West costumes. And THANK GOD, as they would prove to be the only interesting element of the evening. On display was a well-preserved blue dress worn by Mae's character Peaches O'Day in "Every Day's a Holiday" [released in the USA as holiday fare on 18 December 1937]. This beautifully embellished costume was designed 72 years ago by Elsa Schiaparelli. Also on view were Mae's small white satin shoes used during her speakeasy scenes as Maudie Triplett in "Night After Night" and the black sequined and white fur ensemble whipped up for the 1958 Academy Awards grand opening number with Rock Hudson
— — and later re-used in "Sextette."
• • According to our trusty Angeleno eagle-eye: The Mae West panel was made up of Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times, Charlotte Chandler, Tim Malachosky, Marvin Paige (a notorious "casting" director), Jonathan Kuntz (an historian of the old Hollywood studio system), and Dan Price (a film archivist who actually knew Miss West very well). Biographer Charlotte Chandler — — her notorious giant curls at half mast on this night — — looked remarkably like my deceased friend Quentin Crisp. She appeared fatigued, but spoke very well. It would seem this is an ANNUAL ROUTINE FOR HER. A book per year, and then this kind of christening ritual in the same theater. Charlotte Chandler said Mae West gave her a bottle of baby oil and said it should be applied warm, by a man, all over. She also gave her some cosmetics. She CLAIMED to have heard a "fluttering" not unlike bird wings, only to discover it was Mae's heavy false eyelashes brushing her cheek as she was blinking.
• • Unfortunately, there were not too many voyagers into Mae West's storied past on February 23rd. UCLA's promotion coordinators put forth a rather low-energy outreach and the auditorium (which can accommodate 278 listeners) was barely half-full for this free event.
• • The Mae West blog is grateful to these stalwart screen-lovers for their patience and their comments. More front-row details will appear tomorrow.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mae West: Front Row Views

They came up to see MAE WEST — — about 100 devotees and curiosity seekers, lining up before 7:30 PM on Monday February 23rd outside of UCLA's Melnitz Hall (i.e., the James Bridges Theater, which can seat 248 adults).
• • The Mae West Blog heard from a number of West Coast eye-witnesses and attendees, all of whom are well-versed in MAE-ology. In other words, they've seen all the movies, they know the Westian one-liners by heart, they've read the books, they've collected their share of a-MAE-zing memorabilia, and they were expecting a little class from an event staged at UCLA, where Mae West accepted an award as "Woman of the Century" in 1971 when she was 78 years old.
• • Moderated by Robert Rosen, Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, "the event will be filled with surprises and goodies to make it a night to remember," promised the UCLA press release. However, the evening seems to have been organized by one of the campus leaf-blowers instead.
• • An informed source describes the peculiar "welcome" token on February 23rd: "On our way in, we were all handed a low quality laser copy of Mae West's 1947 passport, which had nothing to do with anything, nor was anyone at all interested, except the die-hards (and there were none here, except me, who has a much higher quality version at home). Why this exceedingly odd item was chosen as a hand-out, no one knew. And no info of any kind was written on it."
• • Our informed source adds: "Inside we saw a gigantic screen with very common, PIXILATED images of Mae West — — every single one obtained by a quick and effortless Google image search."
• • Whose hands were clapping? Another Angeleno insider dishes: "The audience was not comprised of young college students interested in all that Mae West has done for cinema, women, or gay people. The crowd was mostly in the age range of 50 to 70 and two-thirds were male. A sprinkling of women in their 20s — 50s dotted a few rows in this amphitheatre."
• • Unfortunately, there were not too many voyagers into Mae West's storied past on February 23rd. UCLA's promotion coordinators put forth a low-energy outreach and the auditorium was barely half-full.
• • The panelists, charged with discussing their personal and intimate recollections of one of the most fascinating and versatile American icons of the 20th century, were not the most riveting raconteurs, it would appear, alas and alack. A disappointed attendee writes: "I was startled to notice that over one-third of the audience had fallen asleep. Only when Kevin Thomas or Dan Price said something amusing did the listeners seem to be revived for a bit. And even Charlotte Chandler herself appeared to be dozing off on occasion!"
• • One sharp-eyed seat-holder remarked: "At the very beginning, the host said that topics such as what Mae West did for the women's movement, gay people, and the cinema would be discussed, as well as her being a sexual icon. Turns out that no such profound subjects were ever discussed on February 23rd, even in passing."
• • The Mae West blog is grateful to these observers for their comments. More front-row details will appear tomorrow.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mae West: Jim Backus

Jim Backus, a colleague of MAE WEST, was born in February — — on 25 February 1913.
• • The Cleveland native had a durable career and was one of the few actors to do it all: vaudeville, summer stock, Broadway, radio, TV, cartoons, and motion pictures.
• • Supposedly as handy with the ladies after the matinee as he was with charming a director at auditions, Jim Backus began getting his radio career going in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a regular on radio's "The Alan Young Show," portraying Eastern Seaboard snob Hubert Updike III, the prototype for his "Thurston Howell III" characterization on the 1960s TV sitcom "Gilligan's Island."
• • In the cast of "Myra Breckinridge" [1970], the 57-year-old Backus portrayed a doctor.
• • Jim Backus reunited with Mae West three years later, attending the Masquers Club's salute to the Empress of Sex as one of her "Gentlemen in Waiting" (along with George Raft, Jack Larue, Steve Allen, Lloyd Nolan, etc.).
• • When the 1973 event was reborn in an audio format as "Mae Day: The Masquers Club Salutes Mae West CD" [1998], Mae-mavens could hear Jim Backus offering an amusing 4-minute tribute [exactly 4 minutes and 16 seconds long, if you want to get technical] to the buxom blonde guest of honor.
• • Jim Backus died in Los Angeles, California on 3 July 1989 of pneumonia.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mae West: Paul Novak

Imagine those happy occasions that took place yearly each February 24th when MAE WEST planned a birthday celebration for her live-in lover.
• • Born Chester
Rybinsky in Baltimore on 24 February 1923, Mae's darling was thirty years her junior.
• • They met and became acquainted when Charles Krauser, George Eiferman, Irvin "Zabo" Koszewski, Dick DuBois, Dominic Juliano, Joe Gold, Armand Tanny, Gordon Mitchell, and Mickey Hargitay were among the star bodybuilders in West's chorus for all — — or part — — of the show's three-year run.
• • Chuck Krauser changed his name again, becoming Paul Novak — — Mae's main man for the next 24 years.
• • Paul Novak [1923 — 1999] lived to be 76 years old.
• • The British journalist Tom Vallance wrote this intriguingly detailed remembrance ten years ago in 1999.
• • THE LEGENDARY star Mae West once said, "A man in the house is worth two in the street" — — and for the last 26 years of her life Paul Novak was that man, her companion, bodyguard, and acknowledged love of her life who shunned publicity himself but ensured that West's last years were happy ones.
• • He had met West in the 1950s when he became one of the team of musclemen who backed her in her night-club act, and he soon fell in love with her, though she was nearly 30 years his senior. Described as "the epitome of the strong, silent type," he was content to stay in the background and let it be assumed that he was merely the star's bodyguard — — but in fact he was her husband in everything but name.
• • Born Chester Ribonsky in Baltimore in 1923, Novak served as a navy gunner in the Second World War and as a member of the merchant marines fought in Korea and Vietnam. A body-builder with aspirations to be a wrestler, he changed his name to Charles Krauser. His friend Joe Gold, founder of Gold's Gyms and another member of West's chorus line, said, "He changed his name legally in New Orleans to Krauser, thinking it was a good moniker for a wrestler."
• • (It was Mae West who suggested a final change to Paul Novak.)
• • He also worked as a circus handyman before joining West's line of eight loin-clothed musclemen to whom she sang, "I Like To Do All Day What I Do At Night" in the fabled night-club act that made a sensational debut in Las Vegas in July 1954. Time magazine reported, "Mae's troupe proved invigorating even for jaded Las Vegas", and the act subsequently toured the US for over five years. One of the other chorus-boys was the former "Mr Universe" Mickey Hargitay who in 1956 became romantically involved with Jayne Mansfield.
• • When Mansfield and West began to fight over Hargitay, and Mansfield made some publicly disparaging remarks about West's age, the ensuing uproar resulted in Novak's punching Hargitay — — the only occasion on which Novak made the headlines. An intensely private person, he managed for the rest of West's life to stay out of the limelight, though when photographed with her they made a striking couple, West's tiny if voluptuous body contrasting with the wide shoulders and massive chest of her companion.
• • Throughout her career, West had been known for her countless love affairs with actors, wrestlers, prize fighters and chorus boys (she once said, "Sometimes it seems I've known so many men the FBI ought to come to me first to compare fingerprints") but, according to the writer Justin Clayton, "Her love affairs continued until she fell in love with beefy muscle-man Paul Novak, who quickly became her lover, bodyguard, driver, cook and anything else to prove his love for her. From that meeting and up until the end of her long life, Novak would be at Mae's side to tend to her every need. His devotion was noted by nearly everyone who was in their company, and for the first time in her life Mae began to settle down in a monogamous relationship."
• • Though those who knew them attested to their mutual devotion, they were both strong-willed and temperamental, and Novak, like any paid companion, was not popular with all of West's friends and relatives. On one occasion after an argument with West's brother and sister-in-law, whom she supported, Novak rang Joe Gold and asked him to drive him to New Orleans so that he could sign up for another tour of duty with the merchant marines.
• • Dolly Dempsey, a long-time friend of the couple, said, "It was the first time I ever heard Mae really talk like Diamond Lil. As Paul was leaving, she told him, `Just remember, there ain't no swingin' doors in this place!' " Joe Gold added, "Just as Novak was about to board ship in New Orleans he stopped to make a phone call. Returning, he said, `I've got to catch a plane', and he flew home to West, leaving me to drive back to Los Angeles alone."
• • During the final years of West's life, she and Novak lived a quiet life, entertaining small groups of friends (including the directors George Cukor and Robert Wise) or strolling by the sea near the 22-room beach house in Santa Monica where they spent most of their time, though West also had an apartment in Hollywood.
• • With Novak's constant protection and his concern for her diet and exercise, West survived until the age of 87, when she had a series of strokes. On 22 November 1980 she died in her sleep, with Novak at her bedside.
• • A few years before she had said that Novak was "a good guy," adding, "Of course there's 40 guys dyin' for his job!" In her last years West continually asked him to contact an attorney so that she could change her will in his favor, but he later stated, "I always said to her, `Now now, dear, there's plenty of time to do that.' I guess I thought she would live forever. How did she ever pick me — — just a wrestler and roustabout?' "
• • Chester Ribonsky (Paul Novak), sailor, bodybuilder and bodyguard: born Baltimore, Maryland 1923; died Santa Monica, California 14 July 1999.
— — Source: — —
• • Obituary: Paul Novak
• • Byline: Tom Vallance
• • Published by: The Independent [London, England]
• • Published on: Tuesday — — 20 July 1999

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Correction! Mae West researcher and fan Mark Desjardins has furnished us with fresh information. Mr. Desjardins writes: That was a wonderful birthday tribute you posted for Paul Novak. However, I would like to point out that his original birth name, Chester Ribonsky was misspelt; his surname was actually Rybinsky. Kevin Thomas, who knew Paul Novak and Mae West, wrote the Los Angeles Times obituary for him and after it was published, sent me a hand corrected copy. Paul's nephew corrected him after publication. However, for some reason, the improper spelling of his name continues to occur.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Mae West: Westwood Ho!

Enjoy an exciting evening dedicated to MAE WEST on Monday 23 February 2009 at the James Bridges Theater [on the campus of UCLA].
• • There will be guest speakers, film clips, and actual dresses worn by Miss West and designed by Edith Head and Elsa Schiaparelli.
• • Moderated by Robert Rosen, Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, the event will be filled with surprises and goodies to make it a night to remember.
• • The event begins at 7:30PM — — and it is FREE and open to the public.
• • Where: The James Bridges Theater: 302 East Melnitz, Melnitz Hall, Westwood, California 90024; tel 310-206-8013
• • Cross Street — — corner of Sunset Boulevard and Hilgard Avenue
• • Tell 'em you heard about this event on the Mae West blog.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • In 1971 Mae West went to UCLA to accept their "Woman of the Century" award.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mae West: Shocking

It was 1937 during the month of February when Elsa Schiaparelli (Chanel's rival) rolled out her surrealist-inspired Shocking bottle — — shaped like MAE WEST’s torso.
• • Born in Rome, Elsa Schiaparelli [10 September 1890? — 13 November 1973] was an influential Italian fashion designer. Along with Coco Chanel, she dominated fashion between the two World Wars.
• • Over the years, she created many unique designs and was acclaimed internationally. She became a leading international designer of fashion and fragrances. She created numerous perfumes including Salut, Soucis, Shocking, Sleeping, Snuff, Le Roy Soleil, Zut, Eau de Sante, Verveine, Success Fou, Sport, Si, S, So Sweet, and Shocking You.
• • The re-edition of Shocking was presented to fragrance collectors at the Divinessence Exhibit in Paris, France and subsequently on the Elsa Schiaparelli boat at the Fragrance World Exhibition in Cannes, France. The authenticity of the reproduction is attested to by Jean-Marie Martin-Hattenberg, expert pres le Court d'Appel, Membre de l'Union Francaise des Experts, Art et Patrimoine de la Parfumerie.
• • Schiaparelli France has embarked upon a program to meticulously reproduce Elsa Schiaparelli's original fragrances. Her beautiful floral fragrance "Shocking" has been produced in a Baccarat crystal, limited numbered edition bottle.
• • The fragrance, composed of over 500 individual ingredients, is adorned by a crystal bottle in the form of a female bust protected by a glass cover.
• • Elsa Schiaparelli was the first artist, designer, perfumeur to use this form of bottle. The price of the re-edition is $1,000.00.
• • Shocking's Perfumer — — Jean Carles
• • Shocking's Bottle Designer — — LĂ©onore Fini
• • • • Shocking Fragrance Notes • • • •
• • Top Notes — — Bergamot, Aldehydes, Tarragon.
• • Middle Notes — — Honey, Rose, Narcissus.
• • Base Notes — — Clove, Civet, Chypre accord.
• • Reportedly, Mae West's favorite perfume was Joy. We have no information about whether she sampled Shocking or not
— — nor what the original shocking retail price was.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mae West: Leicester Square

When Miss Polly Rae takes to the stage in Great Britain on Friday 13 March 2009, she will deliver a hearty rendition of classic ballads such as MAE WEST's "A Guy What Takes His Time" [according to her press agent].
• • Known as the Queen of Leicester Square — — a title we presume is a compliment — — Polly Rae claims to be the UK's rising star of burlesque. She performs with her acclaimed troupe known as the "Hurly Burly Girlys" (and, yes, they spelt it like that).
• • If you go to see this winsome cabaret act in the West End, you shall find yourself in the luxurious surroundings of the refurbished Leicester Square Theatre, featuring 400 well-upholstered seats for your bottom. Since Miss Polly Rae is famous for teasing naughty nuances from old favorites, she is certainly carrying the Mae West spirit forward.
• • For more info, contact the Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London, England.

• • Mae-mavens will recall that on 7 February 1933, the Brooklyn bombshell recorded "A Guy What Takes His Time" (one of her saucy hits from "She Done Him Wrong") for Brunswick Records.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Mae West: O Night

Rex Reed once co-starred with MAE WEST. Here's an excerpt from his column on the rise and fall of Oscar.
• • Rex Reed writes: Call me yesterday’s child, but after the thrill of Doris Day arm in arm with Clark Gable, or Mae West’s carnal gibes at Rock Hudson on a raunchy duet of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” that almost knocked the show off the air in 1958, the sight of Charlie Kaufman and a coven of assorted Desperate Housewives just doesn’t quite make it.
• • I still think Judy Garland should have won for the achievement of a lifetime in A Star Is Born (1954), instead of dreary Grace Kelly. I remain unconvinced that Judy Holliday should have won in 1951 for Born Yesterday over Bette Davis in All About Eve.
• • How can a sane mind explain how The Greatest Show on Earth beat out The Bad and the Beautiful in 1953? Orson Welles never really won anything; neither did Alfred Hitchcock. James Dean changed the face of movie acting forever, but Oscar gave him the middle finger twice — posthumously, too. Kim Stanley, my favorite actress of all time, wasn’t even nominated for The Goddess.
• • Already disheartened, I pretty much stopped covering the Oscars on a regular basis after Titanic swept the awards in 1998, and for no logical reason, a silly, spastic fop named Roberto Benigni beat Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan the following year. When it comes to grousing, I’m just scratching the surface. It all reminds me of what Hunter Thompson once said about the music business: “A dark, plastic hallway where pimps and thieves run free, and good men die like dogs. … There is also a negative side.”
• • The winds of change have now reached gale force, but here we go again. The songs have been a joke since real songwriters stopped writing them. The last great song with any legs written for the screen was “New York, New York” in 1977. It wasn’t even nominated. In the old days you got musical numbers by Kern, Berlin, and the Gershwins. Now you get X-rated rap about pimps. Aware of the negative impact this trash has provoked, the Academy this year is limiting the category to three songs instead of five, and the performance time to one chorus each. No cigar, but it’s a start. . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Oscar and Me"
• • Byline: Rex Reed
• • Published in: The New York Observer
• • Published on: 17 February 2009
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Critic Rex Reed was born on 2 October 1938 in Fort Worth, Texas to Jimmie M. Reed and Jewell Smith.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mae West: In Pittsburgh

MAE WEST will return to the Pittsburgh area tomorrow night in a rollicking nostalgia-rich stars and stripes production set during wartime.
• • "A USO Tribute Variety Show" will focus on the heyday of Bob Hope's tours, the World War II years of the 1940s. There are some GIs who still can remember when Bob Hope ventured out to the war zones taking with him a constellation of Broadway's best and Hollywood's biggest names.
• • Bob Hope would be accompanied by high-profile stars such as Mae West, Judy Garland, the Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Rita Hayworth, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, Shirley Temple, Jack Benny, and more.
• • All these famous entertainers (and many others) will come to life again through the 50-member — — the largest ever for ACT — — cast.
• • "A USO Tribute Variety Show" was written and organized by producer Paul Wright of North Buffalo and co-directors Cortney Bavera of Worthington and Laura Lloyd of Washington Township.
• • "A USO Tribute Variety Show" is being presented by Pennsylvania's Armstrong Community Theater
• • When: Thursday
Saturday on February 19, 20, and 21, 2009 at 7:30 PM.
• • Info: 724-763-3680
• • Location: Armstrong Community Theater Group at Lenape Technical High School [2215 Chaplin Avenue, Ford City, PA 16226-1608]

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mae West: Plain Dealing

Critics continue to weigh in on MAE WEST.
• • Cleveland journalist Tricia Springstubb did a column for The Cleveland Plain Dealer. According to her, 'She Always Knew How' by Charlotte Chandler [Simon & Schuster, 317 pages, 2009] is a sexy, smart biography of Mae West, who ruled the screen and her own career.
• • Tricia Springstubb writes: The sofa is gilt, covered in eggshell satin, and the extended hand is baby soft, dripping with diamonds. But look out. Those diamonds are "old-cut" and sharp enough to scratch your palm. According to Mae West, that's the best kind, and what better authority than Diamond Lil herself?
• • "She Always Knew How," a biography from Charlotte Chandler, reads like an extended conversation with this witty, provocative, surprisingly sweet woman, and it's hard to imagine better entertainment than the musings of a "girl who climbed the ladder of success, wrong by wrong."
• • Born in Brooklyn in 1893 as Mary Jane West, the adored daughter of a beautiful corset model and a "bare knuckles fighter," she was never guilty of false modesty. Her father's offer to build her a dollhouse baffled her — — what she wanted, and got, was a toy stage. Baby May (she later changed it to Mae because it looked more cheerful) began her career at age 5 on the stage of Brooklyn's Royal Theater, where she took first prize in the amateur hour and never looked back.
• • Her formal education ended at third grade. "School kind of got in my way, you might say. . . . They told my mother, 'Mae's an average student.' Can you imagine?"
• • Her career was everything to her, and she insisted on complete control of it. She turned down an offer from the famous New York producer Florenz Ziegfeld because the theater where his "Follies" played wasn't intimate enough for her.
• • With titles like "Sex" and "The Wicked Age," her plays were never the darlings of critics or censors, ("Imagine censors that wouldn't let you sit in a man's lap! I've been in more laps than a napkin!"), but the public idolized her.
• • Throughout her career onstage and in film, she wrote her own lines, including that invitation to come up and see her sometime, and Diamond Lil's reply to the innocent coat-check girl who cries "Goodness!" at the sight of all those gems. "Goodness," Lil purrs, "had nothin' to do with it, dearie. "
• • In 1934, West was the highest paid female performer in the world. "Sex and work have been the only two things in my life, but if I ever had to choose . . . it was always my work." Yet the distance between the real West and her stage persona seems approximately the width of an emery board.
• • With the exception of her beloved mother, she preferred the company of men. "Women spend too much of their lives saying no."
• • West scripted parts for drag queens, championed black actors and musicians, and donated her used Cadillacs, still in pristine condition, to convents because "I just can't stand seeing a nun waiting for a bus."
• • She discovered George Raft and Carey [sic] Grant, and counted Elvis Presley and Marlene Dietrich among her confidantes. At the end of this book-length conversation, carried on with Chandler when West was in her 80s, the star leans forward with a confession.
• • "You know, my diamonds I told you all those men gave me? I wanted you to know — — I bought some of them myself." As she'd be first to point out, no one deserved them more.
— — Source: — —
• • Book Review by: Tricia Springstubb
• • Published in: The Cleveland Plain Dealer — — www.cleveland.com
• • Published on: 15 February 2009

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mae West: Gem Trader

"MAE WEST becomes a gem trader!"
• • That was the headline in The Washington Post on 17 February 1937.
• • With a guard nearby, reported the newspaper, the Paramount Pictures star Mae West has entered the field of gem trading — — and now sets aside one day a week to do deals. [They didn't call her "Diamond Lil" for nothing.]
• • Well, that's better than becoming a germ trader, eh?

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Mae West: St. Louis Woman

An intriguing article on the motion picture industry mentioned Paramount Pictures and MAE WEST.
• • No fan of today's "global popcorn" features, film critic Joe Williams had this to say:
• • It's no coincidence that when America entered the Great Depression, Hollywood entered its Golden Age. From 1929 until the end of World War II, the studios tailored their products for hard times.
• • The year of the stock market crash was also the first year that talkies outnumbered silent movies. Audiences came out in droves to experience sound — and a rarity called air conditioning.
• • In the 1930s, the studio system was at its peak of efficiency, producing prestige films featuring carefully groomed matinee idols as well as "B movies" and newsreels that kept audiences captive for hours.
• • The competing studios, which owned their own theater chains, each had different specialties. Industry leader MGM specialized in costume fare and glamorous musicals. Among its biggest stars were dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, whose characters wore evening attire and hobnobbed with the swells from Broadway to Brazil.
• • Paramount appealed to popular tastes with the comical Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields, heroic Gary Cooper, and the sexy Mae West.
• • Not all of the movies of the Depression era were escapist. Warner Bros. specialized in social realism. It was the studio for gangster films and hard-boiled dramas featuring independent women such as Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck. When the studio pushed too hard against moral conventions of the mid-1930s, there was a backlash from the Roman Catholic Church, which tamed American film for the next three decades.
• • Today's Hollywood is a far different place, run by corporations aiming for cross-platform penetration. Even in boom times, the new Hollywood specializes in "tentpole" spectaculars that translate easily overseas. . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Studios package global popcorn"
• • By: Joe Williams, POST-DISPATCH FILM CRITIC
• • Published in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch — — www.stltoday.com — — St. Louis, MO 63101
• • Published on: 15 February 2009
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Speaking of Saint Louis, Missouri, did you know that one Mae West movie was going to be called "Saint Louis Woman"?
• • Originally titled "It Ain't No Sin" until the censors prevailed, then "Saint Louis Woman" and "Belle of New Orleans" — — until complaints were registered from those two communities — — "Belle of the Nineties" [runtime: 73 minutes] was Mae West's first post-Production Code film.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mae West: Aida Overton Walker

MAE WEST opened for Aida Overton Walker at Hammerstein's in the summer of 1912.
• • A versatile sweetheart and a "triple threat" stage star who could sing, dance, and act, Aida also mastered the art of the choreographer as well.
• • Born in the Richmond, Virginia in the month of February — — on 14 February 1880 — — Aida Overton's family moved to New York City when she was young, and that is where she gained an education and considerable musical training.
• • Aida Overton Walker dazzled early-twentieth-century theater audiences with her original dance routines, her enchanting singing voice, and her penchant for elegant costumes. At 15 years old, she joined John Isham's Octoroons, one of the most influential black touring groups of the 1890s, and the following year she became a member of the Black Patti Troubadours. Although the show consisted of dozens of performers, Overton emerged as one of the most promising soubrettes of her day.
• • In 1898, she joined the company of the famous comedy team Bert Williams and George Walker, and appeared in all of their shows — — The Policy Players (1899), The Sons of Ham (1900), In Dahomey (1902), Abyssinia (1905), and Bandanna Land (1907).
• • Within about a year of their meeting, George Walker and Aida Overton wed on 22 June 1899. After the marriage, Aida Walker worked as a choreographer for Williams and Walker, her husband's vaudevillian comedy duo.
• • Since Bert Walker was one of Mae West's idols, and she attended many of his shows before meeting him in person [1903], it's safe to assume she saw these three stage stars performing together.
• • While George Walker supplied most of the ideas for the musical comedies and Bert Williams enjoyed fame as the "funniest man in America," Aida quickly became an indispensable member of the Williams and Walker Company. In The Sons of Ham, for example, her rendition of Hannah from Savannah won praise for combining superb vocal control with acting skill that together presented a positive, strong image of black womanhood. Indeed, onstage Aida refused to comply with the plantation image of black women as plump mammies, happy to serve; like her husband, she viewed the representation of refined African American types on the stage as important political work. A talented dancer, Aida improvised original routines that her husband eagerly introduced in the shows; when In Dahomey was moved to England, Aida proved to be one of the strongest attractions.
• • After a decade of nearly continuous success with the Williams and Walker Company, Aida's career took an unexpected turn when her husband collapsed on tour with Bandanna Land. Eventually, Aida began touring the vaudeville circuit as a solo act. Less than two weeks after George Walker's death in January 1911, Aida signed a two-year contract to appear as a co-star with S. H. Dudley in another all-black traveling show. She was celebrated for her part in the spectacular "Salome" at Oscar Hammerstein's Victoria Theater in New York City.
• • "Salome" and Aida and Mae in August 1912
• • After a 16-week tour of the Midwest, vaudevillian Aida Overton Walker returned to her homebase in The Big Apple in July of 1912. Impresario Oscar Hammerstein invited her to reprise her role as Salome at his roof garden theatre on Broadway and West 42nd Street in the first week of August. Houdini and Mae West were also on the stagebill along with Edgar Berger, Fields and Carroll, Dan the talking dog, and the usual "nut" acts.
• • Critic Robert Speare reported that Aida "is the only colored artist who has ever been known to give this dance in public." He praised her performance as "a graceful and interesting version of the dance."
• • Although still a relatively young woman in the early 1910s, Aida began to develop medical problems that limited her capacity for constant touring and stage performance. The talented thespian died suddenly of kidney failure on 11 October 1914 when she was only 34 years old. The New York Age featured a lengthy obituary on its front page. She was, in the words of the New York Age's Lester Walton, the exponent of "clean, refined artistic entertainment."

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mae West: The Observer

"Diamond Lil Still Sparkles," writes New York-based reviewer Sara Vilkomerson, referring to the latest biography of MAE WEST — — which she approaches most patiently, wearing velvet gloves and willing to overlook flaws.
• • • • She Always Knew How: Mae WestA Personal Biography
• • • • By Charlotte Chandler
• • • • Simon & Schuster, 317 pages
• • It’s hard to think of any of today’s shiny and carefully coddled stars who could hold their own when it comes to the utter cool that was Mae West. Seriously! Just try to imagine an Angelina or Scarlett or Reese trying to match the sultry vamp of the tiny and curvy blonde in films like I’m No Angel (1933), She Done Him Wrong (1933), and Go West Young Man (1936), let alone writing their own plays and scripts, and crafting quips like “When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad, I’m better.” Madonna — who has most definitely studied the Mae West playbook — has pushed the boundaries (and then some) throughout her career, but she never spent 10 days [sic] in jail on obscenity charges (as Ms. West did in 1927, after she wrote, performed, directed [sic], and produced the very popular Broadway play Sex).
• • Mae West set out to rule her world in her own inimitable way, defining all of her own terms. As Charlotte Chandler writes in her new biography, She Always Knew How, “when Mae began her career, doors were opened for women. When she finished her career, doors were open to women.”
• • Charlotte Chandler has written biographies of iconic celebrities before: Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Alfred Hitchcock. In She Always Knew How, she relies mainly on a series of interviews conducted months before the actress’ death, in 1980. From the opening pages, when West shows Ms. Chandler her extensive diamond collection, and immediately offers a few vehement opinions on makeup, spring water and enemas for soft skin, the voice of Mae West jumps off the page, sassy, bossy and clever. In fact, there are moments in the book when one might be forgiven for feeling one’s simply reading some forgotten transcript hidden away for decades in a musty attic.
• • (Ms. Chandler never gets around to explaining why she’s chosen to publish her book now, 29 years after the interviews took place.)
• • Because so much of She Always Knew How is Mae West talking about her favorite subject — herself — it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s the carefully constructed myth West created. (Ms. Chandler did talk to actors and friends who knew the star, but the meat of the book is Mae West herself.) There’s no doubt that Mae West had a brilliant and shrewd mind when it came to branding her own image: There was her private self, which only an inner circle of confidantes were allowed to see, and then there was Mae West, in her form-fitting Edith Head creations and 6-inch platform shoes (the secret to her deliberate walk), purring about how a hard man is good to find.
• • “Do you know what question I’m asked the most? About the mirrors on my bedroom ceiling. I say, ‘I like to see how I’m doin’.’ It’s the truth. It’s very exciting. You should try it,” West tells Charlotte Chandler during one of their conversations. “And the next question I’m most often asked is, am I always the Mae West everybody knows, or am I different when I’m alone? The answer is when I’m alone, I’m the same Mae West. But you’ll have to take my word for it, ’cause when I’m alone there isn’t anyone else here.’”
• • Ms. Chandler wisely organizes the book chronologically, and it’s through Mae West’s voice that we hear about her childhood in Brooklyn; the early marriage she didn’t admit to for many years; her Hollywood ascent; and the love she shared with Paul Novak, her constant companion for 27 years, who took faithful care of her at the end of her life. Along the way we get Mae’s sometimes true and sometimes wild assertions (that she discovered Cary Grant, that she saved Paramount Pictures from bankruptcy).
• • And if Charlotte Chandler neglects to provide supporting facts (or proof to the contrary), who cares? She Always Knew How succeeds in making the reader feel privy to a private conversation — a chance to overhear a singular voice that makes us wish a Mae West were around today.
• • Sara Vilkomerson is a reporter at The New York Observer.
— — Source: — —
• • Book Review by Sara Vilkomerson
• • Published in The New York Observer — — www.observer.com
• • Published on: 13 February 2009

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Mae West: Friday the 13th

Vincent Canby looked back on the career of MAE WEST in an article published in mid-February in The New York Times [Sunday 13 February 2000] and focused on her sexpot image in a film released in the USA on 15 March 1940.
• • Did you see "My Little Chickadee"?
• • Vincent Canby writes: When Mae went to Hollywood, her good humor and bold assumption of sexual authority, coupled with her raunchy aphorisms of Wildean balance, transformed her into one of the world's biggest box-office attractions. She was also the reason Hollywood overhauled the Production Code, the apparatus by which the industry censored its own material, in this way to combat the new licentiousness represented by little Mae.
• • Her first three movies, ''Night After Night'' (1932), ''She Done Him Wrong'' (1933), and ''I'm No Angel'' (1933), are stuffed with the grand doubles-entendres that she never tired of recycling for the rest of her life.
• • It's in ''I'm No Angel'' that she plays Tira, a tyro at lion taming who sticks her head into the big cat's mouth, prompting an admirer to say significantly, ''She's safer in that cage than she is in bed.'' This is the same movie in which she enunciated as her dictum about men: ''Find 'em, fool 'em, 'n forget 'em.'' Which, in 1933, was her variation on what men, especially the sort whom Mae admired most, were supposed to say about women.
• • Yet by the end of the 1930's, Mae West's movies were no longer sure-fire box-office hits. It wasn't only because the Production Code was sanitizing her material. Her range was limited and she was repeating herself. She might have gone on forever as the supporting character actress she was in ''Night After Night,'' but she couldn't resist playing the star. When she hogs the screen a certain monotony creeps into her work; it soon seems as if she is imitating herself.
• • A further problem was her age. Mae started late in Hollywood; she had her 40th birthday while shooting ''I'm No Angel.'' Her ample figure was less easily disguised in contemporary clothes than in the sort of gowns worn by Lillian Russell, but she couldn't confine her films to tales set in the Gay Nineties.
• • Mae West isn't forgotten today, but she is probably best remembered in oblique ways, in association with other things, like the busty life jackets that World War II servicemen nicknamed for her. She is still recalled by occasional impersonators, some of whom are more bizarre than others. Following the murder of Jon-Benet Ramsey, there was a news photograph of the child wearing the sort of feather boa and cartwheel hat that Mae sported in ''She Done Him Wrong.''
• • Mae's films still can be found in video rental shops, of course. Yet I suspect that the one rented most frequently is ''My Little Chickadee.'' This 1940 comedy-western about a hooker and a card shark is not, strictly speaking, a true Mae West movie, having been stolen by the nimble, white-gloved digits of W. C. Fields, her larcenous co-star.
• • Mae made three films after ''My Little Chickadee,'' but she might as well have retired then and there. W.C. Fields — — no gallant gentleman he (as Mae well knew) — — damaged her reputation in subtle ways that, for lethal effect, equaled the destruction wreaked on her pictures by the Production Code.
• • Fields didn't try to clean up her act; he did something far worse: he made Mae, the laid-back, self-mocking good-time girl of ''She Done Him Wrong'' and ''I'm No Angel,'' look not only humorless but mean and spiteful. Though Mae, playing Flower Belle, sets up the elaborate gag that transforms ''My Little Chickadee'' into one of the funniest movies ever made, the way the gag works out demolishes Mae's public persona.
• • To escape Cuthbert J. Twillie (Fields), who believes he has conjugal rights, Flower Belle puts a goat in the bed of their bridal suite, blows out the lamps and leaves the room in darkness. Twillie enters from the bathroom and climbs into bed, noting, after a decent pause, that Flower Belle seems to be sleeping in her caracul coat. ''Better take it off, dear,'' says Twillie with concern, ''you won't feel the good of it when you go out. . . .'' When the goat lets out a long ''m-a-a-a-a!,'' Twillie is sent into paroxysms of bliss. ''The sweet little dear,'' he says, ''is calling for her mama. Such blind innocence. . . .''
• • The sequence is priceless, but it also has the effect of making Mae West appear to be frosty and completely out of touch with her co-star, which she was. Mae was not a team player. But then she knew enough to realize that the character she always played, Superhooker, couldn't stand too much realism. When actual joy, passion or even humiliation are evident, the Superhooker appears ridiculous, like Miss Piggy in an otherwise conventional adaptation of ''Little Women.'' Mae took top billing in ''My Little Chickadee'' but she wound up sandbagged by Fields.
• • Chicago native Vincent Canby [27 July 1924 — 15 September 2000] was a longtime film critic.
— — excerpt — —
• • Article by Vincent Canby
• • Published in The New York Times
• • Published on: 13 February 2000
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mae West: Bill of Wrongs

Liz Smith mentioned MAE WEST the other day, though most people did not notice.
• • Liz Smith wrote: TURNER CLASSIC movies has picked Charlotte Chandler's new work on Mae West, titled "She Always Knew How," as their book of the month for March. Charlotte was the last person to interview Mae before she died in 1980, not long after her last film "Sexette." Mae told the young [sic] Charlotte: "Some women know how to get what they want. Others don't. I've always known how!"
• • At the time, Mae expressed pity for Charlotte because she saw the writer had no jewelry. And when Charlotte first appeared Mae said, "They always send a man. You would have had to wait for me twice as long if you'd been a man
— — because my makeup and hair take time." Charlotte says she only got the interview because director George Cukor insisted Mae see her. Mae West told Charlotte that "Someday there'll be a woman president... Ya know The Bill of Rights; well, what women need is a Bill of Wrongs!"
— — Source: — —
• • Byline: Liz Smith
• • Published in: Variety Magazine
• • Published on: Monday, 2 February 2009
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • According to Variety, their publication "is the premier source of entertainment news. Since 1905, the most influential leaders in the industry have turned to Variety for timely, credible and straightforward news and analysis — — information vital to their professions. ..."
• • Will someone please notify Variety (who has been writing about Mae West since her days in vaudeville back in 1912) that the staff still has her birthdate wrong? Enough time to have gotten it right, buster! Sheesh!

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mae West: Maxie Baer

MAE WEST always used to say, "You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough."
• • Pro boxer Maxie Baer was one of those handsome ring kings who enjoyed an intimate relationship with the Empress of Sex, and crammed a lifetime of thrills and trophies into his fifty years on earth.
• • Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, Maxie Baer was born in the month of February [11 February 1909
21 November 1959] and was a boxer whose career peaked during the 1930s as well as the one-time heavyweight champ, an actor, and an entertainer.
• • For exactly one year, Baer was Heavyweight Champion of the World
from 14 June 1934, when he knocked out the massive, 125-kg (275-pound) Primo Carnera until his reign ended when he fought James J. Braddock in a Long Island bout on 13 June 1935.
• • Maxie Baer's motion picture debut was in The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) opposite Myrna Loy and Walter Huston. In this MGM movie he played Steven "Steve" Morgan, a bartender that the Professor, played by Walter Huston, begins training for the ring. Steve wins a fight, then marries Belle Mercer, played by Loy. He starts seriously training, but it turns out he has a huge ego and an eye for a women. Featured were Baer's upcoming opponent, Primo Carnera, as himself, whom Steve challenges for the championship, and Jack Dempsey, as himself, former heavyweight champion, acting as the referee. The former title-holder made over a dozen motion pictures.
• • Maxie Baer married twice; his first wife was the actress Dorothy Dunbar [married July 8, 1931-divorced October 6, 1933]. Two years later, he tied the knot with Mary Ellen Sullivan [married on 29 June 1935 until his death in 1959]. With Sullivan, he had three children: actor Max Adelbert Baer Jr. (born 1937), James Manny Baer (born 1942), and Maudie Marian Baer (born 1944).
• • During a separation from his first wife, Max had hot affairs with movie queens Mae West, Jean Harlow, and Greta Garbo.
• • Maxie Baer never enjoyed the TV and movie success of his son, Max Baer Jr. (who played Jethro Bodine in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies). At the time of his death on November 21, 1959, Baer was scheduled to appear in some TV commercials
— — which he had planned to do in Los Angeles before returning to his home in Sacramento.
• • Since Max Baer, Sr. was unable to defend himself regarding Ron Howard's unflattering portrayal in Cinderella Man [2005], the task of rehabilitating his father's reputation has fallen to his son.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mae West: My Old Flame

It was on 9th February 1927 that MAE WEST was arrested in New York City. And coincidentally or not, Mae also had a lot of her screen and stage projects opening on the ninth day of February.
• • Keeping Mae in mind is the actor and vocalist Bill Krakauer [born in 1926], who will perform "Songs by Women of Tin Pan Alley" in Manhattan on two upcoming evenings.
• • The songs
— — either composed by females or performed by women — — will feature the famous Mae West number "My Old Flame" from the motion picture "Belle of the Nineties" [1934].
• • Other favorites will be "Starting at the Bottom," "Can This Be Love," and "Nobody Breaks My Heart" [1930] from "Fine and Dandy" by Kay Swift; "Baby's Birthday Party" [1930] by Ann Ronell; and "Moanin' Low" sung by Libby Holman and featured in "The Little Show" [1929]; and the stirring "Love Me or Leave me" made famous by Ruth Etting in "Whoopee" [1928]; and many more.
• • You can enjoy this salute to both famous and forgotten female songs, directed by Jonathan Cerullo, on Monday, 16 February and again on Monday, 2 March 2009 at 8:00 PM. The venue is The Cell Performance Salon, located in Chelsea at 338 West 23rd Street [between 8th and 9th Avenues], NYC 10011.
• • The Cell
— — operated by THE CELL THEATRE COMPANY — — is a new performance salon located in a former art gallery on West 23rd; it provides a space for artists from multiple disciplines to present their work.
• • For info about this show, phone 212-724-7933 — — and tell them you heard about all this whoopee from the Mae West Blog.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, February 09, 2009

Mae West: Biloxi Belle

When she performs in Biloxi this month, Tony-nominated Broadway actress-singer Emily Skinner will include new and traditional Broadway numbers — — and a special MAE WEST feature, “Come Up and See Me Sometime.”
• • As the venerable Biloxi Saenger is celebrating its 60th season, the organization is pulling out all the stops to make some whoopee.
• • Located on 416 Reynoir Street, Biloxi, MS 39530, the playhouse opened on 15 January 1929 and was touted as the Pearl of the Gulf South. Owned by Julian and A.D. Saenger of New Orleans [and designed by Roy A. Benjamin and built by Arthur Perry], there was seating for 1,245 ticket-holders who came to enjoy vaudeville, variety touring shows, and also "talking pictures" in this attractive building. The theater's acoustics were built so that, as one local paper reported, even a whisper on stage could be heard by all.
• • One evening before Valentine's Day, Emily Skinner will entertain at 7:30 PM on Friday the 13th at Community Concert’s “Broadway, My Way” show that has received rave reviews from The New York Times, The New York Post, USA Today, and other publications.
• • For info about this Broadway miss showing out in Mississippi, phone 1-228-435-6291 — — and tell them you heard about the mid-February shindig from the Mae West Blog.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Mae West: Paramount Importance

Watching MAE WEST in "I'm No Angel" — — and looking ahead to the rest of the titles in the screen series called "Breadlines and Champage" at Film Forum [NYC] — — steered many conversations towards the unfortunate economic desperation of Americans and speculations about whether or not Hollywood's hit machine can still tune us up.
• • Former history professor June Sochen was thinking similar thoughts and penned a Guest Commentary for the Naples News.
• • Speaking her mind, June Sochen writes: During the Great Depression, Hollywood flourished.
• • To be sure, 1930 and 1931 were bad years, with declining revenues at the movie studios. Paramount Pictures, for example, was on the verge of bankruptcy when it recruited a New York vaudevillian named Mae West to Hollywood. Although she alone was not responsible for the turnaround, Paramount’s fortunes improved dramatically once her quips and winks enchanted viewers across the country.
• • The movie studios absorbed the cost of transferring from silent film to sound technology and began an aggressive marketing campaign to lure people into the theaters. They offered free dishes on Thursday night (normally a slow night), lowered the ticket price (it was about 12 cents in the late 1930s), and gave viewers their money’s worth — — two full-length feature movies, an episode in a serial, and a summary of the news.
• • Despite high unemployment and uncertain times, Americans needed entertainment, particularly of the escapist variety. The big screen and the darkened theater allowed viewers to indulge their imaginations, enter other worlds, and laugh and cry with their favorite stars. As a result, about half of all Americans went to the movies every week.
• • The meaning of this statistic is profound: Americans shared their popular culture. They talked about their favorite movies with each other and they worried about the marital problems of their favorite stars. Young women particularly started fan clubs and wrote letters. . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: Guest Commentary: Popular culture during bad times
• • Byline: June Sochen, Naples, Florida [June Sochen is history professor emeritus at Northeastern Illinois University]
• • Published by: Naples News — — www.naplesnews.com
• • Published on: Saturday, 7 February 2009
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

• • Gregory Ratoff played Tira's New York City lawyer Benny Pinkowitz in "I'm No Angel" [1933]. How many remember this funny scene with Mae West and Ratoff discussing the breach-of-promise suit?
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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