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/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •