Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mae West: Merry May

It was in May 1927 that MAE WEST returned to the Women's Workhouse on Welfare [currently renamed Roosevelt] Island.
• • This time, however, she was the invited guest of a group of society women who were bent on social reform, and who wanted to inspect the prison and inmates for themselves. The actress gaily led the tour, trailing a string of newsmen and photographers.
• • Mae was even delighted to show these Park Avenue females the paddy wagon that she had ridden in after her arrest on 9 February 1927. In the photos, the women are all smiling but what must they have been thinking?
• • One of Mae's duties in the workhouse was to clean the jail's library. It struck her that there were so few books to read here. When a magazine offered Mae $1,000 to write an article about her experiences as an inmate, the Broadway star donated her check to the women's workhouse to fund the "Mae West Memorial Library."
• • Newsmen chided Warden Harry O. Schleth for granting Mae some privileges and pandering to a celebrity by taking her for evening drives, letting her dine with him in his private quarters, and so on. But how many of those journalists remembered back to October 1913? That was the night when Warden Schleth's 34-year-old wife shot their 4-year-old son and then committed suicide because she could not bear to live inside a bleak New York City prison any longer. Very likely Mae West lifted the warden's spirits more than he cheered her up.
• • Note: The yellowed page you are looking at was part of an article Mae wrote, published in 1927.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1927 • •
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Mae West.

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