Monday, May 25, 2009

Mae West: Steve Cochran

Steve Cochran appeared on Broadway with MAE WEST.
• • Born in Eureka, California in the month of May — — on 25 May 1917 — — he moved during the 1920s to Laramie, Wyoming thanks to his lumberjack father. Perhaps used to a lonely landscape where he often saw things tumbling down and falling, his spirit may have yearned to be hemmed in by a fixed construction such as an auditorium. In any case, upon his 1939 commencement from the University of Wyoming, Cochran began working in regional theatre and summer stock. After honing his craft at the Barter Theatre and the Carmel (California) Shakespeare Festival, he worked at Detroit's Federal Theatre, and was co-starred in the touring companies of "Without Love" and "My Sister Eileen" before his Broadway debut in the eight-performance flop "Hickory Stick."
• • During the war, Cochran [physically unfit for combat] directed Army camp shows.
• • In 1945, the Samuel Goldwyn Company had Cochran under contract. His film debut was the Danny Kaye vehicle "Wonder Man" [1945], produced by Goldwyn and released by RKO. For Goldwyn's projects, the handsome six-footer was cast in supporting roles — — often portraying a boxer or a gangster.
• • Steve Cochran said: "The big secret in playing a criminal in movies is to really believe that the character you are playing is doing no wrong."
• • Upon being released from his contract with Goldwyn in 1948, Cochran went back to The Gay White Way. Mae West cast him in the shady, hot-blooded role of Juarez in her "Diamond Lil" revival from February 5—26, 1949 at the Coronet Theatre
on West 49th Street.
• • Then 36, the thrice married lady-killer is reputed to have had a heavy breathing "after-hours" relationship with his 50-something diamond-draped leading lady. [Leading ladies Cochran led to bed included Jayne Mansfield and Merle Oberon.]
• • After performing with Mae West, Cochran signed with Warner Bros. in 1949 and returned to Hollywood.
• • In 1965 Steve Cochran sailed off to Guatemala on his yacht to look for exotic filming locations. The 48-year-old perished onboard of a lung infection during the month of June.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • co-star Steve Cochran • •
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