Variety often scolded MAE WEST or found a witty way to sling unkind or unpleasant pronouncements in her direction.
• • During the month of June — — on 23 June 1922 — — Variety's critics briefly changed their tone, moving from glacial malice to a reverential nod.
• • That summer, New York's air was jagged with mosquitoes as shadows stretched across vaudeville, slowly going under, a bare bright emptiness in its future.
• • Shoring up her options, Mae had written "The Ruby Ring"  and "The Hussy"  and she also was preparing to appear in "The Ginger Box Revue," scheduled to open in August 1922 in Greenwich Village.
• • Simultaneously, Mae was writing a new stage act for herself and an accompanist, featuring fast-paced skits and songs. Faced with choosing a pianist, Mae had auditioned two unknowns, Brooklynite Jimmy Durante [10 February 1893 — 29 January 1980] and Harry Richman [10 August 1895 — 3 November 1972], and selected the taller, more dapper fellow. Stagebills soon offered her new show: "Bits of Musical Comedy — — Mae West assisted by Harry Richman."
• • After some good notices, Mae snagged a booking at the Palace.
• • She had structured her turns to include a short version of "The Ruby Ring," a bit in which she was costumed as a Roman empress/ temptress in need of a new gladiator, and a blues segment in which she delivered a gutsy "Frankie and Johnny."
• • Reviewers sat up straight for this one. "She rises to heights undreamed of for her and reveals unexpected depths as a delineator of character songs, a dramatic reader of ability, and a girl with a flair for farce that will some day land her on the legitimate Olympus" [Variety, 23 June 1922].
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
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