Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mae West: Rathbone's Wrath

MAE WEST was arrested on 9 February 1927 along with the cast of "Sex," the cast of "The Virgin Man," and the cast of "The Captive."
• • Snooty Basil Rathbone, who died during the month of July on 21 July 1967 in New York, NY was cuffed and brought downtown to Jefferson Market Police Court along with Helen Menken and their co-stars.
• • Born in South Africa on 13 June 1892, Basil Rathbone was one year older than Mae West but in his mind, he was worlds apart even though they were both starring on Broadway in 1927.
• • During the 1920s, most of Basil Rathbone's work was in the legitimate theater. For many of his Broadway roles he portrayed a suave, sophisticated seducer of susceptible women quite a change from the legendary ascetic Baker Street detective he would play later in his career.
• • Making a sensation at the Empire Theatre was a drama that had been highly regarded in Paris: "The Captive." Basil Rathbone was cast in the role of Jacques Virieu, a young man engaged to be married, only to discover that his fiancée [played by Helen Menken] is in love with someone else a woman. Since homosexuality was such a controversial topic during the Roaring Twenties, the entire cast was charged with offending public morals, and the play was closed right after the police raid.
• • Basil Rathbone was very angry about the censorship of his work, but even more aggrieved that show people would start whispering that he was arrested and booked with Mae West.
• • For years, Basil Rathbone and his wife made their home at 135 Central Park West. Mae lived in several westside locations, occasionally not far from Rathbone. But there is no record of their taking tea together to reminisce over their arrest on indecency charges in 1927.
• • The Empire Theatre • •
• • Built in 1893, the Empire Theatre had been situated at 1430 Broadway (between West 40th and West 41st) in Manhattan. An impressive playhouse, it seated about 1100. J.B. McElfatrick was the architect. Producer Charles Frohman had it built "uptown" at the suggestion of Al Hayman "Everything theatrical is moving uptown," he advised. Al Hayman took ownership after Frohman died on the Lusitania in 1915. In 1948, the Astor estate purchased the Empire Theatre and announced, in 1953, that it would be torn down to make way for an office tower. Waves of nostalgia spread through the theatre community, and performers gathered to celebrate the venue in a restrospective farewell performance. The bulldozers arrived in 1953 and an edifice was wrecked.
• • Brush up those zippy Mae West lines right on Broadway — — Sunday afternoon August 16th — — and forge a-Mae-zing memories.
• • Walking Tour: "Gaudy Girls on The Gay White Way: Mae West & Texas Guinan in the Theatre District"
• • When: 4:00 PM on Sunday — — 16 August 2008 — — rain or shine
• • Meet: Shubert Alley, 44th Street, West of Broadway, New York, NY 10036
• • Price: $10 [this walking tour lasts about 90 minutes]
• • Subway: N or R [BMT] train to West 42nd Street; 1 [IRT] train to Times Square
• • Attire: why not wear a Mae West-inspired hat?
• • Info: T. 212-614-9683 — — or post your RSVP or tour question here
• • Online: MaeWest.blogspot.com — — TexasGuinan.blogspot.com
• • Who: Playwright LindaAnn Loschiavo makes the tour educational and entertaining.
• • LindaAnn Loschiavo's history play "Courting Mae West" was onstage in July 2008 at the Fresh Fruit Festival. She is working on a biographical travel guide "Mae West's New York, 1899—1959" and will show some of her unusual theatre memorabilia and vintage photos during the tour and reveal secret addresses tied to Mae West that have not been disclosed before. These rare pictures show the area as it looked during the 1920s when Mae West and Texas Guinan had their name on several marquees.
• • Surprises: Prizes and other nice things are part of the fun
• • Members of the press may attend on August 16th as our guest. RSVP required.
• • • • Mae West Walking Tours You Might Have Enjoyed • • • •
• • 2006 TOUR: Our regular Mae-mavens will recall seeing the historical exhibition "Onstage Outlaws: Mae West and Texas Guinan in a Lawless Era,” which opened to the public after a Gala Roaring-20s theme Press Preview on Mae’s birthday 17 August 2006. And on Sunday afternoon 20 August 2006, more than two dozen beautiful people gathered on West Ninth Street to enjoy a special treat — — "Washington Square Women: Mae West and Texas Guinan in Greenwich Village" — — followed by a Jazz Era brunch served with champagne and the Cos-MAE-Politan cocktail, garnished with two strategically placed plump raspberries.
• • 2007 TOUR: On Friday evening 17 August 2007, a fascinating guided adventure — — "The Mae West Side Story" — — escorted numerous intrepid walk-abouts to three of Mae's former residences along with other sites linked to the Brooklyn bombshell.
• • 2008 TOUR: On Sunday afternoon 17 August 2008, the captivating Diamond Divas led a group of over two dozen Mae-mavens to several locations in Greenwich Village linked to her stage career, gay themes, courtroom woes, and the work of individuals she admired such as Lillian Russell, Tony Pastor, Texas Guinan, Eugene O'Neill, and Rae Bourbon. The 2008 walking tour — — "Mae West's Walk on the Wild Side" — — celebrated the 115th birthday of the Empress of Sex with an extravagant musical program, performed live by Met Opera soprano Marlena de la Mora and Sharon Weinman, which included these numbers: "Everything's Coming up Mae West"; "Mon Coeur S' Ouvre a Ta Voix"; "The Prisoner's Song"; "Frankie and Johnny"; "Come Down Ma Evening Star"; "I Could Have Danced All Night"; "Gentleman Jimmy"; and a grand finale taken from the score of "Diamond Lil."
• • Tour photos can be seen on the Mae West Blog.
• • For more details, do read this blog and/ or post your email. [Your info will not be posted nor available so that miscreants and rascals can access it.]

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West's fellow offenders • • Rathbone & Menken, 1927 • •
• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
Mae West.

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