Friday, July 03, 2009

Mae West: Rudy Vallee

MAE WEST was accompanied in 1930 by Rudy Vallée, whose birthday and death date fall during the month of July.
• • Born in Island Pond, Vermont, Rudy Vallée [28 July 1901
3 July 1986] was an actor as well as a singer, bandleader, and popular entertainer. His parents had ancestors who were of French Canadian origin and some who had emigrated from Ireland. [Similarly, Mae West's father's side was from Ireland and Canada and her maternal grandmother was French.]
• • Rudy Vallée grew up in Westbrook, Maine. In high school, he took up the saxophone. Supposedly, he acquired the nickname "Rudy" after a then famous saxophonist Rudy Wiedoeft.
• • In the spring of 1930, Texas Guinan, who was covering "The Pleasure Man" trial for a newspaper, invited Mae to perform at a fundraiser she was co-hosting at the Imperial Theatre [249 West 45th Street]. This playhouse had 1443 seats. Texas Guinan had tapped entertainers such as Helen Morgan, Ruth Etting, Charles Butterworth, Lily Damita, De Wolf Hopper, Paul Ash, and Harry Richman.
• • Jobless herself, Mae agreed to sing a few numbers to raise money at the "Give a Job Benefit" taking place on 12 April 1930.
• • Rudy
Vallée and his orchestra backed Mae as she sang "Frankie and Johnny" and a few other favorites on the wide proscenium stage of the Imperial. For awhile, Vallée's trademark was a raccoon coat and megaphone. Other co-hosts helping this worthy cause were Walter Winchell, Mark Hellinger, Jack Donahue, and the event's organizer Heywood Broun.
• • Rudy
Vallée died on 3 July 1986 at the age of 84 in Hollywood.
• • Harmony and stage stars still find their way to the Imperial. If you have seen the current crowd-pleasing musical at this West 45th venue, then you know this playhouse looks rather different now.
• • 2009 TOUR: On Sunday afternoon 16 August 2009, the Annual Mae West Walk, will briefly visit West 45th. This August the entertaining, informative birthday celebration of the actress-writer, which will begin at Shubert Alley and proceed uptown to Mae's WESTside apartment, is called "Gaudy Girls on The Gay White Way: Mae West and Texas Guinan in the Theatre District." These tours are always accompanied by vintage illustrations, memorabilia, and rare photos that show how the buildings, vaudeville houses, billboards, Playbills, and blockfronts looked when Mae West was there. Surprises are in store.
• • • • 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:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Imperial Theatre during the 1920s• •
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