Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mae West: Ziegfeld

As a child, MAE WEST heard fascinating recollections about New York City's Chinatown and the Bowery. Aware of the attractiveness of these lively locales, authors found creative ways to situate their narratives in these neighborhoods.
• • Charles H. Hoyt, for instance, wrote the immensely popular musical comedy "A Trip to Chinatown." The story focuses on a widow who connives and contrives to bring romance to several couples and herself in a big city restaurant [think of "Hello, Dolly!"].
• • Still capitalizing on the "Trip to Chinatown" craze, clever showmen reworked the play again and presented it under a new title: "A Winsome Widow."
• • Nineteen-year-old brunette Mae West was featured in the show "A Winsome Widow" as La Petite Daffy in 1912.
• • The musical was presented at the Moulin Rouge, then located at 1514-16 Broadway [West 44th Street], New York, NY. This showplace was demolished in 1935.
• • This extravaganza was produced by Flo Ziegfeld, and during its latest revision the Eastside musical was relocated to the West Coast — — to San Francisco's Chinatown.
• • As La Petite Daffy, Mae West won acclaim for her vivacity and sauciness. "Mae West assaults the welkin vigorously," applauded the New York Dramatic Mirror from their tony perch on West 42nd Street right opposite the New York Public Library.
• • Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. • •
• • Born in Chicago, Illinois, Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. [1867 — 1932] was a Broadway impresario. He is best known for his series of theatrical revues, the Ziegfeld Follies [1907 — 1931], inspired by the Folies Bergères of Paris. Ziegfeld, who also built his own theatre on The Great White Way, earned a reputation as the "glorifier of the American girl."
• • At 65 years old, Flo Ziegfeld died in Hollywood, California during the month of July — — on 22 July 1932 — — from pleurisy related to a former lung infection.

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