Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mae West: Shoot-Out Central

When MAE WEST was writing her autobiography, she did not reveal much about her parents' carefully cultivated underworld connections.
• • In truth, both Matilda and Jack West had on-gong dealings with gangsters, fixers, con men, murderers, bootleggers, thugs, and ward heelers — — shady associates who could also be helpful in furthering "Baby Mae's" vaudeville career. In 1907, when Hal Clarendon accepted Mae into his Brooklyn stock company [incorporated by 15 April 1907 when Mae was 13 years old], it was because he "respected Mae's connections" to a handsome mobster who would be brutally gunned down by a crime boss five years later on West 43rd Street (just east of Broadway).
• • Did Mae West's recollections surf the names of racketeers and other rough spots when she and friends were taking tea on North Rossmore? Did the actress reveal how much of her Bowery drama "Diamond Lil" [filmed as "She Done Him Wrong"] was inspired by the jailbirds and career criminals her Dad clubbed around with?
• • The blue-eyed writer-actress was already comfortable with convicts when she moved into shoot-out central, the mob-controlled hotel on West 54th Street where she wrote the play in 1927. Persistent efforts to kill Legs Diamond were afoot when Mae was in residence, a few floors above Texas Guinan's speakeasy in the cellar.
• • On August 16th you can walk in the footsteps of two of the 1920s "gaudy gals" — — Texas Guinan and Mae West — — and win special prizes. Discover the shady secrets as well as the glamourous highlights shared by two energetic risk-takers who partied with gin, guns, gangsters, and sinners when they weren't busy onstage.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West's pal Texas Guinan • • December 1928 • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.

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