Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mae West: Warren William

In one motion picture Warren William played the meddlesome publicist of MAE WEST.
• • Born in December 1894 in Minnesota as Warren William Krech, the aspiring thesp attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and, like Mae, he appeared in several plays on Broadway during the 1920s. He was even seen opposite the engaging "Perils of Pauline" star Pearl White in her last serial photoplay, "Plunder" [1923].
• • "The Perils of Mavis Arden" or rather "Go West, Young Man" was a contemporary comedy based on a long-running Broadway hit "Personal Appearance," which starred Gladys George.
• • Paramount Pictures released this misfit on 18 November 1936.
• • Every so often comes a time when the normal rules of life are suspended, when some sort of force brings deprivation, distress, suffering — — or extreme inconvenience. For Americans, it was the dangerous economic swordplay of the Depression when industrial production was halved, disposable incomes greatly declined, stock prices plunged to one-tenth their skyscraping pre-Crash height, and the unemployed rolls swelled to more than ten million.
• • For the screen queen Mavis Arden, normality went on the rocks while being stranded at a remote rural boarding house while on her personal appearance tour to publicize the film "Drifting Lady." All dressed up and stuck in the boondocks!
• • Comedies find fun in contrasts — — a tall, dark, youthful Cary Grant paired with a sexually savvy mature siren, for instance, in "She Done Him Wrong." Marshaling his willpower and armed with his patrician looks and polish, the tall, dark, and scheming Morgan is a press agent who feels well-equipped to prevent a temperamental movie star from marrying while under studio contract. Morgan also stage manages behind the scenes to keep the man-hungry Mavis single and unavailable to men (not unlike Mae's real-life manager Jim Timony and stage mother Matilda West).
• • Often cast as an amoral, aggressive, heartbreaking rogue without a conscience, when the cameras weren't rolling the six-foot-one gentleman was a shy, retiring type who remained married to the same woman and worked on patented inventions in his spare time. Speaking of him, five-time Warner Brothers co-star Joan Blondell told an interviewer that Warren William "was an old man even when he was a young man."
• • His busy career, aided by his deep, mellifluous, muscular speaking voice, was cut short by cancer of the bone marrow (multiple myeloma). Warren William died in Hollywood during the month of September — — on 24 September 1948 at age 53.

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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1936 • •
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