Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mae West: Byron Hot Springs

During the 1930s, MAE WEST took a breather from movie-making and relaxed at a luxurious West Coast oasis — — an elite enclave shaded by mature oleanders and Egyptian palms, fastidious landscaping that gave the 1912 Byron Hot Springs Hotel a lush tropical ambience.
• • According to California historians, during the early twentieth century, San Francisco power brokers, Hollywood stars, and sports figures flocked to this resort paradise to indulge in recreation and the healthful mineralized springs. They relaxed on the lawn or stretched out on shaded verandas. Available to guests like Mae were golf, tennis, croquet, baseball, shuffleboard, and billiards.
• • This extraordinary 160-acre property, a few miles east of San Francisco, featured (at various times) three grand hotels, a Queen-Anne cottage called the Mead Mansion, a hospital, and several guest cottages. Visitors restored their health and well being through hydropathic “cures,” mud baths, restorative spring waters, swims and strolls through the exotic gardens. The resort was called the “Carlsbad of the West” after the famed European health spa.
• • Though now dilapidated, closed to the public, and under renovation, this once exotic hide-away in Contra Costa County, California has a curious history that has kept a small group of devotees paying attention to the property. During World War II, this spa was sold to the military and transformed into a top-secret prisoner interrogation center called Camp Tracy.
• • Army Major Alex Corbin — — author of the book “The History of Camp Tracy: Japanese WWII POWs and the Future of Interrogation” — — recently took a small tour group through there. He discussed the former resort, whose natural sulfur springs and mud baths had appealed to high-earning Hollywoodites such as Mae West, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, and other stars during the 1930s, and how the acreage was put to a more clandestine use during the 1940s, which is to say gently wresting military secrets from Japanese seamen and soldiers in an operation so under-cover that its existence had been completely unknown to outsiders until a few years ago.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mae West: Possession

What if you were fortunate enough to own a keepsake that had belonged to MAE WEST? Would you sell it? Could you prove it legitimately did come from Mae's household? Listen in.
• • • • QUESTION: I have an unusual, 2-foot-tall ashtray in excellent shape that once belonged to actress Mae West. I got it at an auction in the 1970s for $350. I am retiring soon and want to sell it, but I have no idea of its current value. Can you help me? — — T.B., San Jose
• • • • ANSWER by Steven Wayne Yvaska
• • The saucy Mae West (1893
1980), remembered for her quips, once said, "He who hesitates is last." [sic] In this case, it was smart of you to wait and ask for advice before selling off your unusual treasure.
• • I shared photos of your Art Deco-style ashtray
— stainless steel with two black spheres — with appraiser Stephen G. Turner, a decorative arts and fine arts consultant for Bonhams & Butterfields, the notable San Francisco auction gallery.
• • He brought up a key point that helps establish the value of objects such as yours: the provenance, or history of ownership.
• • "Anything that can be proven to have been owned and used by a 'celebrity,' whether an actress or the president of the United States, exceeds its lowest common denominator," Turner said.
• • He told me Mae West's estate was sold in Los Angeles in 2000 by what was then called Butterfields.
• • If you obtained your ashtray at this show, a sales catalog and, perhaps, the sales receipt would be sufficient proof showing the item was owned by the fabled star.
• • If you cannot prove provenance, your ashtray is nothing more than an interesting artifact. And it may not even be worth what you paid.
• • If, however, you can identify the item as one that belonged to West, Turner says it could be worth from $800 to $1,200. ...
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: Seasoned collector: What's it worth? A roundup of appraisals by Steven Wayne Yvaska
• • BY: Steven Wayne Yvaska | Correspondent
• • Published by: mercurynews.com
• • Published on: 29 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Mae West: Steel Swan

Most often linked to Brooklyn, MAE WEST moved to Queens (an area still known as "Long Island" then) sometime after 1917 — — when her family secured a modest dwelling in suburban blue-collar Woodhaven, New York. In 1920, when the census-takers interviewed the household, John West, 53, was engaged as a masseuse, teenage John was clerking at a newspaper, 21-year-old Beverly (though married to Sergei since 1917) was still living with her parents and jobless, and 26-year-old Mae was touring steadily in vaudeville.
• • Blackwell's Island Bridge • •
• • The 59th Street Bridge had opened to the public on 30 March 1909, having cost about $18 million and dozens of lives. A ceremonial grand opening was held in June 1909. It was then known as the Blackwell's Island Bridge. The double cantilevered span, also called the Queensboro Bridge, crosses the East River, connecting Long Island City with Manhattan, passing over the once bustling Women's Workhouse on this curious spit of land that had also housed a hospital and a lunatic asylum.
• • Thanks to this graceful steel swan, Long Island acreage that had been farmland, cemeteries, and swamps became growing neighborhoods accessible by the streetcar, trolley, bicycle, railways, and the automobile.
• • As a working actress, Mae West crossed this bridge dozens of times as she returned to the parental abode after a performance. Encouraged by her mother, during March 1921 Mae mailed her slim playscript "The Ruby Ring" to the Library of Congress. At 20 pages, this manuscript was more of an extended "sketch" than a play. Gloria, the female lead, is a man-trap who is able to pick the gents off with ease.
• • Her family was still living there in 1922 when 29-year-old Mae added a full-length play — — "The Hussy" — — to these Washington, DC archives. Nona, the female lead, likes generous fellows who demonstrate their devotion to a gal by dropping jewelry on her.
• • But a different path in late January 1927 would lead to events that took the ambitious trouper across the span with other inmates to the Women's Workhouse.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Roosevelt Island — — At one point in time, New York City exported most of its problems to Roosevelt Island, now a cozy off-shore town, explains Amanda Cormier. The small strip of land in the East River — — known first as Blackwell’s Island, then Welfare Island in 1921, and Roosevelt Island in 1973 — — housed some of the city’s most famous “undesirables” in its penitentiary: Boss Tweed, Mae West, and Billie Holiday, who served a four-month term for prostitution charges.
• • “The river became the place where they put all sorts of public institutions,” says Edwin Burrows, professor of history at Brooklyn College, holder of a doctorate from Columbia, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898.” He adds, “It wasn’t until the early 1940s and 1950s that it became prime real estate.” ....
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Reconstructing History — — professors speak on New York’s forgotten buildings and blocks
• • BY: Amanda Cormier | Columnist
• • Published by The Eye | The Columbia Daily Spectator — — eye.columbiaspectator.com
• • Published on: 28 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mae West: Posterity vs Variety

The vast encumbrance of sourpuss spite directed at MAE WEST by Variety has been weighed by a number of biographers — — but not measured, inch by column inch. If it were, that unrelenting ferocity might be approximately the length that lightwaves travel through the universe of middle-aged actresses.
• • Variety was in the minority. Thousands of ticket-holders applauded on 27 January 1933, and Paramount Pictures executives scissored the California day's blue slips into dance, their accountant's pencil's lead a single thought to push toward glimmer, thanks to Mae's idle curves spilling suggestively toward Cary Grant, an odalisque stretching out in a Bowery saloon during a dry year [Prohibition, after all] that made the sight of nickel beer on tap at Gus Jordan's toast the kind of conflict desire can create.
• • Posterity has the laurels all over "She Done Him Wrong," always among the top-rated motion picture classics.
• • The movie became a box office blockbuster, despite the snot-nosed Variety review that razzed the 39-year-old comedienne, saying she was being rushed to stardom, deeming that “this premature shove to the foreground could retard her progress.” With predictions like those, Variety, better avoid the betting tables and be careful around unreadable stars.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mae West: Erotic Turbulence

MAE WEST was part of the "golden age of turbulence" in Hollywood history, explains a British film fanatic. A few morsels from his juicy column appear below.
• • Geoffrey Macnab writes: Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s was a wildly contradictory place — — and its stars reflected this.
• • Geoffrey Macnab continues: On the one hand, in the early 1930s, the “golden age of turbulence” — — Mae West, Jean Harlow, James Cagney, and the Marx brothers were transgressive and risqué. This was the Depression era, and the sense of reckless desperation could be felt in musicals, gangster films and screwball comedies alike.
• • Geoffrey Macnab adds: But it was also the period in which Hollywood’s tendency toward self-censorship became evident. The so-called Hays Code had existed since the late 1920s, but its enforcement now became stricter. ...
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "100 years of movie: The golden years — — In the dark decades of the 1930s and 1940s, the stars of the big screen shone more brightly than ever"
• • BY: Geoffrey Macnab, Film Columnist
• • Published by: The Independent [UK] — — www.independent.co.uk
• • Published on: 26 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mae West: Bridge Work

In one motion picture, MAE WEST played a shady lady who was trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to a foreigner. It was during the month of January — — exactly 140 years ago — — that the complex construction began [on 3 January 1870]. Completed over a dozen years later, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge was opened for use on 24 May 1883.
• • Bridging that thought (in case you did not know), well north of New York City, the Sarnia Road Bridge, situated on Sarnia Road in Middlesex County, Ontario [London] — — described as a "beautiful pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge" — — was built in the late 1890s from St. James, Manitoba and relocated to its current location in 1909. Experts have said that pin connected truss bridges are in very short supply in southwestern Ontario.
• • Canadian freelancer George Clark was thinking of Mae and bridge work recently. Clark writes: It was back in 1937 when Mae West starred in the comedy "Every Day's a Holiday" [released on 18 December 1937] in which a female hustler Peaches O'Day sold the Brooklyn Bridge for $200.
• • What eventually came to stand for a universal joke on gullibility was based on fact. The New York Times reported that several turn-of-the century (20th century) con artists sold the Brooklyn Bridge many times over for prices ranging from $200 to $1,000. Jay Robert Nash's book, Hustlers and Con Men, stated some con artists would wait until police were not in sight, quickly put up a "Bridge for sale" sign and manage some quick transactions.
• • Now London may be getting its own chance to get in on the game, but legally.
• • City council this week endorsed a report of its environment and transportation committee that the Sarnia Rd. bridge in northwest London be treated as a heritage structure, but not actually designated as one. Council was told this would allow for possible heritage funding without imposing any heritage restrictions on what can be done with the structure.
• • City hall's growth management implementation study calls for the Sarnia Road Bridge, a favourite choke point for traffic using the road during rush hour, to be replaced in 2011 . . . .
• • Peaches O'Day would probably have had no problem selling the bridge many times over. It remains to be seen what London can do.
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Psst! Anybody want to buy a bridge? Make your best offer"
• • BY: By George Clark, Special to QMI Agency
• • Published online by ifpress.com
• • Published on 22 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Mae West: West End Debut

It was truly a WEST END date on the 25th day of January 1948 when MAE WEST opened the United Kingdom tour of "Diamond Lil" at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London town. The broad from Brooklyn had never been abroad before.
• • "Who else can manage to 'shimmy' sitting down?" wrote one British drama critic in wonderment.
• • The production was directed by William Mollison.
• • In the London cast were Richard Bailey as Captain Cummings; David Davies as Gus Jordan; Hal Gould as Chick Clark; Noele Gordon as Rita; Bruno Barnabe as Juarez, etc.
• • The Prince of Wales Theatre is a legitimate playhouse located at 31 Coventry St., London, England, W1D 6AS near Leicester Square in the City of Westminster. It was established in 1884 and rebuilt in 1937 — — and extensively refurbished in 2004 by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, its current owner.
• • In 1948, Mae West's "
Diamond Lil" was a box-office smash there.
• • In 1949, "
Harvey" — — Mary Coyle Chase's comedy about an imaginary rabbit — — was a hopping success.
• • In the 1950s, the theatre hosted variety and revues, starring such famous performers as Norman Wisdom, Peter Sellers, Bob Hope, Gracie Fields, Benny Hill, Hughie Green, Frankie Howerd, and Morecambe and Wise.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mae West: Brit Chick at BFI

MAE WEST probably would not number "My Little Chickadee" among her favorite motion pictures. Many fans will disagree. In Great Britain, this durable comedy, directed by Edward Cline, will be screened next week at BFI Southbank in London, England.
• • British columnist Peter Bradshaw's delight in this vintage screen gem pulses through his brief review.
• • Peter Bradshaw writes: It has to be the King-Kong-meets-Godzilla event of classic screen comedy: WC Fields teams up with, and indeed ties the marital knot with, Mae West in this ridiculous, and ridiculously funny, 1940 comedy, a preposterous tale from the old west, presented next week as part of the Fields season at London's BFI Southbank.
• • The man himself plays Cuthbert J Twillie, a travelling salesman fond of a drink and the occasional sporting wager, whose business-card announces that he is in the business of "Novelties & Notions." West is Flower Belle Lee, a woman who has scandalised the local community with her romantic adventures. Her chief accuser is a Mrs Gideon, a sour-faced spoilsport played by Margaret Hamilton, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.
• • Flower Belle responds to these calumnies with a defiant hip-wiggle, but nonetheless submits to the general demands that she makes amends by getting married. She weds Cuthbert, whose fraudulent claims of bravery have fluked him into the unlikely job of sheriff in a neighbouring town, but finds Flower Belle intent on withholding his conjugal rights.
• • The script, co-written by the stars, has an outrageous one-liner in every line, and there is a weird yin-yang rightness in the Fields/West pairing. My favourite bit is when Fields is playing poker with his friend, a Native American, who reaches for a bow-and-arrow in a testy moment and gets a whiskey bottle smashed unceremoniously over his head. When Fields is about to be hanged over a misunderstanding, and is asked if he has any last requests, he says: "I'd like to see Paris before I die. Philadelphia will do."
• • Mae West's cool, swaggering delivery is somehow funny all the time — — coupled with that odd, occasional pout which resembles, and may in fact be, a suppressed yawn. A treat.
— — Source: — —
• • Article: "WC Fields teams up with Mae West in this ridiculous, and ridiculously funny, 1940 comedy"
• • BY: Peter Bradshaw | Columnist
• • Published by The Guardian — — guardian.co.uk
• • Published on: 22 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mae West: Dandy Randy

A handsome hunk who co-starred with MAE WEST in "Go West Young Man" celebrated his birthday on this date.
• • Born in Virginia, Randolph Scott [23 January 1898 — 2 March 1987] was a motion picture actor whose career spanned from 1928 to 1962. He played the part of meek and mild Bud Norton in the Paramount Pictures release "Go West Young Man" [1936] when he was 38 years old.
• • A handsome leading man in comedies, dramas, and an occasional adventure role, Scott finally did "Go WEST" and became a screen cowboy. And when he began focusing on westerns in the late 1940s, Randolph Scott reached his greatest stardom. His screen persona altered into that of a stoic, craggy, and uncompromising figure — — a tough, hard-bitten man seemingly unconnected to the light comedy romantic lead he had been during the 1930s.
• • The cast of "Go West Young Man" included:
• • Mae West — — Mavis Arden
• • Warren William — — Morgan
• • Randolph Scott — — Bud Norton
• • Alice Brady — — Mrs. Struthers
• • Elizabeth Patterson — — Aunt Kate Barnaby
• • Lyle Talbot — — Francis X. Harrigan
• • Randolph Scott died in Beverly Hills at age 89 on 2 March 1987.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Mae West: Backstage Brush

A columnist whose "brush with fame" included brushing MAE WEST backstage during the run of "Diamond Lil" during the 1940s dusted off these pleasant recollections, often arranged due to his sister Anna, an actress, who had been cast in Mae's Broadway show and others.
• • According to Alex Berger: My sister, Anna, an actress, continued my array of brushes with greatnesses. She prepared for her acting career by attending the prestigious Dramatic Workshop with Tony Curtis, Rod Steiger, Bea Arthur, and Harry Belafonte. They were not celebrities at the time. ...
• • • • What a heavy burden is a name that has become famous too soon. — Voltaire
• • Alex Berger explains: Before Belafonte’s rise to fame as a calypso singer, he was unemployed. With no means to support his wife and child, he asked Anna to help him find work and my brother, Jack, hired him. Soon thereafter, Harry invited Jack, Anna, and me to his first nightclub appearance at the Royal Roost nightclub. I was only 16, but they sneaked me in and I brushed headliner Dinah Washington. It was not long before Harry was on his way. ...
• • Alex Berger recalls meeting Mae West: Anna would always invite me backstage following her theater and TV performances. I brushed John Garfield, Fredrick March, Jack Lemmon, Jerry Stiller, Rita Moreno, and James Gandolfini, among others. I will never forget when I visited Anna following her first Broadway show, Mae West’s “Diamond Lil.” I was in the Air Force at the time and, in full uniform, I brushed Miss West — — and she returned the compliment!...
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Berger's Burg: Columnist becomes famous for brushing celebrity elbows"
• • BY: Alex Berger | Columnist
• • Published by Your Nabe — — and also timesledgernews
• • Published on: 21 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mae West: Cougar Unleashed

MAE WEST's name always pops up in those articles about cougars — — a squinty-eyed noun not unlike that vulgar four-letter disparagement that begins with C. Are adults so fearful of socially voracious females that they must be classified as predators? Since when is intense female vitality a threat to young males, or serious enough to be labeled and branded?
• • Hadley Freeman, an intrepid Guardian columnist and features writer, has taken a different approach to cougar-hood. Her sly examination of this May-December chemistry clarifies that she does not consider an older woman as one more example of cosmic gall. A snippet of her amusing insight follows.
• • Hadley Freeman writes: Cynics may point out that, despite the tabloids' unabated horror, powerful female celebrities with nubile younger men is not exactly new, with examples such as Mae West and Joan Collins (who surely earned the universe's eternal adoration when, asked whether she was concerned about her and husband Percy's 32-year age difference, replied, "If he dies, he dies") coming easily to mind. For every Samantha Jones, there's a Blanche Devereaux making double entendres in the background.
• • Hadley Freeman continues: But these cynics are missing the point, because few things retain the ability to shock like the idea that a woman doesn't necessarily float off on an iceberg of chastity after her 35th birthday. And if the horrifying spectre of young male flesh brushing up against older female skin wasn't sufficient warning, here's Iris Robinson, now being treated for clinical depression, after her affair with a teenager was exposed, although it's hard to say what has horrified people more: her alleged financial improprieties in raising money for her lover's business or that the gentleman concerned was 19. Six of one, half-dozen of the other, really. (Incidentally, my favourite cougarish tale comes from Peter Biskind's biography of Warren Beatty, in which Beatty took a more mature Lillian Hellman out to dinner. Most ladies worry about getting food stuck in their teeth on a date; Hellman went one further by dropping her teeth into her spaghetti. Nonetheless, Beatty was apparently quite taken. Who needs Oil of Olay when Beatty's around?) . . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "What's with all this talk of 'cougars'? Why are women being labelled like animals in the zoo for dating younger men?"
• • BY: Hadley Freeman | Columnist
• • Published by The Guardian [UK] | www.guardian.co.uk
• • Published on: 20 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mae West: Plymouth Rocks

An upcoming Midwest excursion that will dazzle tour-goers with the diamond sparklers once owned by MAE WEST brings to mind the bejeweled star of "Diamond Lil" as she sat in her dressing room on 20 January1950. This was the night before the closing performance when Broadway's box office queen would be returning her gems to Harry Winston for the last time and taking the show on the road again. Imagine her thoughts as she removed those expensive bracelets, brooches, rings, and necklaces, and handed them over to the jeweler's armed courier (the nightly ritual for these borrowed baubles).
• • The "Diamond Lil" revival enjoyed great success at the venerable Plymouth Theatre [236 West 45th Street]. It opened there on 7 September 1949 — — and had four months of performances on Broadway. Specifically, this return engagement enjoyed a 182-performance run.
• • In his admiring review of her 1949 reinvigorated Bowery queen romp through her popular "naughty nineties" hit, The New York Times drama critic Brooks Atkinson admitted he was moved to acknowledge what he called — — in an atypically poetic effusion — — ''the sublime fatalism of the entire business,'' and he went on to ask: ''Is she kidding or is she serious?''
• • Knowing Mae, the likely answer is both.
• • Built in 1917, the Plymouth Theatre [236 West 45th Street], which seats 1093, was renamed the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in 2005.
• • Nothing stays the same in New York City — — and yet the affection for the Brooklyn bombshell endures.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mae West: 19 January 1889

MAE WEST had a curious example of matrimony before her eyes — — the uneasy union of Champagne Till and Battling Jack — — and it perhaps led her to comment: "Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution."
• • Initially, the young lovers forged a passionate bond. Mae explained, "My father had swept her off her feet." But Tillie's youthful transgressions and singular ambitions met an end with Jack West.
• • On 19 January 1889, in Greenpoint, Battling Jack West and Tillie Delker took their wedding vows before a local minister with Jack's sister Julia West acting as maid of honor.
• • On this date we remember the nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. John Patrick West, which blossomed and flowered in 1893 in the form of Baby Mae.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Mae West: January Gents

When MAE WEST pulled Cary Grant into her motion picture comedy "She Done Him Wrong" [1932], she put wings on his feet. And Happy Birthday to one of Hollywood's hottest leading men, born eleven years after Mae — — on 18 January 1904.
• • But years before Paramount would offer her a contract, the struggling comedienne was featured at the Central Theatre [Broadway & West 47th Street] on 25 December 1920. The pretty brunette had no idea that the goddess of career networking found a sweet gentleman Jim willing to help her ascend the vaudeville ladder.
• • Irish-American comedian Jimmy Hussey [1891 — 1930] was the star attraction that Christmas Day. Also performing were Phil Baker and Aileen Stanley — — but Mae West must have pulled focus and attracted Hussey's attention.
• • Born in Chicago on 18 January 1891, James J. Hussey made his stage debut (accidentally) when he attended a performance in The Windy City and started singing choruses from the balcony. Instead of getting thrown out, he won a contract and started appearing on the Shubert vaudeville circuit.
• • Clearly, Mae left the right impression on Christmas Day 1920. Several months later, Hussey finished writing the book and the lyrics for the revue that would be renamed "The Mimic World 1921." He made sure his new material was custom-tailored to Mae's unique talents. She was cast in many prominent skits in this production — — including the con artist "Shifty Liz."
• • Clearly with Mae's approval and cooperation, Hussey penned the skit "The Trial of Shimmy Mae." Hussey himself played the judge as Mae demonstrated the shimmy in his topsy-turvy courtroom.
• • For the skit "The Bridal Suite," Jimmy Hussey took the role of a busy newly-wed who has to leave his honeymoon for a business meeting. In his absence, the pretty bride entertains her lovers, making her own appointments. "The Bridal Suite" was scrapped from the revue when it had a Boston try-out. The censors also cut the lights when Shimmy Mae started to dance.
• • "The Mimic World 1921" opened on 17 August 1921 and Hussey's close friend, Jack Dempsey (another Irish-American) attended the premiere, and visited Mae backstage after the show.
• • Jimmy Hussey, who was a brilliant success onstage (oddly enough) as a Jewish dialect comedian, died at age 39 of pneumonia on 20 November 1930. Mae West attended his memorial service, which was held at St. Malachy's on West 49th Street, a ceremony that also commemorated the recent deaths of two other Roman Catholic colleagues of hers, Tommy Gray and Tony Pastor.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mae West: Evelyn Nesbit

MAE WEST has a tie to several individuals linked to January 17th. One is the infamous show girl Mae once opened for.
• • Evelyn Nesbit Thaw [25 December 1884 — 17 January 1967] was an American artists' model and chorus girl, noted for her entanglement in the murder of her ex-lover, architect Stanford White, by her first husband: Harry Kendall Thaw.
• • No doubt Mae, an aspiring entertainer, would never forget her booking on 4 August 1913 — — when Hammerstein had scheduled the vivacious teenager to perform at his vaudeville playhouse situated in Longacre [later Times] Square. The location was popularly known by New Yorkers as "the corner."
• • On this sultry August evening, Mae West was there to open for a world-famous star: Evelyn Nesbit [1884 — 1967]. Despite a low-cut gown and provocative songs, Mae failed to fire up the audience.
• • The critic from The New York Tribune [whose coverage ran on 5 August 1912] commented that even Mae's low neckline and raunchy bumps and grinds were not enough to sway the hoi polloi.
• • In 1899, Oscar Hammerstein built his fifth showplace — — the Victoria Theatre — — at the corner of West 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue. Stars like MAE WEST, Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Ethel Barrymore, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Buster Keaton, Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, and Eva Tanguay were among the thousands of performers who made Hammerstein's Victoria the vaudeville "nut house" of Times Square.
• • Evelyn Nesbit was a technical adviser on the Hollywood bio-picture "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" [1955]. At the age of 82, Evelyn Nesbit died in a nursing home in Santa Monica, California.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mae West: Making It Longer

MAE WEST is so well-quoted that you can find her witticisms stacked up in Bartlett's, spicing up current newspaper columns, and even decorating a colorful collection of European scarves. The funny thing about movie lines, though, is how often they are altered during repetition, including the most beloved declarations penned by the Brooklyn bombshell herself.
• • Fred R. Shapiro writes: Another notable instance of the progression of cinematic phrasing toward greater euphony is a line of Mae West’s. For her play “Diamond Lil,” West wrote: “Why don’t you come up sometime?” The later film “She Done Him Wrong” made it longer: “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” We know it today as “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?” . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "‘Movie Misquotations"
• • BY: FRED R. SHAPIRO | Columnist
• • Published by The New York Times | www.nytimes.com
• • Published on: 15 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Mae West: Spittoons on Fulton

Maybe MAE WEST ordered the roast beef or the oysters or the prime ribs, since she was (after all) a red-blooded kind of gal.
• • No record exists of exactly where she sat, if a fellow near her spat, or if the old-fashioned menu made New Yorkers fat. Patrons once included aristocrats, diplomats, and even downtown democrats. And every customer wore a hat in the days when Mae West and Jimmy Durante dined at the historic Gage and Tollner’s restaurant site at 372-374 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York.
• • On 21 January 2010, the famed dining hall will have "a soft opening" as Arby's — the franchise that once featured Mae West on a collectible drinking glass. Franchise owner Raymond Chera claimed that the Landmarks Commission only permitted them to make very minor changes. Does this mean the brass spittoons are still in place?
• • An official opening is scheduled for around Valentine's Day. We'll wait until what's "soft" gets hard.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mae West: Delilah Calling

Unafraid of a challenge, a culture clash, nor an opportunity, MAE WEST sang an abbreviated opera aria in her motion picture "Goin' to Town" [release date: 25 April 1935] costumed, hilariously, as the Biblical temptress Delilah. Portraying the star-crossed strongman Samson she serenades was none other than Mae's pesky in-law Vladimir Bykoff [billed as "the Tenor"]. Classical music buffs are either amused by Mae's spunkiness or astonished. A Camille Saint-Saens devotee, a man with time on his hands and the inability to use the adverb "hopefully" correctly, had this to say recently.
• • It’s been the mezzo-soprano’s national anthem for 130 years, Dalila’s samson-dalila seduction of Samson, complete with hair cut, in Act II of Camille Saint-Saens’s Samson and Delilah, or to use the French title, Samson et Dalila, explains Christopher Purdy. “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix!” proclaims Dalia. My heart opens at your voice! Ah! reponds a ma tendresse! Verse-moi, verse-moi l’ivresse! Answer my tenderness! Fill me with ecstasy! . . .
• • Dalila’s Gallic sultriness has been sung by the greatest artists, among them Marian Anderson, Sigrid Onegin, Dame Clara Butt (I’m not making that up) and Maria Callas (recording only).
• • But there is one performance of this music different than all the rest. It was immortalized in a 1935 film called Goin’ To Town. Not only do we have a very special brand of music making, we also have the hysteria of backstage at the opera, on film. Saint-Saens meets his match long after his death when his music is, er, interpreted by… Mae West [ED: insert a YouTube video here :-D].
• • In her memoir Beverly the late Beverly Sills recalls meeting the very elderly Mae West in Hollywood. “I don’t think she knew who I was, but I certainly knew who she was.” When Sills asked Miss West if she ever sang, the old girl almost lost her false… eyelashes. “I got a fully trained operatic voice!” she crowed. Indeed. Not for nothing was Mae West the highest paid woman in America in the mid 1930s, outranking FDR and the head of General Motors at the height of the depression. . . .
• • It’s a great tune that obviously leaves room for more than one interpretation. Hopefully Shirley Verrett can appreciate Mae West, even if Mae West was truly unique.
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "‘My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice’ — — an Unforgetable Performance…. Honey"
• • BY: Christopher Purdy | Commentator
• • Published by Classical eNotes | WOSU-FM 89.7 — — www.wosu.org
• • Published on: 13 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mae West: Red-Hot Grammy

MAE WEST appeared in variety with Sophie Tucker, who was born on January 13th — — and who is making an appearance at the Grammy Awards later this month.
• • According to informed sources, "When Grammy nominees Johnny Depp and Sophie Tucker, nominated in the same category, walk the red carpet at this year's Grammy Awards, TV cameras and photographers will have a field day when they see flamboyant Vaudeville star Sophie Tucker strutting down the aisle escorted by her writer/ producer Grammy nominees Lloyd and Susan Ecker."
• • "Sophie Tucker [13 January 1884 — 9 February 1966] was an icon to the world's most outrageous female entertainers including Mae West, Bette Midler, and Cher who have walked many red carpets in their showbiz careers," said the Eckers. "Sophie is looking forward to meeting Johnny at the awards telecast."
• • Innovative Films writer-producers Susan and Lloyd Ecker are nominated for Best Album Notes, "Sophie Tucker: Origins of the Red-Hot Mama, 1910 — 1922," for Archeophone Records.
• • The Grammy red carpet will be unfurled on 31 January 2010 when the winners will be announced on CBS.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mae West: Sexual Arena

MAE WEST is the Queen for putting up a mirror in the face of hypocrisy, according to Elaina B. Archer. In the opinion of Ms. Archer: Mae was way ahead of her time and has opened so many doors — — she was a powerhouse, and, for a while, she was virtually untouchable. Of course, until The Code was enforced. Then she lost some of her shock value, along with box office dollars. And, let's face it, in this business, it is all about the dollars. But, Mae West was on a mission — — one that lasted for her entire life.
• • Elaina Archer adds: Sexuality and censorship go hand in hand. It is true that human sexuality is only one issue that is covered when discussing censorship, and a subject that I have always been fascinated in. All of the stars that I have focused upon in my documentary films have stood for some kind of freedom and empowerment in the sexual arena — — yes, even Mary Pickford. I am highly impressed with the ability to create a powerful sexual persona on the screen, something that I truly believes takes a unique talent to pull off in a convincing manner. In another of our programs, "Gangland: Bullets Over Hollywood," we focus on censoring violence and gangland cinema. "Why Be Good? Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema" focuses only on the sexual arena. We include sociological, political, technical and all other aspects of the era in order to provide a background of knowledge that would explain the sexual mores of the time. This allows for a greater understanding of our subject and allows the clips, literally to speak for themselves. Nine years ago, I sold and produced a show for Timeline Films entitled "Complicated Women" which covers the pre-code era from 1929 — 1935. Now, I wished to create a film that shows the pre-pre-code era. I wanted to show that censorship has always existed in one form or another, since the very beginning of film, and even prior to the birth of film, in the theater and in all of the arts. ...
• • "Why Be Good? Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema" is available in DVD format. The footage, directed by Elaina Archer, was narrated by actress Diane Lane. We would love to have your opinions on "Why Be Good?" and your review, so do check it out.
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Censorship in Silents: An Interview with Elaina Archer"
• • BY: Hala Pickford | Commentator
• • Published by Forget the Talkies — — www.forgetthetalkies.com
• • Published on: 8 January 2010

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Mae West: Dans La Rue

The date January 11th brings to mind an Italian-American actor who worked with MAE WEST.
• • How many knew that the Bronx native
Gaspere Biondolillo took the stage-name of "Jack LaRue"? Jack LaRue [birthdate: 3 May 1902] was part of the original Broadway cast when Mae brought her hit "Diamond Lil" to the Royale Theatre in April 1928. Onstage Jack LaRue played Lil's Latin lover Juarez. [Gilbert Roland played that role, under a Russian moniker, in the film version: She Done Him Wrong.]
• • After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, Gaspere Biondolillo became a piano tuner. Dropping into a casting office off Broadway one morning, as he made his rounds of keyboard adjustments, he found himself hired to work as a bellhop in a film that featured actor Edmond O'Brien. For three days work, he earned $45, which sparked his interest in more acting assignments. For the next two years, he tried to get film work
— — and failed. However, Otis Skinner brought him to the stage in a production of "Blood and Sand"; this was at the Empire Theatre [September November 1921]. After his Broadway debut, many more plays came his way.
• • In 1933, George Raft was suspended by Paramount Pictures for refusing to take the unsympathetic role of Trigger in a film based on William Faulkner's novel
Sanctuary renamed "The Story of Temple Drake" with Miriam Hopkins in the film's title role. Paramount cast Jack LaRue instead of George Raft. One job LaRue lost out on, though, was a meaty bit in "Scarface"; Howard Hawks cast LaRue as Guino Rinaldo, the killer protege of Paul Muni (height: 5' 10") but then Hawks decided that LaRue (height: 5' 11½") was too tall for this part. Go figure.
• • LaRue went on to make over 100 movies and many TV appearances.
• • On 13 September 1936, Carlo Roncoroni, head of the new Cines studio in Rome, flew to Hollywood to invite Jack LaRue to appear in the title role
of a film about Christopher Columbus. "According to tentative plans," noted The N.Y. Times, "the picture would be made by an Italian company and Roncoroni believes that, because of its subject, it would be an ideal entering wedge to the American film market."
• • Mae West liked LaRue and fished him into "
Go West, Young Man" [released in November 1936]. They also worked together on other theatre projects, for instance, on Mae's theatrical production: Sextette. This comedy about a woman with many ex-husbands opened on 7 July 1961 at Edgewater Beach Playhouse in Chicago. Jack LaRue played one of her former spouses, an American gangster.
• • In 1973, when the Masquers Club honored Mae West with a "Mae Day" tribute, the ceremony was attended by Jack LaRue, George Raft, Jack Noland, and others.
• • Jack LaRue died in the month of January
— — on 11 January 1984 — — of a heart attack at age 82 in Santa Monica, California.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mae West: Lee Philips

MAE WEST's life was explored on the small screen in 1982 with "Mae West" — — starring Ann Jillian and directed by Lee Philips.
• • Born during the month of January, Lee Philips [10 January 1927 — 3 March 1999], a prolific actor and director, helmed the TV movie when he was 55 years old.
• • Handsome and clean-cut, the native New Yorker graduated from Adelphi College and studied with Harold Clurman. His career began on Broadway. In 1957 he was cast in Hollywood's "Peyton Place," playing the decent, sensitive heartthrob Dr. Michael Rossi opposite Lana Turner's Constance MacKenzie. Afterwards, his career transitioned towards directing with credits ranging from the TV soap opera version of Peyton Place to the Dick Van Dyke Show.
• • It was on 2 May 1982 that the TV drama "Mae West" had its TV premiere with Ann Jillian in the title role. The two-hour program was re-broadcast on ABC television at 9:00 PM on 14 August 1984 (following the excitement of the U.S. Olympics).
• • Remembering the May 1982 production, New York Times critic Richard F. Shepard had these comments two years later. Shepard wrote: ''Mae West'' was originally seen in 1982, long enough ago in these fast-moving times to almost qualify the show as a revival rather than as another summer re-run. It is reasonable programming, a show about a torrid actress in matching weather. It is also a drama that is satisfactory television, not earth-shaking, but one that is particularly admirable because it gives us a chance to see Ann Jillian portray the immortal Miss West.
• • Miss Jillian is not only good to look at, she is also a formidable actress who catches the essence of Miss West: not only the swaying hips but also the precise intonations that could load a phrase with the sort of innuendo that drove censors to blue-pencil conclusions.
• • Actually, E. Arthur Keen's screenplay, directed by Lee Philips, is reminiscent of one of those Alice Faye
Don Ameche Tyrone Power movies in which the stars age ever so slightly over 30 years. This is not an objection, because it doesn't really matter. When things go through a somewhat tedious and mawkish period, they are perked up by a song and a crisis. ...
• • In 1999, Lee Philips succumbed to progressive supranuclear palsy and died in Brentwood, California.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Mae West: Liverpool in January

MAE WEST will open the Controversial Classics Cinema Series in Liverpool later this month — — and her cinematic version of "Diamond Lil" will be onscreen in The Empire State.
• • Oddly enough, this motion picture has not been listed on the library's web site yet but we were tipped off, thanks to the sharpies at Eagle Newspaper in frosty Syracuse, New York.
• • Eagle-eyed arts reporters announced it: "The Liverpool Public Library is pleased to have Syracuse University Professor Kendall Phillips back to present another series on controversial films, their impact on and the reaction to them by society. The first program will take place at 6:00PM on Thursday 21 January 2010 in the Carman Community Room." [Source: Eagle Newspapers — — www.cnylink.com]
• • Kendall Phillips is a leading scholar of rhetoric, public discourse, and rhetoric of popular culture. His university bio notes that he explores these concepts through a variety of rhetorical artifacts, including comic books, film, political speeches, and scientific controversies, and teaches such popular courses as “The Rhetoric of Film,” “Rhetoric and the Public Sphere” and “The Rhetoric of Popular Culture.”
• • On January 21st, Phillips will deliver a short lecture before the screening of "She Done Him Wrong" [1933] starring Mae West and written by her. Since the motion picture is a fast-paced 68 minutes, it is hoped that his prelude will also be bright, breezy, and brief. A post-film discussion will follow. This is a free event and the public is welcome.
• • The Controversial Classics Cinema Series will continue on Thursday evening 18th February with "The Dirty Dozen."
• • WHERE: The Liverpool Public Library: 310 Tulip Street, Liverpool, New York 13088; Telephone: (315) 457-0310
. Tell 'em you heard about it on the MAE WEST BLOG.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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