Thursday, February 04, 2010

Mae West: Gretchen Wyler

During her lifetime, MAE WEST ruled the Diamond Lil monarchy and no small timers could steal even an eighth of a carat's sparkle from her tiara. Anytime the Brooklyn bombshell heard about a cabaret revue based on "Diamond Lil" or — — heaven forfend — — an actress treading too close to the franchise by name or by game, the legal papers would land. As Mae would argue in court, she had invested too much of herself in that role to allow unrestricted access.
• • In 1988, perhaps with the blessing of Mae's estate, Ed Hastings of the American Conservatory Theatre mounted a new production in San Francisco of this "drama of the underworld" starring the Broadway musical-comedy star Gretchen Wyler in the Mae West role.
• • The show opened in the month of February — — on 4 February 1988 — — with its 56-year-old Bowery queen winning wonderful reviews.
• • Born in Oklahoma as Gretchen Patricia Wienecke on 16 February 1932, Gretchen Wyler had run a dance school in The Sooner State before heading to New York City's bright lights.
• • Miss Wyler enjoyed a varied, fruitful career both onstage and onscreen, and died on 27 May 2007.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
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Mae West.

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