It was the 23rd of March 1924 and MAE WEST was deep in the heart of a Texan.
• • It's also true that she was 30 years old and watching her star-dusted dreams slowly dimming. When she did snag a booking, it was on a low-level variety circuit. Though a few years before she had negotiated an appearance fee of $500, in 1924 she was accepting gigs for only $125 a week. During this frustrating interval, she was hiring and firing her accompanists.
• • Imagine Mae's prickly state of mind as she trouped during the month of March in 1924 through the southwest, where she had accepted a four-week contract to perform on the Interstate Vaudeville Circuit. Covering Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas, this was one of variety's least desirable routes and a far cry from Broadway.
• • In Houston, Texas, the Brooklyn bombshell turned the head of a publicity flack for a nearby playhouse.
• • Eventually, the Associated Press discovered a marriage license [dated 22 March 1924] obtained — — but never used — — by Mae West and a local theatre press agent named R.A. "Bud" Burmeister.
• • Despite the fact that a marriage did not take place in Texas, on 24 April 1935 newspapers like The Berkeley Daily Gazette were announcing Mae had indeed tied the knot with Bud eleven years before. Yikes! And in 1935 it was discovered that a bald, skinny former vaudeville hoofer named Frank Wallace was legally still married to the movie queen.
• • What really happened in 1924? Was it a touch of Cupid or career capitulation that made Mae entertain the idea of settling down? Maybe Mae was overcome by the heat of hormones — — or did she have a pregnancy scare? And how long could she have known Mr. R.A. "Bud" Burmeister, a 34-year-old resident of Harris County, Texas anyway? Hmmmmmm.
• • Marching down the Playhouse Aisle in late March 1924 • •
• • Before any orange blossoms were ordered for the bride, Mae took off (as scheduled) on March 23rd for San Antonio, where she played through March 24th.
• • Perhaps this was the time when Mae registered at the famous Menger Hotel. Located in downtown San Antonio, Texas, this landmark was built in 1859 (23 years after the fall of the adjacent Alamo) by William Menger, a German immigrant. In 1898, Teddy Roosevelt had used the bar to recruit Rough Riders which fought in Cuba in the Spanish-American War.
• • The Menger was San Antonio's most popular hotel in the 19th Century. Mae West along with O. Henry, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Babe Ruth, Oscar Wilde, and others were known to frequent the bar and hotel, which was periodically enlarged and remodelled to accommodate more guests. The Menger Hotel is located here: 204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205.
• • After such a rough ride with romance, Mae headed for the footlights in a Fort Worth theatre, and then saddled up for an engagement in Detroit before returning to the East Coast — — and a long hitch of unemployment.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
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