Monday, March 08, 2010

Mae West: Esther Howard

MAE WEST worked with several actresses who had begun bright careers on Broadway before switching to work in motion pictures during the Prohibition Era.
• • Born on 4 April 1892 in Helena, Montana, Esther Howard made her Broadway debut in 1917 at 25 years old in a play called "Eve's Daughter" — — which lasted but a few weeks on West 48th Street at the Playhouse Theatre. [Would it have occurred to Mae to portray Eve on Broadway, as she did on radio on 12 December 1937?] Esther Howard was a mainstay in Times Square productions and showy musicals for the next dozen years.
• • Switching from The Great White Way to Hollywood and Vine in 1931, the accomplished and versatile stage veteran was an expert at portraying blowsy old hags, man-hungry spinsters, and oversexed dowagers.
• • Cast in the Mae West vehicle "Klondike Annie" [1936], Esther Howard portrayed Fanny Radler.
• • Well suited for tense domestic dramas as well as farces and comedies, she appeared in more than 100 movies in her 23-year film career.
• • A heart attack claimed her in the month of March — — on 8 March 1965 — — in Hollywood, California.

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