MAE WEST knew she had a real hit on her hands, at last. On 4 April 1928, if you were standing outside of Leo Teller's Broadway Theatre in Brooklyn, New York [once located at Court Street and Stockton Street], you would have heard thunderous applause and cheers.
• • "You'd have thought that a favorite bootlegger had come back from Atlanta," wrote drama critic Robert Garland in the New York Evening Telegram on 5 April 1928. "[Mae] makes Miss Ethel Barrymore look like the late lamented Bert Savoy."
• • Mae West and her producers had decided to try out her play "Diamond Lil" in the actress's hometown before bringing it to Manhattan, where this "drama of the underworld" enjoyed a long engagement at the Royale Theatre on Broadway. Apparently, the show brought down the house. It was a clean sweep: both the critics and the public adored it.
• • It's always been said that Mae selected an 1890s Bowery setting because the corsetted turn-of-the-century fashions were more flattering to her curvy figure. No one has yet given her credit for recognizing that an old-fashioned saloon setting — — showing bar-goers enjoying their beer — — would touch the right nerve during the "parched" Prohibition Era.
• • So consider it said: Mae West understood her audience and gave them onstage what they missed very much in 1928 — — freedom to bend an elbow and imbibe in public. Brilliant, Mae!
• • Get the ice! On April 4th, drink a toast to Diamond Lil.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • April 1928 • •
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