Friday, June 25, 2010

Mae West: Hooray for Mercer

MAE WEST did not fill her household with any remnants from old wedding albums, even though she was legally married twice. But she did not mind playing the oft-married blushing bride Marlo Manners, who enters a posh London hotel lobby on the arm of her sixth husband, only to be greeted by an adoring mob of Marlo fans in "Sextette" [1978]. There is a very impressive rendition of "Hooray for Hollywood" by a large cast of performers. The iconic song was written by Johnny Mercer, who died in the month of June — — on 25 June 1976 — — from a brain tumor at age 66.
• • Unlike Mae West, the singer—songwriter has been honored by the United States Postal Service with his portrait placed on a stamp in 1996. Amazing who gets on an American postage stamp and who does not, eh?
• • Born in Savannah, Georgia, Johnny Mercer [18 November 1909 — 25 June 1976] was an American lyricist, songwriter, and singer. Though he is best known as a lyricist, he composed music, too. He was also a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as those written by others. From the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s, many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time. The prolific musician wrote the lyrics to more than fifteen hundred songs, including compositions for movies and Broadway shows. He received nineteen Academy Award nominations, and won four. Mercer was also a co-founder of Capitol Records.
• • "Hooray for Hollywood" • •
• • "Hooray for Hollywood" is a film song first featured in the motion picture "Hollywood Hotel" [1937], a number that has since become the staple soundtrack element of any Academy Awards ceremony. Curiously enough, "Hooray for Hollywood" is even frequently played during non-American movie ceremonies, e.g. the French C├ęsar Awards. The popularity of the song is notably due to the lyrics by Johnny Mercer, which reference the American movie industry and satirize the illusory desire of many people to become famous as actors. Richard A. Whiting [1891 — 1938] composed the music, then had a heart attack at the height of his fame.
• • When I die, you are going to be very surprised! • •
• • In connection with a special Pride show on Thursday, 24 June 2010 in Manhattan, Joan Rivers got a column devoted to her in The Villager, whose hard-working reporter asked the Botoxed-to-death comedienne if there was anything yet to be revealed. “Only for you,” Joan Rivers said, referring our plea for an exclusive nugget: “I am a man. Mae West did that all her life. Mae would say to her audiences, ‘When I die, you are going to be very surprised!' Then she died and there was no surprise — — but how clever.” [Source: The Villager, Volume 80, Number 4 | June 23 - 29, 2010.]
• • 25 June 1926 • •
• • Speaking of Benefits and good deeds that were scheduled right after the first day of summer, on 25 June 1926, Mae West appeared with Houdini and other entertainers (such as George M. Cohan, Fanny Brice, the Marx Brothers, Al Jolson, Ann Pennington, Hazel Dawn, Eddie Foy, etc.) at the Polo Grounds on West 155th Street in Manhattan's Washington Heights area [zipcode 10032].
• • The fundraiser, organized for the benefit of the United Jewish Campaign, was staged by Mae's old dancing teacher Ned Wayburn.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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