Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Mae West: 1916's Best Man

Matilda West urged MAE WEST to put together a sister act with Beverly in 1916.
• • In July of that year "Mae West and Sister" appeared at Keith and Proctor's Fifth Avenue Theatre [27-31 West 28th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Broadway]. On the same bill was a Fatty Arbuckle film, a Keystone comedy.
• • Mae and Beverly's vaudeville turn included popular ragtime songs by black composers such as Shelton Brooks, numbers that Mae had previously found success with such as "
They Call It Dixieland" and "Walkin' the Dog," their finale, for which Mae appeared in a man's tuxedo and top hat and Beverly wore feminine frills.
• • But the New York City critics remained dismissive, underwhelmed, and even contemptuous.
• • Variety, 7 July 1916 • •
• • Sime Silverman sniffed and snorted behind his keyboard like an overheated carriage horse. "Unless Miss West can tone down her stage presence in every way," he sneered, "she just might as well hop right out of vaudeville and into burlesque." And if the unabashed Brooklynite was going to continue to be so disarmingly aggressive, Sime scolded Mae by suggesting that she should get up onstage next time in "men's dress altogether."
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1916 • •
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Mae West.

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