Monday, July 05, 2010

Mae West: Where No One Dies & Queens Lies

During the early 1930s, MAE WEST visited Lily Dale and formed a strong bond with the flamboyant medium Jack Kelly. During the 1920s, Mae and Texas Guinan held several seances in Manhattan hoping to speak to the recently departed actor Rudolph Valentino. A few years later, Jack Kelly inspired Mae, grieving deeply after her mother's death, to explore her own extra-sensory perceptions in order to communicate with her loved ones.
• • In 2005, there were several seances held in Manhattan to summon the spirit of Mae West. One seance took place on 17 August 2005 in a haunted speakeasy. People who had known the actress were present, hoping to make a connection. Later seances were taped for television.
• • Religion reporter Christine Wicker published her own story on Lily Dale, the world's largest spiritualist community. The small upstate New York town is now the subject of an HBO documentary, "No One Dies In Lily Dale," which will debut on the small screen during the month of July — — on Monday 5 July 2010.
• • According to Christine Wicker, each year, twenty thousand visitors will travel to Lily Dale, the oldest and largest community of Spiritualists in the world. In the past, famous guests included Mae West, Susan B. Anthony, and Harry Houdini. The main attraction of this New York State Victorian village is to consult one of the town’s 450 mediums.
• • In her book "Lily Dale: The Town that Talks to the Dead," Christine Wicker explored the life and spirit of the 122-year old city populated solely by people who believe the dead are still living among them. If you watch on July 5th, let us know what you thought of the TV program.
• • Woodhaven, Queens Tries to Take Credit for Launching Mae's Career • •
• • Most Mae-Mavens know that Mae West was born on 17 August 1893 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York. She spent her childhood in this borough, where her parents helped launch her vaudeville career by entering the act "Baby May, Song and Dance" into many amateur competitions in Bushwick, Brownsville, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint.
• • By the time the John West family moved to the sleepy, rural section of Queens known as Woodhaven, Mae was within kissing distance of her thirtieth birthday.
• • And by the time Mae West was registering the copyright on her manuscripts with the Library of Congress from the family's Woodhaven address, the seasoned entertainer had already been booked for eleven week-long engagements at Hammerstein's Victoria [1912 — 1913]; she had already starred at The Palace [1922] on The Gay White Way; she had already been cast in several Broadway musicals and revues; she had already toured in variety from coast to coast; and she had already married two husbands, Frank Wallace [1911] and Guido Diero [1914]. She had also been a witness at her younger sister's wedding, which took place on 29 January 1917 in Brooklyn City Hall, not far from the West family's Brooklyn residence.
• • A proud Brooklynite, Mae West did not move to suburban Queens until 20 years after her career was well in progress.
• • Furthermore, Mae West never never ever set foot in Neir’s Tavern [87-48 78th Street, Woodhaven, NY] — — though she often dined at The Triangle Hofbrau Inn, where traditional German dishes were served, and other neighborhood restaurants.
• • You can learn a great deal about her life by doing your own primary research or by spending time with excellent Mae West biographies written by Jill Watts [Mae West: An Icon in Black and White] and Emily Wortis Leider [Becoming Mae West].
• • No one who writes for a Queens-based newspaper has read those books, obviously, nor do these humble local news sheets employ a fact-checker. Nor do the Queens papers print letters from readers, messages that offer to CORRECT errors. Tsk! That's too bad — — but why don't journalists double-check details before they run with an odd press release, a self-promoting item that could care less about misinformation as long as it succeeds in luring a few hapless bar-flies?

• • Woodhaven did not launch anyone's vaudeville career. Sorry to have to break it to you, chums.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
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