Monday, August 09, 2010

Mae West: Nine and a Half Inches

"Beauty knows no pain" — — one saying not attributed to MAE WEST — — might have been muttered under her breath on numerous occasions.
• • The stage actress deals with illusions and perceptions. Since one of Mae's secrets was her height, barely five feet tall, this had to be carefully stage managed during every live show.
• • Most women will wear high heels to increase their stature. An insufficiently tall star must go one better, which led to some custom-made footwear with very high platforms. Though her evening slippers were usually disguised under gowns, and no one was the wiser, Mae's poor little feet surely took a beating. These made-to-order "performance shoes," worn in the mid-1950s during her Las Vegas years, measure a good nine-and-a-half inches high.
• • These shoes were received by the FIDM Museum as part of a large donation of footwear and Jule Park undergarments worn by Mae West. [Gift of Kevin Thomas in Memory of Dolly Dempsey.]
• • Located at 919 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, the FIDM Museum is devoted to the exhibition and interpretation of dress and textiles. The FIDM collection focuses primarily on the 19th and 20th centuries, with an emphasis on American and European dress. When you're in California, come up and see FIDM sometime.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Mae's shoes in 1953 • •
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Mae West.

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