Monday, August 02, 2010

Mae West: A Scot's Remembrance

Dolly Dempsey began the first MAE WEST Fan Club during the 1930s. Dolly Dempsey was one of the few women Mae West admitted into her inner circle — — a woman for whom she had genuine affection. Kevin Thomas said Dolly was holding Mae's hand when she passed away on 22 November 1980. For many years Mae's fan club continued under the able stewardship of Craig Russell and Paul Novak (both deceased).
• • Who rates a fan club and who does not? In addition to the numerous societies organized by Marilyn Monroe admirers, here is a short sampling of the active groups that have banded together to show their appreciation of the actors and actresses who were Mae's peers.
• • Cary Grant's Fan Club:
• • The Email Warbrides is an email fan club for Cary Grant fans. It started off in July 1996 as a manual mailing list called CGML, because ZoĆ« (mailing list owner) was sure that she was NOT the only Cary Grant fan in cyberspace. And they finally got an autolist at the end of October 1997 — — this list was called the Email Warbrides. The mailing list has continued serving a growing membership. To join: send email to
• • The Official W.C. Fields Fan Club:
• • Ted Wioncek is the president. To join:
• • The Rudolph Valentino Society and Fan Club:
• • Becoming a Proud Sahara Knight includes many benefits. To join: [an efficient and attractive web site].
• • The Official Marlene Dietrich Website & Fan Club:
• • Marlene Dietrich's Fan Club has been established with the cooperation of her heirs and estate. To join: [an elegant web site].
• • A corporate site run by the paid employees of Corbis claims to have an "official" fan club for Mae West, however, no such information appears on any page. Therefore, it is not necessary to list the URL.
• • Proust said that truth is only a point of view about things. Ian, an avid collector of Westiana and one of the founders of the handsome "Mae West Color Site," cherishes the Brooklyn bombshell and presents these thoughts to our readers.
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• • In commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of Mae's burial, Scottish admirer Ian Macnicol examines some of the inciting incidents that sparked a life-long love of Miss Mae West.
• • • • PART 2 • • • •
• • Continuing from yesterday, Ian offers these thoughts.
• • • Ian writes: I have long tried to analyze why Mae holds such a fascination for me. As a child, on the surface, I guess it was simply her keen and suggestive wit, her unique style of delivery, and her amazing looks that attracted me to her and, of course, the fact that she brought my Dad and I closer together. One happy outcome was that my father funded the purchase of her records and we listened to them constantly.
• • • But I suspect other aspects of her persona also entered my consciousness, perhaps subliminally, i.e., the fact that she was always the architect of her own destiny, she was nobody’s fool, and she always knew and got what she wanted. As an adult, it is now clear to me that she was a woman succeeding in a man’s world, and a hostile world at that. By analogy, I think that helped me as a gay man trying to succeed in a straight and sometimes hostile world. The key to all success is self-belief — — and self-belief is something Mae had in spades. So, to that extent, she has been a role model for me and she has helped me through many difficult times. Just thinking about her cheers me up and it always has.
• • • Mae was a ground-breaker, always ahead of her time; no subject was taboo to her. One aspect of her life that is rarely viewed in the positive was her determination not to let her age determine how she wanted to present herself, how she acted or what roles she chose to play. At the time, some commentators suggested that she set herself up for ridicule but viewed today, i.e., thirty years after her death, her approach very much goes with the grain. It is ironic that Raquel Welch [birthdate: 5 September 1940], who said so many disparaging things about the aging Mae during their time together on “Myra Breckenridge,” is now 69-going-on-70 and nearly the same age as Mae was then, and yet she is applauded by one and all for her age-defying appearance and the fact that she has yet to play a granny!
• • • A Fellowship Instead of a Mae West Fan Club • • •
• • • Mae West may not have the following today that the likes of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean have, but her fans are, nevertheless, fiercely loyal and devoted to her memory. When Martin Kappinga and I were creating our tribute website — — — — we were overwhelmed by the kindness of fellow fans who contributed resources for use on the site.
• • • I have so enjoyed meeting fellow fans both in person and online, both in the UK and the US. Through my interest in Mae West, I have made a number of firm and much-valued friends. I hope for a time when Mae will be rediscovered by the younger generations because I genuinely believe that her appeal is timeless and that her work holds up well despite the long passage of time since it was made.
Written by: Ian Macnicol, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

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• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1934 • •
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Mae West.

1 comment:

  1. She may not have a fan club YET but people are still searching the web for information about Miss West.
    She may not have been a great beauty, she may not have had a voice like butter but you couldn't take your eyes or ears off you. She was born with talent and thank goodness she cultivated it!
    We are celebrating her Birthday a little early this year - August 14that at 10:00pm. The Actors Temple Theatre - 339 W. 47th St. NYC. Tickets and information: