Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mae West: Seance in Massachusetts

MAE WEST and Texas Guinan held several séances in Manhattan.
• • “What started as a prank by two young sisters soon grew into a worldwide controversy that attracted the attention of Mae West, William James, Queen Victoria, Harry Houdini, and others,” explained Rory Raven. “This presentation in the Merrimack River Valley area traces the history of talking to the dead and offers some re-creations of what happened in the Victorian séance room.”
• • On Wednesday, 6 October 2010, at 6:30 PM, join Rory Raven — — mentalist and mindbreaker — — as he explores the history of séances. "Mindbreaker" — — hmmmm, is that supposed to be a good thing?
• • Every Wednesday night during October this year, the Tewksbury Public Library in New England will be hosting a Halloween-inspired adult event that promises to both scare and fascinate audiences. This four-part series — — called “Fright Nights” — — is full of tricks and treats. If you are not a mentalist like Mae West, then just pick up the phone and dial the librarians at 978-640-4490 ext. 207.
• • In September, Let's Remember . . . • •
• • Fitzroy Davis wrote the least favorite of Mae West's motion pictures "The Heat's On" [1943]. The actor-singer-novelist was born on 27 February 1912. During the 1960s, Fitzroy Davis penned articles for gay publications using the pen name Hadrian. Davis died in Putnam, Connecticut during the month of September — — on 30 September 1980 — — at age 68.
• • ,Born in Chicago on 16 February 1903, Edgar Bergen was an American actor and radio performer best known as a ventriloquist.
• • Mae West did a sketch on his radio program, a show aired on 12 December 1937, that resulted in her fifteen-year broadcasting ban.
• • At age 75, and during his farewell tour, Edgar Bergen died in his sleep in Las Vegas, Nevada during the month of September — — on 30 September 1978 — — of kidney disease.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mae West: Alan Brooks

"Pleasure Man" written by MAE WEST had its opening night on 1 October 1928 padlocked by the police. Alan Brooks who portrayed Rodney Terrill died at the end of September — — on 29 September 1936 — — in Saranac Lake, NY, at age 48. Did the stressful 1930s obscenity trial contribute to his early demise?
• • Actor Alan Brooks, who played the title role, swore on the witness stand that he was astonished to discover that his character in "Pleasure Man" had died from being castrated. The debonair 42-year-old leading man testified in smart-looking spats and a gorgeous suit.
• • In January 1917, the performer also had to sue The Palace over a salary dispute. The court ruled in his favor and the determined vaudevillian walked away with his weekly wages of $665.
• • Born as Irving Hayward on 25 January 1888 in New York City, Alan Brooks was active on The Gay White Way from 1909 — 1932. During that interval, Brooks was cast opposite Lionel Barrymore in "The Piker" [1925] and helmed his own Broadway trifecta when he wrote, directed, and starred in the comedy "Merchants of Venus" [1920].
• • The life of an actor has never been an easy one whether onstage or during the drama of the witness stand.
• • The legal battles fought by Mae West and Alan Brooks are dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets," set during the Prohibition Era. Watch a scene on YouTube.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West's 1930 trial • • left to right: a lawyer, Mae West, Alan Brooks, Texas Guinan • •
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mae West: William B. Davidson

One actor worked with Texas Guinan and also in two motion pictures starring MAE WEST.
• • Born in Dobbs Ferry, New York on 16 June 1888, William B. Davidson launched his cinema career playing handsome leading men in silent films with Vitagraph in 1914 when he was 26.
• • Among his credits is "Queen of the Night Clubs" [1929]; in his role as the Assistant District Attorney he is soundly lectured by the night club empress Texas Guinan.
• • Nearly six-foot-two and with a strapping build, he was memorable as Ernest Brown in "I'm No Angel" [1933].
• • Often cast as a man of authority in character roles, Davidson portrayed the sheriff in "My Little Chickadee," which co-starred Mae West and WC Fields.
• • William B. Davidson died in Santa Monica, California during the month of September — — on 28 September 1947 — — after surgery.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Mae West: Butt of the Century

MAE WEST worked with one actor who was nicknamed "the butt of the century" by the legendary Los Angeles Times Hollywood columnist Joyce Haber.
• • Born in Baxter, Tennesse in the month of September — — on 27 September 1945 — — Roger Herren was a handsome young hopeful of brief acclaim during the late 1960s. Gifted with southern charm, a muscular physique, and a handsome face, Herren appeared to be poised for stardom, however, he is known to have had only one credited film role and one credited stage role.
• • What curse befell the six-foot, 185-pound 25-year-old in 1970? Herren saw his career peak and fizzle with his co-starring performance as Rusty Godowsky in the 1970 cinema version of Gore Vidal's 1968 bestseller "Myra Breckinridge" (1970). The controversial film featured the newcomers Farrah Fawcett, who played Herren's girlfriend, and Tom Selleck, in a small but unforgettable role opposite the inimitable Mae West. Tom Selleck actually lost the larger role to Roger Herren.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mae West: Tough Guy George

MAE WEST's autobiography reveals very little about her longtime friend George Raft. His biographer Lewis Yablonsky also does not reveal much about their close relationship. Clearly, they had similar ideas about privacy though there was more to the story.
• • George Raft, who began his career as a taxi dancer, was born in a tough neighborhood of New York City, long known as Hell's Kitchen, in the month of September — — on 26 September 1895. He was the oldest of nine boys by Conrad Ranft (a German immigrant) and Eva Glockner, who soon relocated their family further uptown to Washington Heights.
• • According to Turner Classic Film's cinema historian Lorraine LoBianco: Mae West appeared with Raft in her first film "Night After Night" (1932), which was his first starring film. "Working with George Raft was a real inducement, if you know what I mean. There was a thing between me and him after Night After Night. We stayed friends for life. We had a kind of bond. George Raft gave up being a gangster in real life for being a movie gangster. Good trade. I thought he'd be a big star. Well, he didn't make that, but he had a swell career. I think it was because he didn't have enough drive. He settled for what came easy, and was easily satisfied, where his career was concerned. There were people who called him a lowlife, and they said he wasn't good for me personally or professionally. What did they know? I had my intuition, and he had a good heart — — and more."
• • Lorraine LoBianco noted: Raft, for his part, revealed in 1978 that he spoke to Mae every day on the phone, something he'd done for years. She was his favorite co-star and Raft appeared in her final film, "Sextette" (1978). The life-long friends would pass away within two days of each other in 1980.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mae West: Nip at Napkins

MAE WEST quipped “I’ve been in more laps than a napkin.”
• • Back in her day, when reusable cloth napkins saw lots of laps, that was a pretty impressive claim. These days, most napkins get used once, and some of those never even make it to a lap. She’d probably have to update that to a ThinkPad or Kindle, just to protect her reputation. [from: Friday: "Some Choice Words" — — By Patrick Merrell, on 23 September 2010, The N.Y. Times]
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Mae West: Muscle Lads

A Washington, D.C. production of "MAE" — — based on the career of MAE WEST — — will be onstage until 2 October 2010. Several local reviews have appeared. Here is a selection from one critique.
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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Laura and Mike Clark attended a performance on 18 September 2010. The Clarks wrote: Rachel Hardin played the star of the show Mae West. She kept the walk and talk faithfully throughout the evening. Hardin played Mae with a distance that did not allow her to get hurt often — — although she seemed to treat Mr. Mae as a kid brother. Hardin’s mannerisms and speech patterns were consistent and convincing, presenting Mae as the sex symbol she was. Mr. Mae West was played by Matthew G. Myers. Myers had the walk down pretty handily. His attempt at the Mae West accent did not go over too well and Myers kept that to a minimum. He seemed to do a lot of standing around and listening to Mae, although he grew more excited over time as he learned more about Mae from Mae. It seemed he was trying to absorb everything he could to improve his act. Mae’s parents Matilda and Jack West (played by Amy Thompson and Philip Hylton) seemed a bit stiff on stage, but that fit perfectly into the stereotype of a star performing trying to escape her strict family upbringing. Mae’s sister Beverly was played by Cate Brewster. It was interesting watching their relationship get strained and grow closer over time.
• • The Mead Theatre Lab is a black box theater which Saturday night had about 40 people and felt packed. The stage was narrow, but deep. The set never changed and there seemed to be adequate room for costume changes off stage. Sylvia Scarratt’s costumes were attractive. Mr. Mae West and Mae West stayed in pretty much the same outfit for the entire show. Pianist Danielle Hahn provided underscoring and accompanied Hardin and Myers’ songs.
• • There were a few scenes that it was dfficult to tell the scene’s time period. Mae West didn’t age, other than when we saw Mae’s first performance as Baby Mae, portrayed by Zophia Pryzby. Other than some poetic license taken in spots with the life of Mae West, this was an entertaining introduction to the life of Mae West.
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Review: KatPa Productions "MAE"
• • By: Laura and Mike Clark
• • Published by: ShowBizRadio — — www.ShowBizRadio.net
• • Published on: 23 September 2010
• • PHOTO by Charlie Scarratt: Mae (Rachel Hardin) with musclemen angels (Shannon Perkins Jr., and Johnno Wilson)
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mae West: Jenks and Gents

MAE WEST worked with two actors born on the same date — — and relaxed after a long day on the set with a bowl of Barney's chili. Clearly, she knew her beans.
• • Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania in the month of September — — on 23 September 1876 — — Si Jenks played a Country Bumpkin in "Go West Young Man" [1936].
• • The former vaudevillian was usually cast in motion pictures as a bewhiskered curmudeon type. Seen in hundreds of westerns, the bit part player usually added a few chuckles to the scene as a toothless old codger.
• • Si Jenks developed heart diseasse and died on 6 January 1970 in Woodland Hills, California.
• • Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada in the month of September — — on 23 September 1897 — — Walter Pidgeon played Mr. Chambers, the chairman in "Sextette" [1978].
• • Dapper and tall [6' 2 1/2"], Pigeon began his career as a voice student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, which helped him land several roles in Broadway musicals. When his footsteps led to a silver screen career, he began in silents and transitioned to talkies. Despite his good looks, he was seldom seen as a leading man, though he had a long career in supporting roles.
• • Walter Pidgeon died of a stroke on 25 September 1984 in Santa Monica, California.
• • Mae West Was a Regular at Barney's Beanery • •
• • Barney's Beanery, the third oldest restaurant in Los Angeles and venerable roadhouse/ famed celebrity hangout, will kick off its 90th anniversary celebration with a "5 Alarm Chili Cook-off" on Saturday, 9 October 2010, at the venerable roadhouse's original location which opened in 1920. ... The roadhouse's history includes a continuous following of Hollywood celebrities, including Quentin Tarantino who wrote parts of Pulp Fiction tableside, Doors' Jim Morrison who spent many a raucous night there, Janis Joplin, who was served her last meal there, and over the years iconic regulars, including Mae West, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, W.C. Fields, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Moore, Adam Sandler, and Drew Carey.
• • Lester Colodny Worked with Mae West • •
• • Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1925, Les Colody portrayed a card player in a revival of "Diamond Lil" — — starring Mae West — — when the popular crowd-pleaser was on Broadway during its 1951 production [from 14 September 1951 — 10 November 1951].
• • Fast forward 59 years. According to the Jewish Ledger: Lester Colodny of Westport, Connecticut spent decades in show business as a talent agent, ad man, writer, actor, director, and producer. His just-published memoir, "A Funny Thing Happened: Life Behind the Scenes — Hollywood Hilarity and Manhattan Mayhem" is an account of those years, when he worked with such luminaries as Mae West, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Frank Sinatra, and Dave Garroway, to name a few. As an agent, he discovered Woody Allen. ...
• • Lester Colodny is now 85 years old and we wish him well with this book.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mae West: Glasgow Glories

Memories of MAE WEST aroused fresh delight among her fans in Glasgow, Scotland — — where a 1927 hotel she stayed in has been lovingly restored.
• • Marianne Halavage writes: Mae West, Gene Kelly, and Cary Grant were among the stars who checked in to Glasgow's Central Hotel — — now it has been reborn. . . . Fast-forward to 2010, and Jack Dyce, 91, and Netta, 89, are sitting in their living room in Giffnock, outside Glasgow, reminiscing about how integral the Central has been to their lives. ...
• • According to Marianne Halavage: In its post-war heyday, the Central drew more than just the elite of Glasgow. Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, Laurel and Hardy, the Queen, John F Kennedy, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Cary Grant and the Beach Boys, to name just a few, stayed or dined there. Netta remembers being on the desk in the 1940s when Edward G Robinson, the American actor who played gangsters in films such as Little Caesar and Key Largo, was in town. He brought her chocolate. “I was astonished to find that he had a beautiful voice and he loved paintings and was very cultured,” Netta says. “He was the opposite of the Robinson in his films.”
• • Halavage, who interviewed Netta Dyce, adds: She met other Hollywood stars as well, including Vivien Leigh (“very friendly, very nice”), Danny Kaye (“a hoot”), and Mae West. “Mae West really did walk with her hands on her hips, like in her films. I’ve a nice signed photograph from her.” Netta puts her hands on her hips and imitates West’s drawl. “She used to come by and say, ‘Hullow Nedda, howya doin'?’” . . .
• • To continue reading about the stage and screen stars who briefly stayed in Scotland, see the link below.
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Ghosts, glamour, and Hollywood greats at Glasgow’s Central Hotel"
• • By: Marianne Halavage
• • Published in: The Herald Scotland — — www.heraldscotland.com/
• • Published on: 20 September 2010
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mae West: Nelson Sardelli

A former lover of Jayne Mansfield was featured in one motion picture with MAE WEST.
• • Born in Brazil, Nelson Sardelli celebrates his birthday in the month of September — — on 20 September 1934. The tall (well, 5' 11"), dark, and handsome son of Italian immigrants, who had settled in South America, has said that his father was a major role model. Sardelli pere worked as a policeman for several years before entering the field of law. This vocational calling of his parent somehow ignited his son's desire to amass an enormous trove of police paraphernalia. Not only does he collect firearms but he also picked up the little known accomplishment of "gun twirling," which he shows off during appearances in Vegas and Atlantic City.
• • From 1982 — 1963, Sardelli had only has three motion pictures to his credit. He was cast in the role of Mario in "Myra Breckinridge" [released on 24 June 1970].
• • His official web site boasts that Nelson Sardelli is not a television or recording artist who "fills in" at night clubs between TV and recording jobs. He is among the few entertainers who CHOSE a career as a night club performer and though he "fills in" with TV and movie appearances, he is truly in his element before a live audience.
• • May he have a large number of the living to help him blow out all 76 candles
such as the now famous daughter he had with Jayne Mansfield when they were a hot couple in 1963.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Mae West: Noble Obit

A champion, who had many triumphs to recall, most fondly remembered working in a motion picture with MAE WEST.
• • Horse trainer, humanitarian, and historian, nobody put together as long and meaningful a life as Noble Threewitt, who died this weekend at age 99, writes Steve Schuelein.
• • "I used to tell people that one of the wonderful things about this business is that you meet people from all walks of life," Noble Threewitt told THOROUGHBRED TIMES in January 2002. That included meeting actress Mae West when he played the role of a jockey in the 1935 Paramount Studios movie, "Goin' To Town."
• • Born 24 February 1911, in the Southern Illinois agricultural town of Benton, Threewitt trained more than 2,000 winners after taking out his trainer's license at Agua Caliente, Mexico, in 1931, notes Steve Schuelein.
• • For a truly fascinating look at Threewitt — — "The Methuselah of West Coast racing" — — do check out the link below.
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Obituary: "Venerable trainer Noble Threewitt dies at age 99"
• • By: Steve Schuelein, California-based Thoroughbred Times correspondent
• • Published in: The Thoroughbred Times — — www.thoroughbredtimes.com
• • Published on: 18 September 2010
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mae West: Jersey Shore

MAE WEST performed in Atlantic City a few times.
• • This weekend HBO viewers can visit New Jersey and enjoy "Atlantic City: The Original Sin City" — — a TV Special that will be broadcast on 19 September 2010.
• • During 1913 — 1915, when she was booked on the Keith Circuit, Mae honed her vaudeville skills by entertaining the crowds outdoors on the Steel Pier. One of several piers that jettisoned from the main drag, the Steel Pier first opened in 1898 and developed a reputation for offering top talent. Performers featured there included W.C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, Benny Goodman, Bob Hope, Amos ‘n Andy, Frank Sinatra, etc.
• • And when she brought her play "The Constant Sinner" to Atlantic City in August 1931, the crowds lined up for tickets, noted The New York Times: "With two rows of standees and chairs in the aisles for extra celebrants, last Monday night saw Mae West run through her latest daisy chain, The Constant Sinner, at the Apollo Theatre in Atlantic City. . ." [NY Times 30 August 1931].
• • Starring in the role of Babe Gordon, Mae debuted the show on Broadway on September 14th of that year.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mae West: Newsmaker

Not one week passes without MAE WEST's presence in the news. Here are some curious tidbits.
• • Queston: If you could meet one person dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Answer: I'd like some time to chill with Mae West: "When I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad, I'm better." Her moxie was outstanding.
• • • • Source: 'Outlaw's' Carly Pope: Her dishy celeb crush plus 9 more juicy tidbits — — Interview by Jethro Nededog [15 September 2010]
• • ... Her take on the bluesy Mae West track "A Guy What Takes His Time" is magic. There is a suggestive wink in her voice every bit as sexy as the brash and brassy original. ....
• • • • Source: Music Review: Kathryn Williams — "Relations" By Jack Goodstein | BlogCritics.org [11 September 2010]
• • New title: Stick-To-It-Iveness by Addie Johnson — — Stick-To-It-Iveness is that bit of inspiration we need when we are at that low. It is a very easy read, and filled with positive uplifting quotes, not only from the author, but from a variety of sources, including Mae West, Gandhi, and Winston Churchill. Addie includes personal anecdotes and bits of information that uplift and inspire! ...
• • • • Source: Book Review by Deanna Joseph, BellaOnline's Inspiration Editor [Sept 2010]
• • A new study published in the June print edition of the journal, Psychological Science, outlines how researchers found having more money diminished the “ability to savour everyday ­positive emotions and experiences.” ... Or maybe it is just about appreciating what you have as many (including Mae West and Cher) have said: “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.”
• • • • Source: AFP-Relaxnews
• • In the words of that eminent philosopher Mae West: “When a woman goes wrong … men go right after her.” Amen, Sister Mae. We get the message in the unlikeliest of places with “Easy A,” a witty and sneakily wise teen comedy that opens today in local theaters. ...
• • • • Source: Movie Review: A scarlet letter proves to have its advantages with 'Easy A' By Mal Vincent | The Virginian-Pilot [16 September 2010]
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Mae West: Mae Does DC

Come up and see MAE WEST tonight — — not far from The White House.
• • KatPa Productions presents a play about stage and screen icon Mae West returning from the dead to educate her impersonator. "Mae" is a play with music about what happens when the legendary Mae West comes back from the great beyond to tutor an unsuccessful Mae West impersonator and discuss her life’s triumphs and tragedies. KatPa Productions is calling their new show "a sinfully fun evening filled with memories, music, musclemen and much, much more!"
• • “Everything one loves about Mae West is in this play,” notes playwright Kathryn O’Sullivan. The play features numbers from Mae’s first performance as 'Baby May' to her vaudeville sister act to a screen performance with Cary Grant to her famous Vegas Musclemen act. “There’s even a little magic with a disappearing act, but you have to come to the show to find out who disappears,” teases O’Sullivan.
• • O’Sullivan’s husband, Paul Awad, is directing the show. “I have wanted to direct this play since I first read an early draft ten years ago,” says Awad. “Turns out I had to marry the playwright to do so.”
• • WHAT: Written by Kathryn O’Sullivan; Directed by Paul Awad; CAST includes Cate Brewer, Robert Bromley, Lacey Anne Garcia, Rachel Hardin, Phillip Hylton, David Kozisek, Matthew G. Myers, Shannon Perkins Jr., Zophia Pryzby, Charlie Retzlaff, Amy Thompson, and Johnno Wilson.
• • WHEN: 17 September 2010 — 2 October 2010, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM.
• • WHERE: Flashpoint, 916 G Street NW, Washington, DC; T. 202-315-1305
www.flashpointdc.org.
• • Tell them you heard about it on the MAE WEST BLOG.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mae West: Earl Carroll

On 16 September 1951 MAE WEST was taking her bows at the enormous Broadway Theatre. A revival of "Diamond Lil" had opened two days before at this prestigious playhouse situated (then as now) on The Gay White Way: 1681 Broadway near West 53rd.
• • Built in 1924 as B.S. Moss's Colony Theatre, the venue had changed its name — — during the month of September — — on 27 September 1932 when it became Earl Carroll's Broadway Theatre.
• • Ten years before that renaming, Mae was desperately knocking on her friend Earl Carroll's door during the summer of 1922 when she needed assistance so that "The Ginger Box Revue" could be staged. "Boy, did I pester him!" Mae told a reporter. But when the millionaire impresario (famous for eleven editions of "Earl Carroll's Vanities") brushed her off, Mae's hopes fizzled and the musical revue foundered.
• • Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the month of September — — on 16 September 1893 — — Earl Carroll was an ambitious American theatrical producer, director, songwriter, and composer. Known as "the troubadour of the nude," Carroll was well-known for his productions featuring the most lightly clad showgirls on Broadway.
• • When he was 54, Earl Carroll died in the crash of United Airlines Flight 624, which also took the life of his 39-year-old girlfriend, Beryl Wallace, on 17 June 1948, in Aristes, Pennsylvania.
• • It's really too bad that Mr. Carroll never got to enjoy the "Diamond Lil" revival, which was staged until 10 November 1951 and delighted audiences and critics alike.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mae West: Silver Screen's Gold

If there is a compendium about motion picture comedy, then it must include the great comedienne MAE WEST — — and this new title discusses her unique contribution with well-shaped language.
• • A critique of ANOTHER FINE MESS: A History of American Film Comedy by Saul Austerlitz [Chicago Review, 512 pages] was spotted in The Boston Globe. A portion appears below.
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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Reviewer James Sullivan writes: Film comedy, Woody Allen once claimed, is harder to produce than drama. Still, the perpetually unsatisfied director was convinced that comedy is “less valuable than serious stuff.’’
• • In “Another Fine Mess,’’ a survey of the most significant artists — — yes, artists — — to make us laugh at the movies, from Charlie Chaplin to Will Ferrell, writer and critic Saul Austerlitz takes rigorous exception to Allen’s line of thinking. Addressing sexual, racial, economic, or political tensions, comedy has always helped its audience sort through the vagaries of the way we live now. Slapstick, screwball or spoof, comedy serves a function.
• • “We turn to drama to experience a heightened version of the world as we know it — — life, puffed up,’’ writes the author. “Comedy releases all that hot air; our laughter is a bemused acknowledgment of our own collective foibles and inadequacies.’’
• • Perilously, Austerlitz set for himself the task of identifying the 30 most representative comic figures in Hollywood history. Many are obvious — — Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, Woody Allen, the Marx Brothers, Peter Sellers. Others, such as Dustin Hoffman, a dramatic actor who has done lots of comedies, or Judd Apatow, the director of a recent spate of ribald, dude-centric cash cows, might need a little splainin’.
• • But the writer, who contributes occasionally to the Boston Globe, and whose first book was a history of the music video, makes his case as deftly as Groucho lanced metaphorical balloons. W.C. Fields, the master of the withering aside, was in his early silent-film appearances “a juggler performing with one hand tied behind his back,’’ the critic observes. And if Preston Sturges, director of the classic comic testimonial “Sullivan’s Travels,’’ gave frequent leading man Joel McCrea the power to bend “the world to his will,’’ McCrea’s successor, the “pint-sized neurotic’’ Eddie Bracken, “could hardly convince his own extremities to comply.’’
• • Austerlitz notes that his biographical chapters are intended to create a conversation among comedy’s most influential practitioners. Arranged in rough chronological order, the effect is cumulative. Mae West’s brazen sexuality primps the pillow for Marilyn Monroe’s bombshell self-awareness; unlikely bedfellows Jerry Lewis and Richard Pryor somehow manage to conceive Eddie Murphy. ...
• • ... The author would not be the first to linger over the genius of Chaplin’s beloved Tramp, or the directors Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder, or Cary Grant’s canny subversion of his own good looks. “If Mount Rushmore were dedicated to comedians instead of statesmen,’’ he suggests, “Grant would have found himself climbing across his own face in ‘North By Northwest.’ ’’ ...
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Book Review: "Great film comics help us live with ourselves"
• • By: James Sullivan
• • Published in: The Boston Globe — — boston.com
• • Published on: 14 September 2010
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• • Tell the bookseller you heard about it on the MAE WEST BLOG.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mae West: Talent in Oregon

Gwen Overland has written a song-stuffed show about MAE WEST and this production will preview this week on Thursday, 16 September 2010 in "The Beaver State" — — and hold that snicker, beaver buffs.
• • A local reporter Teresa Thomas interviewed the performer for The Ashland Daily Tidings and her very interesting article appears below. If you plan to see this show, let us know.
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• • Teresa Thomas writes: The brassy and flamboyant Mae West was once quoted saying, "If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning."
• • An actress, singer and sex symbol of the early 20th century, West was recognized for her clever humor and bawdy double entendres, as well as for her strong personality as a liberated female.
• • "She never showed any skin, used swear words or mentioned any body parts," says Gwen Overland, who stars as West in Camelot Theatre's "Spotlight on Mae West." "She knew how to not say anything and get the full message across."
• • The production previews Thursday, 16 September 2010, and runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays through 26 September 2010.
• • Gwen Overland wrote the script for the production, which will feature some narration, a short biography, 18 songs sung and popularized by West, as well as two radio snippets from when West appeared on "The Chesterfield Supper Club," an NBC music radio program hosted by Perry Como.
• • According to Gwen Overland: Of the 18 songs featured in the spotlight, Mae West wrote "Put Off Till Tomorrow," and "That's All, Brother, That's All." Other scores featured include "Come Up and See Me Sometime," "My Old Flame" and "They Call Me Sister Honky Tonk."
• • "She could sing anything that had a vaudeville, comic twist," says Overland.
• • West's music demonstrated her impeccable timing and musicianship and her marked Brooklyn accent, says Overland.
• • West was born in 1893 to John Patrick West, a boxer turned detective, and Matilda Doelger, a corset model. As a youth, she was a vaudeville performer before appearing on Broadway in 1911. Later, she began writing her own risqué plays, including "Sex," a notorious production critics hated and the box office loved. She also penned "The Drag," "The Wicked Age," "Pleasure Man," "The Constant Sinner" and "Diamond Lil."
• • West made her film debut in 1932 in "Night After Night," starring George Raft. She starred in several films in the 1930s and early '40s, including "She Done Him Wrong" and "I'm No Angel," both starring Cary Grant, as well as "My Little Chickadee" with W.C. Fields.
• • "She broke into a business primarily dominated by men and was very successful in it," says Overland.
• • In the third chapter of her career, West was a nightclub performer and appeared as a guest performer on radio and television. In 1978, at the age of 85, West starred in her final film, "Sextette."
• • "I'm just amazed that she could have an 80-year career and keep the same image and at the same time reinvent herself," says Overland. "She kept the audience curious, which is kind of provocative in itself."
• • Camelot veteran Bob Jackson Miner stars as Perry Como and the narrator. Musical direction is by Mark Reppert, Camelot's resident musical director. Accompanying Overland are Kevin Piquette on trumpet, Reppert on keyboards, Peter Spring on woodwinds, and Steve Sutfin on drums.
• • Overland appeared in Camelot's production of "Cabaret" and more recently directed "Moon Over Buffalo."
• • Tickets to "Spotlight on Mae West" are now being sold. For more details online: see www.camelottheatre.org.
• • If you go — —
• • What: "Spotlight on Mae West ... a Little Biography and a Lot of Music"
• • When: September 16th
26th
• • Where: Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Avenue, Talent, Oregon 97540
• • Tickets: phone 541-535-5250
— — Source: — —
• • Article: "'Spotlight on Mae West' — — Camelot presents the life and music of the singer, actress, comedian, and sex symbol"
• • By: Teresa Thomas
• • Published in: The Ashland Daily Tidings — — www.dailytidings.com
• • Published on: 9 September 2010
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• • “Spotlight on Mae West” features 18 songs, including “St. Louis Woman,” “I Wanna Go Home With You,” “Now I’m a Lady,” “I’m in the Mood for Love,” “My Old Flame,” “Pardon Me for Loving and Running” and, of course, “Come Up and See Me Sometime.”
• • Though Mae West recorded "That's All Brother, That's All" in 1935, Smiley Burnette [1911 — 1967], the stage name of the actor and singer Lester Alvin Burnette, always took credit for writing it; Burnette also recorded it on a few of his albums.
• • "Spotlight on Mae West" previews at 8 p.m., Thursday 16 September 2010, opens Friday, 17 September and runs through 26 September 2010. Performances are on the weekend: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
• • Tell them you heard about it on the MAE WEST BLOG.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Mae West: Lasky's Folies

More than anything, vaudevillian MAE WEST wanted to be "in the legit" — — on The Gay White Way — — and Jesse Lasky gave her an opportunity.
• • In 1911, Jesse Lasky opened the "Folies-Bergere," a plush theatre restaurant on West 46th Street and he cast a pretty 18-year-old Mae to appear in the cabaret with a comedy duo, Cook and Lorenz. The extravaganza was produced by Ned Wayburn, Mae's dancing teacher and was called "A La Broadway." The venue was all wrong for this production, which lasted only eight nights. Nevertheless, the show won Mae some positive attention.
• • Shining Lights in the Cast . . . • •
• • The New York Herald reported: "There were some shining lights in the cast — — notably Mae West." The New York Times critic wrote: "A girl named Mae West, hitherto unknown, pleased by her grotesquerie and a snappy way of singing and dancing."
• • Born in San Francisco, California in the month of September
— — on 13 September 1880 — — Jesse Lasky went on to be the founder of the Jesse Lasky Feature Play Company, which later merged with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players to form the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, one of the major studios of the silent era.
• • Quite versatile, Jesse Lasky started out as a reporter and then made failed plans to join the Alaska Gold Rush. Also a talented musician, Lasky then tried his hand at being a bandleader in Hawaii. Upon his return to the United States, he and his sister Blanche teamed up to play the coronet in vaudeville; this led to his becoming a vaudeville promoter.
• • In 1913 he and his brother-in-law Samuel Goldfish (who later became Sam Goldwyn) formed the first studio with Goldfish functioning as president and Lasky as the vice-president. In 1914, their first film, The Squaw Man, became a great hit and an industry milestone in that it was the first epic western; its success also helped make Hollywood a center for filmmaking. Eventually his Famous Players-Lasky company merged and merged again until it became Paramount, another major studio in American cinema history.
• • Perhaps thirteen was his lucky number. Born on the 13th of September, Jesse Lasky died on 13 January 1958 at age 77.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mae West: Larry Ceballos

The choreographer most often associated with MAE WEST is Ned Wayburn, though he never used her name on any of his advertisements. Naturally, Mae worked with other talented dance captains including this ambitious five-foot-four Latino, who was grooming her for big things in Greenwich Village in the summer of 1922.
• • In September, Let's Remember Larry Ceballos • •
• • Born in Iquique, Chile on 21 October 1887, Larry's birth name was Hilarion Ceballos.
• • In addition to creating dance numbers for Mae and the cast of The Ginger Box Review, Larry Ceballos had worked on Broadway. Months before Black Friday, he had completed one of his film shorts for Vitaphone — — "Larry Ceballos' Roof Garden Revue" [May 1929]. He also directed the motion picture "The Gay Nineties" [1942].
• • Larry Ceballos died in Los Angeles in the month of September — — on 12 September 1978.
• • According to biographer Emily Wortis Leider: The Ginger Box served up wall-to-wall Mae West. In addition to featuring her as Circe, turning her lovers into swine, it presented Mae West as a Broadway vamp (played to Harry Richman's victim), Mae West singing "I Want a Cave Man," Mae West clowning to Tommy Gray's "I'm a Night School Teacher," and torching a song whose regretful tone she would later rule out: "Sorry I Made You Cry."
• • The numbers were staged by Broadway director and choreographer Larry Ceballos [1887 — 1978]. At five-feet-four, the Chilean dance master was barely taller than Mae. But since Larry Ceballos had collaborated before with the Austrian composer Arthur H. Gutman [1891 — 1945], Dupont managed to drag both of these worthy gentlemen onboard for his ill-starred maiden voyage.
• • The libretto credit went to Paul Dupont, and the music credit went to Arthur H. Gutman. Promotional material printed by Jerome H. Remick & Co. indicated the first number was to be Mae's introductory song "Come Over" followed by "Canoodle-Ooodle-Oo," then "Eugene O'Neill, You've Put a Curse on Broadway" — — also meant for Mae. Four more songs were prepared for either a soloist or the ensemble; these were: "California Poppy," "Sister Teams," "Big Chief Hooch," and "Cottage for Two."
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mae West: Strange Fruits

Even MAE WEST's charisma could not save "Myra Breckinridge" [released on 24 June 1970] — — but two numbers she performed onscreen were pressed on a promotional disk and the record has become quite a keepsake. It took the efforts of three adults worshipping at the grotto of improbable thoughts to come up with an astonishing sweetcake fat with brag like "You Gotta Taste All the Fruit," copyrighted in 1964 and only used in this particular motion picture. Maybe it became tainted fruit, especially for morose types who prefer songs about ummm . . . suffering heroically. Tsk! So many can't take a joke.
• • Born in Brooklyn, New York during the month of September — — on 11 September 1925 — — Alan Bergman was part of this tutti-frutti threesome. He penned the lyrics with his wife Marilyn Bergman and Sammy Fain wrote the music.
• • The prolific songwriter, composer, and author was educated at UCLA and the University of Northern Carolina (BA). During WW II, he wrote and directed Special Services shows, then directed TV shows for CBS in Philadelphia, PA from 1945—1953. He joined ASCAP in 1955 and wrote TV production numbers for Jo Stafford special shows, and songs for Fred Astaire and Marge and Gower Champion. He also wrote songs for revues and night club acts. Happy Birthday, Alan.
• • In September, Let's Remember 9/11/2001 • •
• • Here in The Big Apple, September 11th has become a poignant day for remembrance. See you soon, everybody.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Mae West: Shocking Elsa

MAE WEST worked with two people who celebrated a birthday on September 10th.
• • Born in Rome, Elsa Schiaparelli [10 September 1890? — 13 November 1973] was an influential fashion designer of Italian and Egyptian heritage. Along with Coco Chanel, she dominated fashion between the two World Wars.
• • Elsa Schiaparelli opened her first salon, "stupidir le Sport," in 1927; the focus was on sportswear and athletic attire. In 1935 Schiaparelli moved to a salon overlooking the Place Vendôme in Paris.
• • In addition to apparel, Schiaparelli designed a number of perfumes. The first and best known — — Shocking — — was created in 1936. Shocking is famous less for the fragrance itself than for its packaging: inside a shocking pink box, the bottle was shaped like a woman's torso — — and based on the curvaceous body of one of Schiaparelli's clients, film star Mae West. For Mae West, Schiaparelli designed costumes for the film "Every Day's a Holiday."
• • Released in 1938, "Every Day’s a Holiday" was Mae's most expensive film to date. Its lavish recreation of 1890s New York was the setting for Mae's character — — charming blonde con artist Peaches O’Day — — who sells the Brooklyn Bridge to the gullible. After an enforced departure, Peaches O'Day returns disguised as a chic brunette Mademoiselle Fifi, draped in splendid Schiaparelli gowns.
• • In September, Let's Remember Paul Harvey • •
• • Versatile actor Paul Harvey hailed from Sandwich, Illinois where he was born during the month of September — — on 10 September 1882. The dapper six-foot-two leading man enjoyed success on Broadway, creating several memorable roles from 1916 — 1933. When he went out to Hollywood, he was cast in nearly 180 motion pictures. Fans will remember him as Donovan in "Goin' to Town" [1935].
• • Paul Harvey died at age 73 due to a coronary thrombosis on 5 December 1955 in Los Angeles, California.

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