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.
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