Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mae West: Eugene O'Neill

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 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.
• • Born during the month of October, Eugene O'Neill started his life in a Broadway (New York City) hotel room in Times Square. The site is now a Starbucks (1500 Broadway, Northeast corner of West 43rd & Broadway). A commemorative plaque is posted on the outside wall with the inscription: "Eugene O'Neill, October 16, 1888 — November 27, 1953 America's greatest playwright was born on this site then called Barrett Hotel, Presented by Circle in the Square."
• • During the 1910s, Eugene O'Neill was a regular on the Greenwich Village literary scene, where he also befriended many radicals, most notably Communist Labor Party founder John Reed.
• • "The Hairy Ape" is an expressionist play by Eugene O'Neill (1922), and this was the drama being mocked in Mae's song. "Lemme up! I'll show ya who's an ape!" Imagine it, if you will.
• • O'Neill's involvement with the Provincetown Players began in mid-1916. Four years later, his first published play, "Beyond the Horizon," opened on Broadway in 1920 to great acclaim, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. O'Neill also received the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his writing. Then in 1936 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Despite this outstanding acclaim, however, his portraits invariably show the unsmiling author with the most miserable expression.
• • Across the street from O'Neill's birthplace, Paramount Pictures established their iconic headquarters at 1501 Broadway and debuted many Mae West motion pictures in their street-level theatre during the 1930s.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Eugene O'Neill in 1931 • •
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Mae West.

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