Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mae West: A Jury Chorus

Despite all of the good books written about MAE WEST — — many quoting the reviews she received in Variety, The New York Dramatic Mirror, etc. — — a few paragraphs of praise have escaped notice. That's one reason it's important to blog (and blither and blather) about the ever-fascinatin' Brooklyn bombshell.
• • On 30 December 1912 the singing comedienne was giving a double performance at 7:30 PM and at 11:00 PM at B.F. Keith's Union Square Theatre on Fourteenth Street. Featured on the bill, along with the 19-year-old hopeful, was a great deal of variety. Britain's Laddie Cliff offered new songs and eccentric dances; Phina and company entertained; Alfredo (wandering wizard of the violin) played; Asaki presented his juggling act, so popular in Japan; and gymnasts Lydia and Albino did . . . something.
• • According to The New York Times reviewer: Suffrage is having its day at Keith's Union Square Theatre this week in a musical feature which brings Gilbert and Sullivan's "Trial by Jury" within the limits of a vaudeville act and makes it a trial wholly feminine. Singing girl attorneys prosecute the defendant for breach of promise and plead on his behalf, a contralto Judge charges the jury, and the lady jury itself is the chorus. "Court by Girls" the skit is called. It was received with great approval . . .
• • The Times critic added: Mae West, who last appeared in "The Winsome Widow," made her debut [sic] as a vaudeville singer in songs and impersonations which won the applause of a crowded house.
• • Always observing other vaudevillians to see what she could learn, Mae probably kept her eye on "England's Clever Boy Comedian" whose stage name was Laddie Cliff. Born in the UK on 3 September 1891, the trouper was 21 when he met Miss West. His career, unfortunately, was cut short. Laddie Cliff died at age 46 during December 1937. If you know what he died of, take a moment to write in.
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "SUFFRAGE ACT IN VAUDEVILLE; With Singing Judge and Attorneys and a Jury Chorus All Feminine"
• • Published by: The New York Times
• • Published on: 31 December 1912
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West at 19 years old • • 1912 • •
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