Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mae West: Miles of Smiles

• • Come Up Sometime in The New Year • •
• • To the loyal followers of the MAE WEST BLOG, as well as all the wonderful "drive by" readers, may you ring in the year 2012 with an abundance of joy and high spirits, and may every day be meaningful and well-spent.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "So far as plots are concerned, I have gathered them by the hundreds in my years of stage experience. The rule that 'the plot is the thing' still holds good. As particular as I am with selection of characters and their dialogue, I realize that the story must hold together. It must build and never let down."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema focused on Mae West.
• • "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." — — Mae West on her signature look.
• • Cynthia Robins wrote: As movie goddesses go, Mae West was not your typical soigne swan. But her image was so unforgettable and her movies so profitable, it has been said, rightly or wrongly, that she saved Paramount Studio. Born in 1893, she was 5 when she started in vaudeville and was a fairly creaky 38 when she came to Hollywood to star with George Raft in "Night After Night." . . .
• • Cynthia Robins gave this background: With the development of Panchromatic film, moviemakers reveled in high- contrast black-and-white images. Clothing was satiny and body-hugging, betraying more secrets of the breasts and hips of its stars than pre-Code Hollywood's access to acres of bare skin. Max Factor and the Westmore Brothers perfected makeup that obliterated all flaws and made faces, 40 feet high on screen, look as if they'd been airbrushed. Lips were so deep red, they were black; eyebrows were plucked to within a hair's breadth, giving the face the ironic attitude of the upper-class British snob (Merle Oberon and Norma Shearer) or wiseacre babe (Carole Lombard and Jean Harlow) who could archly levitate herself in and out of screwball situations.
• • Cynthia Robins continued: The one who didn't fit was Mae West, perhaps the exception who proved the rule. While she had been a major vaudeville and stage presence, writing her own provocatively titled plays ("Sex" caused a scandal in 1927, and "Diamond Lil" in 1928 cemented her bawdy lady image), when she came to Hollywood she wasn't slim and slinky like Marlene Dietrich, nor was she heart-stoppingly gorgeous like Greta Garbo. In fact, she had rather short, plump legs, a thick middle that had to be manipulated by boned corsets — — while all of her sisters in silk eschewed underwear entirely — — and a chest less than voluptuous, even if her support system pulled, pushed and elevated it to mythic status.
• • Cynthia Robins added: Mae West was smart enough to take the elements of 1930s glamour queen style — — the satin clothes, the platinum hair of Harlow, the superciliously thin, highly arched brow of Dietrich, the boop-a-doop mouth of Clara Bow — — and tweak them into caricature. When Harlow became the Platinum Blonde in 1931, Mae soon followed suit in 1932's "Night After Night" (and about which it was said she stole everything but the cameras) and 1933's "She Done Him Wrong." When Dietrich plucked her brows into virtual flea circus tightropes, Mae's own brows thinned appreciably. In fact, nobody's hair was blonder, no one's face reflected more irony, and nobody's mouth was wiser. . . .
• • Source: Article: "The Secret to Mae West's Style" written by Cynthia Robins, San Francisco Chronicle Beauty Writer for The San Francisco Chronicle; published on 15 April 2001
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2162nd blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • "Every Day's a Holiday" in 1937 • •
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Friday, December 30, 2011

Mae West: Rehearsal at Pabst

Bandleader and pianist Vincent Lopez was hired to play music at Pabst, where he used to watch MAE WEST run through her routines with Harry Richman in 1922.
• • Born in Brooklyn at the end of December, and raised by his Portuguese immigrant parents, Vincent Lopez [30 December 1895 — 20 September 1975] would be leading his own band in Manhattan by 1917 and, eventually, having his own radio show. However, like many young musicians, he occasionally lost jobs and faced hardships and uncertainty. One day he'd be wearing a new tux and booked at a luxurious supper club like Minden's, and the next day he'd be pounding the pavement and forced to tickle the ivories at a dive where gangsters partied after hours.
• • Vincent Lopez met Mae West in the basement of Pabst Hotel, a sleazy joint in the Times Square area that catered to career criminals — — "an awful comedown from Mike Minden's," he admitted. Writing about the hoodlum manager of this mobster hang-out, Lopez recalled: "Frank Zagarino was a man you could never forget. Short, swarthy, and heavy-set, he looked like the classical extrovert, but inwardly he craved the approval of others. He sought it by flashing diamonds. The night I started in his employ at Pabst's, he accented his instructions with diamond flashes from his gesturing hands. ..."
• • In need of a steady job to support himself and his wife, Lopez played by Frank Zagarino's rules, not especially pleased with his situation but delighted whenever he could spend time with the other vaudevillians who dropped by such as Jimmy Durante.
• • Vincent Lopez continued: "I think it was because it was so quiet that Mae West and her pianist, Harry Richman, chose the place for their rehearsals. The only piece of music they ever used having the slightest connection with the Charles K. Harris office was a novelty titled 'Everybody Shimmies Now.' Joe Gold (the other pianist in the Harris office and who later worked for me) wrote it. When he mentioned it to Miss West as she was leaving the place one afternoon, she thought it over and said, 'Okay, Joe. Keep it handy. I'll come up to see you some time' . . ."
• • Officer John West, walking the beat . . . • •
• • While working in Coney Island, Vincent Lopez encountered Mae's father in uniform: "I made friends with the cop on the beat who pointed out the historical sights of Coney to me. One of them was Norton's Point, the site of a lighthouse that was to make bigger history." He relayed the story: "There's a wireless station out there now," West told me. "A feller named David Sarnoff started it, and that's where he picked up the news that the Titanic was sinking. They say he's playing around with a new gadget called radio that carries the human voice. Probably just a fad, but you can never tell." "Say, Mr. West," I wondered, "You mentioned that your daughter is in show business. What name does she use?" "What name would she use but her right one, Mae West. Remember it. She'll be famous some day." Officer West was delighted to know I'd already met his daughter and that I agreed with his forecast on her future. ..."
• • Source: "Lopez Speaking: My Life and How I Changed It" a memoir written by Vincent Lopez [N.Y.: Citadel Press, 1960]
• • Mae West, author, loses her pianist," noted Variety on 8 September 1922.
• • In December, Let's Remember Leo Tover [1902 — 1964] • •
• • Mention "I'm No Angel," the classic screen comedy written by and starring Mae West, and many fans will recall the Paramount Pictures team behind the scenes including the director Wesley Ruggles — — but let's not forget Leopold.
• • Born in New Haven, Connecticut in the month of December, Leo Tover, A.S.C. [6 December 1902 — 30 December 1964] was a cinematographer and twice nominated for Academy Awards for his work on "The Heiress" (1949) and "Hold Back the Dawn" (1941). Among his other credits are "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Payment on Demand," both released in 1951.
• • Leopold Tover started working as a cinematographer in 1928 when he was 26 years old and cinema was a fresh field of endeavor. Perhaps you already know that a cinematographer is the one photographing with a motion picture camera. The title is generally equivalent to director of photography (DP), used to designate a chief over the camera and lighting crews working on a film, responsible for achieving artistic and technical decisions related to the image. In 1933, it was Leo Tover who gave "I'm No Angel" its intriguing visual Art Deco flair.
• • After a long, successful period in Hollywood, Tover died in Los Angeles, California during late December — — on 30 December 1964. Tover was 62.
• • On Monday, 30 December 1912 in Union Square • •
• • 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 Monday evening, 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 an article — — "SUFFRAGE ACT IN VAUDEVILLE; With Singing Judge and Attorneys and a Jury Chorus All Feminine" — — published the next day on 31 December 1912 in The New York Times, the man on the aisle wrote this: 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.
• • On Saturday, 30 December 1933 in Picturegoer • •
• • Picturegoer, a British publication sold in movie houses, ran a three part series: "Making Love to Mae West." The first installment ran on 10 December 1933, it continued on 30 December 1993, and the final portion appeared on 6 January 1934.
• • And the byline? Cary Grant either wrote it or (perhaps) merely signed it, likely the latter. Her handsome co-star informed the public: "I have never worked with anyone who has as much 'she' as Mae West." Though he emphasized that neither one was in love with the other, Mae was "extremely helpful" during the seductive or romantic moments the plot called for. English fans may have been surprised to know that parts of their love scenes were shot separately, with Mae making eyes, actually, at the cameraman instead of her leading man. Or Cary delivering his affectionate remarks to a script girl as he was filmed alone. They were only filmed together when the script called for them to embrace and touch. "Mae West has taught all these other actresses in Hollywood how to act," noted Cary Grant, who was paired with her in two box office successes.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I'm not good at riddles. I ought to know if I was ever married or not."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about Route 66 mentioned Mae West.
• • One Englishman was delighted to discover Mae had bedded down in New Mexico.
• • "Route 66," rhapsodizes the British journalist Owen Adams, "just like the song says, winds from Chicago to LA, more than 2,000 miles all the way. And you can still find classic rock ’n’ roll blasting from Wurlitzer jukeboxes in neon-lit diners, drive-ins and roadhouses."
• • Shortly after reaching Route 66’s mid-point, Mr. Adams watched as his American tour bus crossed from Texas to New Mexico — — and encountered a double dose of WEST.
• • According to Owen Adams, "Soon we reached Gallup, location for countless old Western movies. The Hotel El Rancho is where everyone from Mae West and Doris Day to Errol Flynn and Burt Lancaster stayed, and it has been lovingly restored with signed photographs of the stars lining the walls. The Cosmos tour makes an irresistible diversion from the old Route 66 to take in the Grand Canyon in Arizona — — just as spectacular as it appears in all the photographs and films. ..."
• • The Hotel El Rancho is located here: 1000 E Highway 66, Gallup, NM 87301. They claim to remember which room was Mae's so ask the front desk clerk.
• • Source: Article: "Getting my kicks down on Route 66" written by Owen Adams for Western Daily Press [Bristol, UK]; published on 17 November 2007; reprinted in the UK's Sunday Mirror on 30 December 2007
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2161st blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1932 • •
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mae West: Divorce Drama

During a well-documented divorce drama in 1935, Frank Wallace's lawyers claimed that the vaudeville hoofer was living, as man and wife, with MAE WEST from the time of their Milwaukee wedding on 11 April 1911 until 14 March 1914.
• • In late December of 1914, the readers of Variety could not help but notice the ornate half-page advertisement for dashing Guido Deiro — — "The Master of the Piano Accordion, The Incomparable in His Line" (on the left, seated and displaying his accordion) — — and Mae West — — "The Original Brinkley Girl, A Style All Her Own" (on the right, wearing a lovely gown) who were "Engaged Jointly as Headline Features." As Mae-mavens know, Guido and Mae were not merely "engaged jointly" but in fact engaged to be wed by March 1914, and a married couple before Christmas came that year. Without dissolving her first legal union, the Brooklyn bombshell had said "I do!" a second time.
• • Sadly, on 14 July 1920, Mae West filed for a divorce from Guido Deiro [1886 — 1950], charging him with abandonment. Having moved back with her parents in Queens, Mae filed her petition at the local courthouse in Jamaica.
• • When their divorce became final on 9 November 1920, 34-year-old Guido quickly wed his third wife, singer Ruby Lang, 28 years old. Born in May 1892, Ruby was 15 months older than Mae and had a 3-year-old son with a former mate.
• • Suddenly, One Saturday in 1914 . . . • •
• • Saturday, 14 March 1914 — — who knows why Frank Wallace decided to tell the judge that's when Mae left but it was an outright lie. He, too, had wed again, and he really had no idea how many men Mae had been dating after parting in 1911. All he knew was that a marriage license had surfaced, and that she was a wealthy movie star now, whereas he was an unemployed opportunist in need of a windfall. The nerve of that worm!
• • Luckily for Mae, she dodged the public airing of being a bigamist and other dirty laundry. Neither the name of Guido Deiro nor her six years of conjugal bliss with the Italian accordionist surfaced during the 1930s media circus. And the man Frank Wallace threatened to sue on the charges of "alienation of affection" was not the trim, good-looking Guido but instead Mae's overweight manager Jim Timony. Meanwhile, in 1935 Beverly was kept busy answering questions posed by news reporters, to whom she swore that her sister was a spinster who had always been single.
• • And, yes, Mae had many chances to tell tall tales to the tabloids. "I had obligations to my mother," she told a journalist, explaining that marriage was impossible for a girl with obligations to her Mom. "I couldn't let anything interfere with them while she was alive, and I never discussed them. Well, she's gone now."
• • To another gossip columnist, Mae insisted, "I never found anyone I liked well enough [to marry]. I might have, I suppose, if things had been a little different in my set-up. But I didn't."
• • For awhile, Mae protested that she didn't even know this bald, skinny New Yorker whose stage name was Frank Wallace. She denied setting foot in Wisconsin when she toured in vaudeville and also insisted she never performed with him in Milwaukee during 1911. But "A Florida Enchantment" at the Gayety had received good notices and Wisconsin theatrical managers remembered her. And Gayety had preserved their press notices, too.
• • Between the Hollywood censors and a barrage of bad publicity, thanks to greedy Frank Wallace, Mae had a great deal to cope with seventy-six years ago. And she came through.
• • On Sunday, 29 December 1912 • •
• • In the 1890s, Albee and Keith opened the Union Square Theatre in New York City, where Mae West performed on Sunday, 29 December 1912. She was also booked into several other houses controlled by B.F. Keith.
• • During 1912 — 1913, when the Brooklyn comedienne was occasionally promoted as "The Nell Brinkley Girl," or the "scintillating singing comedienne," or "the firefly of Broadway," she was a fresh-faced brunette teenager with a reputation for fast tap dancing and acrobatic feats onstage combined with "character" [novelty] songs. Unlike others who had honed one act to offer the public, Mae was always trying out fresh approaches and buying new material and costumes.
• • In the Sunday morning newspapers on 29 December 1912, readers noticed that B.F. Keith was offering "Dinkelspiel's Christmas" along with "MAY WEST — singing comedienne" [yes, the newspaper spelled it "MAY WEST" in their 29 Dec 1912 ad].
• • The 14th Street theatre is, alas, long gone but we can only imagine how much fun we missed since we were not around to dial STuyvesant 3400 to reserve a ticket.
• • On 29 December 2000 in The N.Y. Times • •
• • Sarah Kershaw wrote an interesting article about a graveyard Galahad in the borough of Queens, where Mae West has her vault
— — "Protector of the Long Departed; Historian Restores Early Burial Plots in Queens" — — in which she introduced Dr. Stanley Cogan: After a decade of digging through old graveyards in Queens, piecing together crumbling tombstones and peering at fieldstones scrawled with faded letters, Stanley Cogan has developed a sense of humor about his obsession with the departed. ''They call me the Head Stone,'' said Dr. Cogan, a retired teacher and assistant principal who is now president of the Queens Historical Society. In a reference to how much time he spends on hallowed ground, he refers to his wife, Lee, as a ''cemetery widow.''
• • Sarah Kershaw continued: Queens is cemetery central: more than five million people -- almost triple the live population — — lie beneath the borough's soil in dozens of cemeteries. Many are buried in vast and visible graveyards that stretch for miles along major roadways, their tombstones rising from the landscape in a sea of marble and stone. Mae West is buried there. So are Jackie Robinson, Robert F. Wagner, and Lucky Luciano. ...
• • Art Auction on 29 December 2002 • •
• • Outer Cape Art Auctions in Provincetown, Mass. posted their results for their December 29th, 2002 auction, which included a drawing of Mae West as she looked in costume as Diamond Lil during the revival of her famous show on Broadway in 1949.
• • Al Hirschfeld: This a-MAE-zing etching was appraised in 2001 for $6,000.00 — — "Mae West" [etching # 51 of 150, 14.5 x 19, SLR] — — UNSOLD.
• • Mae's Inspiration: Civil War Quotes • •
• • Abraham Lincoln said: "And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
• • Mae West said: "It's not the men in my life — — it's the life in my men."
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I'd rather be looked over than overlooked."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about Roman Catholics mentioned Mae West.
• • Greg Craven writes: Judging by the fulminations in Sydney against World Youth Day, Benedict XVI may soon become the first pontiff in living memory to paraphrase Mae West. "Is that bigotry in your pocket, or are you just not glad to see me?" ...
• • Source: Article: "An Excuse To Bash The Catholic Church" written by Greg Craven, a leading constitutional lawyer and vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, for The Age; posted on Saturday, 12 July 2008
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2160th blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1936 • •
• • Feed — —
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mae West: Harry Woods

In "Belle of the Nineties" [1934], MAE WEST worked briefly with Harry Woods who was cast as the character Slade.
• • Born in Cleveland, Ohio on 5 May 1889, Harry Lewis Woods chose to make a living, at first, by selling millinery to ladies who tried on these fanciful creations in front of a mirror. By 1923, the 34-year-old would find his true calling in front of a camera.
• • During the silent era, he appeared in several Westerns. In 1926, however, he was cast as the jealous bridegroom Norman Blood in a 60-minute comedy "A Trip to Chinatown" [released in June 1926 by Fox Film Corporation]. The play that this silent movie is based on was one of the biggest Broadway successes of its time, and is best remembered for turning the Charles Harris song "After the Ball" into a smash hit in the 1890s.
• • Still capitalizing on the "Trip to Chinatown" craze, clever showmen reworked the play once again and presented it at the Moulin Rouge under a new title: "A Winsome Widow." Nineteen-year-old brunette Mae West was featured in the show "A Winsome Widow" as La Petite Daffy in 1912.
• • Harry Woods swiftly transitioned into talkies and his intimidating scowl, imposing build, snarling voice, and tough-customer persona became somewhat of a calling card in Tinseltown. Roy Barcroft, a most memorable heavy in numerous Republic Pictures adventure dramas, serials, and cowboy capers, once told a reporter: "Everything I know about being a bad guy I learned from Harry Woods."
• • "Send in Slade or Dirk or anybody!" — — "Belle of the Nineties"
• • Between 1923 — 1961, Harry Woods racked up over 250 credits in Hollywood features. More often than not, Woods was cast in Westerns during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s as well as crime dramas. In 1953 he made his television debut in "The Lone Ranger," "The Adventures of Kit Carson," and then "Ramar of the Jungle." He guest starred on several TV series with a boots and saddle flavor such as "Broken Arrow," "Frontier Doctor," "Gunsmoke," and "Lawman." He had a continuing role as Doc Cunningham on "Tombstone Territory" and appeared twice on "Bat Masterson," a quirky TV series [1958 — 1961] starring Gene Barry as a dandified gambler and lawman. Gene Barry had worked with Mae West on Broadway in "Catherine Was Great."
• • Harry Woods was active on the small screen until 1961 and died in Los Angeles of uremia in the month of December — — on 28 December 1968. He was age 79.
• • In December, Let's Remember Kathleen Clifford [1887 — 1962] • •
• • Born in Charlottesville, Virginia on 16 February 1887, Kathleen Clifford was an American vaudeville and Broadway stage and film actress of the early twentieth century.
• • As with "Baby Mae," Kathleen Clifford's career acting was initially built on the vaudeville stages as a comedienne. Renowned for her impersonations of men, Kathleen Clifford was often humorously billed as "The Smartest Chap in Town."
• • In 1912, a large cast was hired for the Florenz Ziegfeld musical production "A Winsome Widow" [staged on Broadway from April — September 1912]. Kathleen Clifford was hired to play a male role: Willie Grow. Mae West won acclaim as La Petite Daffy in the same production.
• • Miss Clifford died
in the month of December — — on 28 December 1962. She was 75.
• • In December, Let's Remember Jerry Orbach [1935 — 2004] • •
• • In Manhattan, a stretch of West 53rd Street at Eighth Avenue has been renamed for the six-foot-two actor who was respected on Broadway, on the silver screen, and on the tube. Like Mae, Jerry was a native New Yorker — — and his widow, Elaine Orbach, unveiled the new street sign in his hometown on Monday 17 September 2007.
• • Jerome Bernard Orbach was born in the Bronx [on 20 October 1935] to a Polish Catholic mother from Pennsylvania and a German Jewish father whose ancestry was Spanish Sephardic.
• • In 1952, the 17-year-old had just graduated from high school when he appeared in summer stock at the Chevy Chase Playhouse in Wheeling, Illinois. Orbach's first troupe mates were Mae West, Vincent Price, and John Ireland.
• • In 1960, he created the role of El Gallo in "The Fantasticks,'' singing the catchy theme song "Try to Remember [That Time in September]'' that opened this off-Broadway musical, which ran for 40 years at the Sullivan Street Playhouse.
• • For awhile, when in need of a job, Orbach worked as a chauffeur for Mae West in Hollywood.
• • After a long battle with prostate cancer, Jerry Orbach died in Manhattan in the month of December — — on 28 December 2004. He was 69.
• • On 28 December 1919 on Broadway • •
• • It was 28 December 1919 and Mae West was very busy in Manhattan — — double-booked, in fact.
• • The 26-year-old "firefly of vaudeville" was appearing that night at the Lyric Theatre [on 42nd Street, west of Broadway]. Sharing the Lyric bill with her were these entertainers: Eugene and Willie, the Howard Brothers; Carl McCullough; the 4 Haley Sisters; and "8 other favorite acts."
• • On the same night, Mae West performed at the 44th Street Theatre [near Broadway]. On the program was the top-billed act — — Sophie Tucker and Her Kings of Syncopation — — along with Ames & Winthrop, Mae West, Riggs & Witchie, and "8 other favorite acts."
• • On 28 December 1997 in Chicago Tribune • •
• • In his article for the Chicago Tribune, "Mae West Was Best Of Bad Girls," published on 28 December 1997, reporter Glen Elsasser wrote: Her quips, backed by the full-figured image, somehow manage to survive our throwaway culture. She was, after all, the progenitor of so many memorable lines. "Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?'' she famously teased a movie gangster (sic). Among her other well-traveled remarks, obviously intended to promote her reputation as a woman of the world, are such quotables as:
• • • "When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.''
• • • "When women go wrong, men go right after them.''
• • • "Between two evils, I always picked the one I never tried before.''
• • • "Come up and see me sometime.''
• • Glen Elsasser continued: Mae West died at age 87 in 1980, after a career unique in the annals of show business. But her surreal charm as queen of the double entendre endures. Time has been kind and spun her life story and oeuvre into an icon
— — the subject of a nonstop flow of books, articles, and scholarly studies.
• • "Part of her appeal is she's funny,'' said Emily Wortis Leider, her latest biographer. Leider's new book, Becoming Mae West (Farrar Straus Giroux), chronicles the formative and little-known years of the actress' early life.
• • "I think she appeals to feminists, although I don't think she was a feminist by any standard and didn't like other women,'' Emily Wortis Leider added. "She's so powerful on the screen, always the focal point and always bigger than anyone else.'' ...
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "In an Ed Wynn show, I did a shimmy. But never, never did I do the shimmy shewabble!''
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about a new Broadway play had mentioned Mae West.
• • William Safire wrote: Why is this subject fit for the op-ed page? Because I interviewed the real Mae West, boys, before she had a wrinkle on her face, and well remember the lesson she taught a cub reporter about living up to a legend.
• • William Safire explained: It was 1949; she was in her late 50s, starring on Broadway in Diamond Lil. Her leading man was not her film discovery Cary Grant, to whom she had famously vamped "Come up and see me sometime,'' but the actor who also played Captain Video on small-screen television.
• • William Safire continued (from here until the end): My boss at The New York Herald Tribune, the columnist Tex McCrary, thought it would be a kick to send a 19-year-old kid to interview the sex goddess. I was ushered into the ornate hotel suite by her maid, who I presume was named Beulah and could peel grapes.
• • Mae West, from her reclining position on a chaise longue, looked up at me with an expression of "Have I sunk to this? They're sending the office boy?'' Worse, my first question was painfully puerile: What was it like to play opposite the hero of thousands of kids, Captain Video? She thought about that. Then, coming to a decision, she changed her expression. Batting those long false eyelashes, she looked at the ceiling and murmured, "Mmmm ... suppose you ask Captain Video ... mmmm ... how does it feel to play opposite ... Mae West!''
• • She had caught the editor's angle, as I had not: Send an innocent to the symbol of sin. She would play along for publicity's sake, presuming her persona would sell more tickets than her person.
• • I asked why she had turned to her first director, Edward Elsner, to stage her shocking Sex; he was famed for directing the actress Maude Adams, no sex symbol.
• • "I wanted a director that wasn't too young, one that knew all the old tricks, because ... mmmm ... I knew all the new ones. The first man I went to said I didn't stick to a formula. He wasn't my man. The second guy just sputtered that my play was immoral and salacious. He wasn't my man, either. ..."
• • Source: Article: "I Remember Mae West" written by William Safire for The N.Y. Times; posted on 23 May 2000
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2159th blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
Add to Google
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1934 • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mae West: Oscar Levant

Oscar Levant's scatological comments and controversial wisecracks about MAE WEST's sex life got his talk show cancelled for good in 1960. Unrestrained witticisms had gotten him in trouble before on the air, therefore, the network decided to add a safety net by taping the syndicated "Oscar Levant Show," to enable the engineers to weed out the outrageous. Probably aware that his shocking off-the-cuff opinions were the very reason viewers tuned in from 1958 1960 to his 10 PM program, Oscar continued to riff on Mae's enema habits or speculate on her lovers and her bi-racial open-door policy.
• • One individual claimed to recall a few of Oscar's offensive one-liners: "Now that Marilyn Monroe has converted to Judaism, Arthur Miller can eat her!"; "Zsa Zsa Gabor is busy again, doing social work among the rich!"; and "Mae West, of course, is a pro's pro. Mae would never give it away!" — — and one final crack about Mae's bed partners got the TV executives to pull the plug.
• • Born into a musical and Orthodox Jewish Russian family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the month of December — — on 27 December 1906 — — Oscar Levant moved to New York with his mother, Annie, in 1922 after the death of his father, Max. Oscar Levant gained fame as an American pianist, composer, author, humorist, and actor. He was equally known for his mordant character, off-color observations, and unpredictable digs on the air as for his music. Frequently institutionalized by his wife June, Levant had the knack of making an audience laugh and feel very uncomfortable at the same time.
• • A fatal heart attack stilled the voice of Oscar Levant. He died in Beverly Hills, California on 14 August 1972, and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. He was 65.
• • In December, Let's Remember Louis Bromfield [1896 — 1956] • •
• • Born Lewis Brumfield in Ohio in the month of December — — on 27 December 1896 — — the 6' 2" inch journalist won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Early Autumn [1926], and then turned to writing fulltime. His short story "Single Night" (set in Larry Fay's Napoleon Club) became the backbone of the Paramount film "Night After Night" [released on 30 October 1932]. Two months after the film was distributed to moviehouses across the country, bootlegger Larry Fay met a spectacularly crimson-soaked death inside the Napoleon Club, 33 West 56th Street, on 1 January 1933.
• • Author and farmer Louis Bromfield had a more serene death, at age 60, on 18 March 1956.

• • In December, Let's Remember Sam Coslow [1902 — 1982] • •
• • Born in Mae's hometown, New York City, Sam Coslow was born in December — — on 27 December 1902. He attended Erasmus Hall High School and he was still in his teens when he began writing songs. For instance, "My Old Flame" was written in 1934, with Arthur Johnston, for the Mae West film "Belle of the Nineties." His music made it into many Hollywood movies.
• • The composer died in New York, NY on 2 April 1982.
• • In December, Let's Remember Marlene Dietrich [1901 — 1992] • •
• • When Mae West was starring in "My Little Chickadee," a comedy set in the old West, Universal Pictures was also producing a Western-themed musical comedy "Destry Rides Again" [which debuted in New York on 30 November 1939]. Though the title would seem to be weighted in the direction of two actors — — James Stewart in the title role as Tom Destry, Jr. and Charles Winninger as his deputy Washington Dimsdale — — Dietrich owns the movie. This vehicle became a career reviving performance for the fishnet stockinged bar singer Frenchie, sexy and memorable despite wearing a truly hideous wig.
• • Born in Germany in the month of December — — on 27 December 1901 — — Marlene Dietrich was an actress and a singer who knew Mae West when they were both stars at Paramount Pictures.
• • The screen queens were photographed on the set of "My Little Chickadee" in 1939. Dietrich was posing in her Frenchie costume and Mae was made up as Flower Belle Lee.
• • Marlene Dietrich died in Paris of natural causes on 6 May 1992.
• • On 27 December 2002 in Chicago Tribune • •
• • Chicago Tribune readers spotted "The Party Continues" written by Nancy Maes as they ploughed through the newspaper on 27 December 2002.
• • Nancy Maes wrote: The theme of the next round classic Hollywood films in the Lunchtime Matinee series is "The Party Continues." It includes "Top Hat," (1935) starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (Monday); "Holiday" (1938) with Katharine Hepburn (the name as published has been corrected in this text), Thursday; and "My Little Chickadee," (1940) featuring Mae West and W.C. Fields. The series complements the "Matinee Idols and Movie Queens," exhibition at the Chicago Tourism Center. Lunchtime Matinee, all films at noon, Chicago Tourism Center, 72 E. Randolph St., free.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "You're never too old to become younger."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article on John Kobal and "Made in Hollywood" mentioned Mae West.
• • Philippa Hawker wrote: While John Kobal was an avid collector, he was scrupulous about standards: he had a critical eye, Crocker says, and the images he amassed were of the best quality. The collection soon became an important resource and archive for historians, scholars and filmmakers. Andy Warhol
always an ardent admirer of the old Hollywood was among those who drew on Kobal's images.
• • Philippa Hawker continued: John Kobal's interest was first in the photographs, then in the photographers themselves. He was on the set of "Myra Breckenridge," the notorious 1970 vehicle for an older Mae West. A photographer named George Hurrell, who first worked for MGM in 1930, was on set to take pictures of Mae West. Kobal was amazed to discover that the man whose images he admired was there, in front of him, still at work. ...
• • "Made in Hollywood" is at the Bendigo Art Gallery (Australia) from 3 December 2011 to 12 February 2012 . . .
• • Source: Article: "Made in Hollywood" written by Philippa Hawker for the Sydney Morning Herald; posted on 19 November 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2158th blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1932 • •
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