It was 1912 when MAE WEST got her first major vaudeville break: a spot on the bill at Hammerstein's Victoria in mid-May. At last the scintillating singing comedienne could demonstrate that she was in a league with the top-tiered headliners often billed at "The Corner" such as Eva Tanguay, Sophie Tucker, Fanny Brice, Nora Bayes, and other notables.
• • Mae was close to her 19th birthday when she was invited back by Hammerstein for a weeklong booking that began on 6 August 1912. She shared the stagebill with several acts — — including Fields and Carroll.
• • Mae West heard Fields and Carroll perform their jaunty rag "On the Mississippi" — — about 99 years ago on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street. Then "Mae West and Her Boys" sang a few rags and played the bones, minstrel style. Variety slammed their routine, suggesting she return to burlesque since she lacked the refinement necessary for top-drawer vaudeville. Instead Mae once again became a solo act, purchased new material, and kept on trouping.
• • Half of the team was Arthur Fields [born on 6 August 1888] who hailed from Philadelphia, where he started out in life as Abe Finkelstein — — and who toured for years with Harry Carroll. Arthur Fields was just 11 years old when he turned pro, booking singing engagements in Utica, New York and then branching out to Coney Island. Around 1908 the ambitious baritone toured with Guy Brother's Minstrel Show, and helped assemble a vaudeville novelty "Weston, Fields, and Carroll." Four years later, the partnership had been paired down to Fields and Carroll. Arthur Fields had his first hit as a songwriter with "On the Mississippi" (1912); he had composed this ragtime music with Harry Carroll, but Ballard MacDonald supplied the lyrics.
• • When his wife's health necessitated a move from New York to Florida, the couple relocated to the sunbelt and settled in Hollywood in 1946. The tireless entertainer snagged his own radio gig over WKAT, Miami: "The Arthur Fields Program. "
• • Sadly, in March 1953, he had a stroke and went under the care of the Littlefield Convalescent Home in Largo, Florida. Most unfortunately, the institution had a fire, which ended his life at the end of March — — on 29 March 1953. He was 64 years old.
• • 29 March 1936 • •
• • "Has Mae West Done Herself Wrong?" was the intriguing headline teasing readers of the Atlanta Journal Magazine on 29 March 1936. The byline went to Frank Daniel. Congressional hearings being conducted in February and March 1936 by the U.S. Senate were peppered with the name of Mae West, whose new motion picture "Klondike Annie" caused a lot of concern on Capitol Hill. Ramona Curry has written well-researched articles on this topic of how censorship tightened its noose around Mae's neck.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • UK reporter Gavanndra Hodge writes: Georgia May Jagger loves Mae West films and the deep-fried food of her mother's Southern homeland, and likes reading rock biographies. At the moment it is the Patti Smith memoir "Just Kids," which details the New York punk's doomed friendship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. ...
• • Source: Article: "Georgia May Jagger on her rock 'n' roll life" written by Gavanndra Hodge for The London Evening Standard; posted on 25 March 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 1883rd 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: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1912 • •
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