More than anything, variety artist MAE WEST wanted to be "in the legit" — — on The Gay White Way — — and Jesse Lasky gave her an opportunity. The extravaganza, produced by Ned Wayburn, Mae's dancing teacher, was titled "A La Broadway."
• • In 1911, Jesse Lasky opened the Folies-Bergere, a plush dinner theatre restaurant on West 46th Street and he cast a pretty 18-year-old Mae to appear in the revue along with a comedy duo, Cook and Lorenz. Supposedly, these comedians could not master their props in time to accompany her, therefore, Mae was unable to perform her first song, a ballad called "They Are Irish," the way it had been staged originally. But what if the real explanation had to do with racial bias instead? James Cook was black and maybe that's why the producers yanked the team away from sharing a spotlight with Mae.
• • Cook and Lorenz — — who were these vaudevillians anyway?
• • John Lorenz was cast as Nick O'Teene in "A La Broadway." Born in Buffalo, NY on 6 December 1886, his Broadway career began in 1909 when he was attached to a musical comedy "The Motor Girl." After doing several shows, he took his final bows in "Ramshackle Inn," a farce, in 1944.
• • He seems to have teamed up with a mature performer James Cook by 1910 and they actively toured on the vaudeville circuit. Considered to be one of the "monarchs of minstrelsy," James Cook had done a blackface act in 1885 with Rankin's Minstrels. (Blacks were recognized as musicians of talent, due to the popularity of minstrel shows.) Additionally, James Cook was an early member of the White Rats. James Cook was cast as Jim Jamb in "A La Broadway" and he may have been cast in another production on the Gay White Way in 1932.
• • John Lorenz died in Paramus, NJ in the month of April — — on 30 April 1972.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • London-based journalist Michael Petry writes about the Mae West brooch and other gems: Historically, artists have worked with jewellers, too. Yves Tanguy had a pair of miniature-painting earrings made for Peggy Guggenheim, while Georges Braque had some of his paintings turned into jewellery by well-known jeweller Baron Heger de Loewenfeld. Salvador Dali designed several metal pieces based on his paintings and sculptures, including a 1949 ruby-lips brooch modelled on his celebrated Mae West lips sofa. He made the designs on paper, and most of the pieces were produced by the Argentinian silversmith Carlos Alemany. ...
• • Source: Article: "Artisans who turn ideas into art" written by Michael Petry for The Independent (UK); posted on 29 April 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 1916th 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 • • Folies Bergere on West 46th, 1911 • •
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