Friday, April 22, 2011

Mae West: Lil Tilts at the Law

On 22 April 1928, The New York Times was purring about MAE WEST. On the theatre page was an announcement that "Diamond Lil" was the most prosperous of all the recent stage productions. Broadway backers paid attention, noticing that Mae had given the Royale Theatre its first hit — — a non-musical, no less.
• • How do you think Mae would feel if she saw this sign hanging over a bar in Big Bear City, California?
• • Protective of the play and the "Queen of the Bowery" prototype she created, Mae took people to court to try to prevent any other actress from styling herself as Diamond Lil. In 1959 and 1960, for instance, Mae was suing Marie Lind, who was billing herself under the audacious stage name
"The One and Only Diamond Lil" — — which offended and outraged Mae.
• • West v. Lind [186 Cal. App. 2d 563] • •
• • This is an appeal from an order denying a preliminary injunction sought by the appellant, Mae West, to restrain the respondent, Marie Lind, from using the name "Diamond Lil" and the respondent, Gay 90's, a corporation, from billing and advertising the respondent, Marie Lind, as "Diamond Lil" or "The One and Only Diamond Lil." After the hearing on the order to show cause, at which oral and documentary evidence was introduced, the court found that the description "Diamond Lil" involved words of common usage in the public domain, which were not susceptible to appropriation to a given individual, and were not subject to appropriation by the appellant in the manner asserted by the appellant.
• • On appeal, it is argued that the trial court erred in the above mentioned finding and conclusion because: (1) The appellant [Mae West] has stated a cause of action in unfair competition, as the designation "Diamond Lil" has, over a long period of time, been associated exclusively with her; (2) the appellant has created a valuable property right in a character type; and (3) injunctive relief is proper in order to prevent the usurpation of the secondary meaning attained by the name "Diamond Lil" and to prevent the pirating, counterfeiting, and imitation of the character "type" created by the appellant. ...
• • In "My Little Chickadee," the saloon has a door that swings both ways. Civil Court might as well install the same non-discriminating entryway. In 1950, an actress called Sara Allen sued for $1 million, charging Mae West, in verse, no less, for preventing her from getting stage jobs as a 'Diamond Lil' impersonator.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Manohla Dargis writes: These were the other women in women’s pictures: the black cooks, nurses and maids, maids, maids who, breaking out of the margins if only a little, joked with Mae West, fretted about Claudette Colbert and stood by white woman after white woman, scolding them and appealing to their better selves if every so often, like Chico, also playing their laughing co-conspirator. Sometimes they didn’t have names, and they didn’t necessarily make it into the credits. Still, they were there. ...
• • Source: Article: "Just a Maid in Movies, But Not Forgotten" written by Manohla Dargis for The New York Times; posted on 21 April 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 1908th 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:
Source: to Google
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • saloon sign • •• • Feed — —
Mae West.

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