Mabel Stark was the beautiful blonde wild animal tamer who doubled for MAE WEST during some of the big top scenes in "I'm No Angel" .
• • When Jack West took his young daughter to Bostock's Lions in Coney Island, Mae first became aware of beautiful female trainers such as the fearless trailblazer Marie-Louise Morelli, billed as Queen of the Jaguars. Awed by Madame Morelli's smooth command in the cage of her "treacherous pets," the curly-haired little Brooklynite (born in August under the sign of Leo) decided one day she, too, would come face to face with the King of Beasts.
• • Mabel Stark, whose real name was Mary Haynie, was born in Kentucky on 9 December 1889. In 1922, she joined the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus and performed in Madison Square Garden with snarling tigers and a black panther. By the end of that season, of the six wild animal acts featured with the circus, Mabel Stark's was the most popular and she was featured on a poster with her favorite big cat Rajah. At one point in her career, she would face eighteen snarling beasts in the ring.
• • This colorful circus poster from the 1920s shows Mabel Stark with her beloved Rajah, whom she adopted as a mistreated, sickly cub, and shared her home with.
• • During a photo shoot with Mabel Stark, Mae West was asked if she could see herself trading places with anyone and she said: "Yes, it would be this Mabel Stark, the Tiger Girl!" To which Mabel responded, "Fine with me. I'd love to be Mae West!"
• • Unfortunately, in 1968 her employer Jungleland was sold to a new owner who disliked Mabel Stark and fired her. Soon after she left, one of her tigers escaped and was shot. Stark was angry and hurt about the animal's destruction and felt that she could have safely secured the tiger if the owners had asked for her assistance. Three months later, she killed herself by an overdose of barbiturates.
• • In the last pages of her autobiography, Hold That Tiger, Mabel Stark writes: "The chute door opens as I crack my whip and shout, 'Let them come,' Out slink the striped cats, snarling and roaring, leaping at each other or at me. It's a matchless thrill, and life without it is not worth while to me."
• • At the age of 78, in her home in Thousand Oaks, California, Mabel Stark drew her last breath and left the world in April — — on 20 April 1968.
• • Thursday 20 April 1933 is the birthdate of Monte Landis, an American character actor who had worked with Mae West when he played the role of Vince in "Myra Breckinridge" . We wish the funnyman a Happy Birthday!
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Dr. Birute Regine writes: Some women use the negative gender schemas against them to their advantage. These women play along as if they don’t know what’s going on, when in reality they are five steps ahead of the guys. As Mae West put it, “Brains are an asset, if you hide them.” ...
• • Source: Article: "Why Is It That Women Are Seen As Less Competent?" written by Birute Regine, Ed.D. for Forbes Magazine; posted on 14 April 2011.
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• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 1905th 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 • • with Mabel Stark in 1933 • •
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