Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mae West: Quint Benedetti

MAE WEST recorded a song by Quint Benedetti, who is enjoying a birthday today. Quint writes: I was born on 21 April 1926. Like Mae West, I feel ageless. Even though I am 85, I can't believe it. In 1943, the handsome 17-year-old joined the US Navy and, while in boot camp, he sang his final performance on the US Navy Hour Network radio show. Recently, he self published a memoir: My Travels with Agnes Moorehead, the Lavender Lady. In the Prologue, he notes: "Pick a hero or heroine and live your own life and theirs, too. Happiness will be yours because you will never be bored — — the scourge of most people's lives.
• • Here is an interesting account of how Quint met Mae West and participated in one of her popular seasonal LPs. This section is an excerpt from "In Search of Mae West" by R. Mark Desjardins. Please do not duplicate this copyrighted text without permission. Be nice.
• • R. Mark Desjardins wrote: Mae West signed a one record recording contract with Dagonet record and released “Wild Christmas” in December of 1966 sending up Santa Claus and other seasonal traditions. Especially entertaining were her renditions of Elvis Presley’s “Santa, Bring My Baby Back To Me”; Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”; The Beatles’ “With Love From Me To You”; and a take-off on her trademark line “Santa, Come Up and See Me.” She loved Quint Benedetti’s song “Put The Loot In The Boot, Santa” and invited him to visit her at the Ravenswood in late 1969 when Mae was 76 years old.
• • R. Mark Desjardins explained: At the time, Mae West had mentioned she was looking for material for a possible adult fairy tale album. Benedetti and West discussed themes but no lyrics or music were written. Over the years, Benedetti’s had been Agnes Moorehead’s manager and worked with Perry Como. “I knew not to get too personal or talk too much. Mae seemed different. I told her she emerged as a positive female figure in my dreams. She understood and responded. I told her that I had undergone therapy to overcome dysfunctional family memories and that spiritualism carried me through some rough times.”
• • R. Mark Desjardins noted: During the course of their conversation, Quint Benedetti confided he had written a musical play based on her autobiography, “Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It” and he had written some tunes entitled “Come Up and See Me Sometime” and “Tall, Dark, and Handsome,” all in her distinctive style. He also mentioned he’d written “If You Want To Hang On To Your Man, Don’t Tie Him to Your Apron Strings.” Benedetti recalled “She sort of liked the song, but stated, ‘Mae West wouldn’t sing that — — it’s negative. Don’t use the word ‘don’t.’ Drop the ‘don’t’ and I might use it.’”
• • R. Mark Desjardins continued: After listening to his plan for the proposed musical, West asked Benedetti which actress he had in mind for the lead role and listened politely while he rattled off a few names. Benedetti was taken aback when she suddenly blurted out, “I’ll play the role!” He thought her comment was bizarre as she would be portraying a young Mae West and that’s when he thought to himself she was getting old and senile. Benedetti felt that, “Mae West was corny and she knew she was a big put on.” All the same, Mae West was so impressed with Benedetti that she sent him to Universal Studio to see Stanley Musgrove about a bit part in "Myra Breckinridge" though nothing came of it.
• • R. Mark Desjardins concluded: “I didn’t sell a lot of records on her, but she did a good job with the song and it was my biggest thrill having her record it,” Benedetti reminisced. “The Myra project took a lot of her energy and the proposal for the naughty fairy tale project took a back seat.” West never asked Benedetti to give her credit for writing lyrics during their discussions but indicated, “I will put my own little spice in the material.” Over the decades, Mae's vinyl Christmas album has been re-released as "Mae In December" and "Under the Mistletoe." More recently, the recording has appeared for sale on eBay in compact disc format. ...
— — Excerpt: — —
• • This is an excerpt from "In Search of Mae West" by R. Mark Desjardins. Offered exclusively to the Mae West Blog by the author, this selection was used with his kind permission.
• • Happy Birthday today to Quint Benedetti, a debonair gentleman of charm and wit.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Elaine Cunningham writes: Is there ever too much mulch for your garden? To paraphrase Mae West, 'Too much of a good thing is probably just about right.' ...
• • Source: Op-Ed: "Is There Ever Too Much Mulch for Your Garden?" written by Elaine Cunningham for Barrington Patch; posted on 19 April 2011.
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 1907th 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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