Friday, May 06, 2011

Mae West: Milton Ager

It was during the autumn of 1924 that MAE WEST attached herself to the subversive song sheet for "Big Boy," a run-away hit by the lyricist Jack Yellen [1892 — 1991] and the composer Milton Ager. "Big Boy," with explicit lyrics about a darktown sheik who drives both pale and brown-skinned women wild in bed, was offered first by Advanced Music Corp., and then republished by Ager-Yellen-Bernstein Music Company on a song sheet disguised with artwork depicting a jaunty white male.
• • On 17 April 1924 "Big Boy" was copyrighted by Ager and his frequent collaborator Yellen. It was picked up soon after and recorded by Scott Black's Hot Horns and also Bix Beiderbecke [1903 — 1931]. Perhaps it was a record or live performance that attracted Mae's attention.
• • Born in Chicago, Milton Ager [6 October 1893 — 6 May 1979] was a self-taught composer and pianist. After holding a few jobs as an accompanist to silent movies, he moved to New York to write music for vaudevillians.
• • in 1927, Mae's former boyfriend Joe Schenck (half of the variety act known as Van and Schenck) starred in a short film focused on Gus and Joe's singing and comedy bits. In this footage, they performed Ager's music: "Hard-To-Get Gertie" and "She Knows Her Onions."
• • In 1920, "I'm Nobody's Baby" became Milton Ager's first pop hit. Many chart-toppers followed such as "Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp Of Savannah)" [1924], "Ain't She Sweet" [1927], and "Happy Days Are Here Again" [1929].
• • Backed by big successes, Ager moved to Hollywood and earned his bread by writing songs for the silver screen. Ager was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979.
• • Milton Ager was 85 when he died in Los Angeles in May — — on 6 May 1979. He was interred there in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Jack Black and Angelina Jolie, promoting a laughable animated feature "Kung Fu Panda 2," gave this cutesy-poo interview to USA Today. Scott Bowles writes: Jack Black's ears perk up as Angelina Jolie talks about her early auditions for voice-over work. Jolie says she was so nervous about getting jobs that she brought dozens of zany voices she plucked from thin air, including a crude Mae West imitation.
• • "You mean like, 'Come up and see me sometime?' " Black asks in a husky breath.
• • "That sounds more like Bogart doing Mae West," Jolie says. ...
• • Source: Article: "Jolie, Black perfect for 'Kung Fu Panda 2'" written by Scott Bowles for USA Today; posted on 5 May 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 1922nd 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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