Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mae West: Regional Romeo

Steve Cochran appeared on Broadway with MAE WEST.
• • Born in Eureka, California in the month of May — — on 25 May 1917 — — he moved during the 1920s to Laramie, Wyoming thanks to his lumberjack father. Perhaps used to a lonely landscape where he often saw things tumbling down and falling, his spirit may have yearned to be hemmed in by a fixed construction such as an auditorium. In any case, upon his 1939 commencement from the University of Wyoming, Cochran began working in regional theatre and summer stock. After honing his craft at the Barter Theatre and the Carmel (California) Shakespeare Festival, he worked at Detroit's Federal Theatre, and was co-starred in the touring companies of "Without Love" and "My Sister Eileen" before his Broadway debut in the eight-performance flop "Hickory Stick."
• • In 1948, upon being released from his Hollywood contract, Cochran went back to The Gay White Way. Mae West cast him in the shady, hot-blooded role of Juarez in her "Diamond Lil" revival from February 5—26, 1949 at the Coronet Theatre on West 49th Street.
• • Then 36, the thrice married lady-killer is reputed to have had a heavy breathing "after-hours" relationship with his 50-something diamond-draped leading lady. So generously endowed was Cochran that Mae West once reminisced about his well-equipped manhood, "Cochran. Talk about an appropriate last name. ... "
• • Sex symbol Mamie Van Doren recalled Steve Cochran most fondly on her web site. According to Miss Van Doren: Steve and I had dated for a short time when I found out that he was also seeing Mae West on a regular basis. Steve had been a young actor in one of Mae's Broadway shows when she "discovered" him. (Mae always had a yen for younger men. Of course, I did too.) At first he told me that they were working on a script together, but as time went on, it became clear to me that there was a good bit of other work going on too. Steve finally admitted that he and Mae had been lovers for some time. It has never been my style to share a lover. If someone isn't willing to be with me exclusively, I feel they should move on. But I made an exception in this case. It was, after all, Mae West... . [Leading ladies Cochran led to bed also included busty Jayne Mansfield and Merle Oberon.]
• • After performing with Mae West, Steve Cochran signed with Warner Bros. in 1949 and returned to Hollywood.
• • May 1985 • •
• • Madonna discusses what an enormous influence Mae West was for her. She explained the development of her flamboyant stage persona and her "Mae Westian secret smile" to Rolling Stone Magazine reporter Fred Schruers in an article titled "Lucky Stars."
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • "I coulda made it on the writin' alone. I always took it serious. .... You gotta think to write," Mae West told N.Y. Times reporter Tom Burke in July 1976. His article ran with this headline: "Mae West to Star Opposite Six Leading Men." Three years earlier, in July 1973, Mae had expressed the same viewpoint in Family Weekly: "I'm not just a star — — I'm a writer as well. And a thinker! I always keep busy."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Here's a short section from a post called "The Mae West Approach to RPLA" — — Florida novelist Chris Coward writes: Whenever someone wins a Royal Palm Literary Award (RPLA), I think about how it can change that person’s life. An RPLA award can make an unpublished writer more publishable and a published writer more marketable. Who wouldn’t want that? But what about those folks who don’t win? What do they get from the competition? Mae West probably phrased it best: “When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.” Mae was talking about … oh, never mind … but she could have been talking about RPLA. ...
• • Source: Article: "The Mae West Approach to RPLA" written by Chris Coward for Florida Writers Association Blog; 22 May 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 1941st 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:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Coronet Theatre, 1949 • •
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