Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mae West: Sime Silverman

An article in Variety — — whose publisher Sime Silverman [19 May 1873 — 23 September 1933] was well-known to MAE WEST — — could inflate and launch a performer's career upward not unlike the way helium helps a balloon.
• • Born in Cortland, NY in the month of May — — on 19 May 1873 — — Simon J. Silverman yearned to be a reporter. In 1903 Daily America hired him to critique vaudeville acts. After acquiring some experience, he snagged a reviewer's gig with The Telegraph. A variety artist had paid for a half-page ad in The Telegraph. Being honest instead of politically correct, Silverman panned the act as "N.G." (no good), which got him sacked. This was exactly the motivation he needed. In 1905, he launched his own "horizontal" sheet, VARIETY, which offered coverage on live acts, vaude, circus dare-devils, and other forms of entertainment.
• • Also born in May, writer Sidney Skolsky [2 May 1905 — 3 May 1983] regularly interviewed Broadway personalities such as Mae West during the 1920s. Sidney Skolsky wrote this amusing essay in 1929. An excerpt appears below.
• • Sime Silverman — — Variety's The Spice Of Life • •
• • He is the sole owner, publisher and editor of the bible of show business: SIME SILVERMAN. Variety, the man in type form, is one of the best, most respected and most influential trade journal in the world.
• • He was fired from the Morning Telegraph be-cause his review of a vaudeville act displeased the managing editor. While on that sheet he signed his reviews: "The Man in the Third Row."
• • He is not moody.
• • He is fifty-three years old. Was born in Cortland, N. Y. Has been married to the same wife for thirty years. The pride and joy of his life is his son, Syd, who wrote on Variety as a child critic at the age of seven, signing his articles with the pen name "Shigie."
• • Decided to publish a paper for the profession which would print news items and show reviews as the staff writers wrote them. He discussed the possibilities with Mrs. Silverman. Together they named it Variety. Then, absentmindedly, she sketched on the table cover the funny capital "V." It's still the trademark of the paper.
• • His first office was a tiny room on the fifth floor of the Knickerbocker Theatre building. [In 1905 the building was situated at 1396 Broadway, between West 38th and West 39th, adjacent to New York City’s famous theatre district.]
• • His only pet is an Angora cat named Steve.
• • He summers at Alexandria Bay when he summers.
• • In mid-December, the year 1905, the first copy of Variety appeared on the newsstands. It contained sixteen pages. It sold for a nickel. The wise guys gave the paper three months to live.
• • He likes to eat in road houses. His credit is good everywhere. He always pays cash.
• • In the beginning Variety's space was devoted solely to vaudeville. Today vaudeville receives but little attention, motion pictures being the big feature. He still reviews the small-time vaudeville shows.
• • Is probably the hardest working editor in America. His day begins at eight-thirty A. M. Can generally be found at his desk at two A. M. still working.
• • He eats in the hunting room at the Astor. Is the greatest check grabber Broadway has ever known. Has never been known to allow anyone to pick up the "bad news." Is a very liberal tipper. ...
• • Photo from 1920 shows the theatre district mainstays — such as the Casino Theatre, Knickerbocker, and Maxine Elliott's which were located between West 38th — West 39th on Broadway. Soon the playhouses would move further uptown. Mae entertained at the Casino.
• • Babe Gordon [1930] • •
• • Blogger Erik Donald France crafted an enjoyable and insightful review of "Babe Gordon" [1930], a novel by Mae West. His first paragraph is this: Mae West's Babe Gordon is a rare character in that she does basically what she wants. No Pandora's Box. No Thelma and Louise, no Madame Bovary, no Anna Karenina, more like The Last Seduction, the entertaining 1994 neo-noir movie starring Linda Fiorentino. In other words, instead of "independent woman gets punished for her social transgressions," "independent woman lives free and gets away with it." Why aren't there more of these kinds of characters? It's refreshing. ...
• • Source: Erik Le Rouge's blog on [posted on 16 May 2011]
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Raymond Loewy [1893 — 1986], the father of industrial design, created the Mae West bottle for Coke in the 1950s.
• • Gareth Roberts writes: In 1940, the [cigarette] brand came to the attention of the legendary industrial designer Raymond Loewy, the man responsible for Coca-Cola’s Mae West inspired bottle and numerous other American institutions including the Studebaker car, the Greyhound bus, and the Shell logo. The president of American Tobacco George Washington Hill bet Loewy $50,000 he would not be able to improve on the Lucky Strike design. One month later Loewy collected his money and Lucky Strike had a new package. ...
• • Source: Article: "Stubbing Out A Century Of Cigarette Design" written by Gareth Roberts for Sabotage Times; posted on 19 May 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 1935th 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 • • NYC theatre district where Mae performed, 1920 • •
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