Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mae West: Liberty

New York, the same municipality that jailed MAE WEST for the crime of staging her gay plays in a theatre during the 1920s, became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage legislation on Friday, 24 June 2011. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. Too bad Mae, a native New Yorker, is not here to witness this historic moment, however, scores of American divorce lawyers are already shopping for expensive foreign sportscars and penthouses on Central Park South.
• • Tale of the Tape • •
• • When Mae West was fitted for her costumes for “Myra Breckinridge,” the actress was then 77 years old. Nevertheless, her waist size was a trim 26 inches. How many movie queens merit a starring role after age 65 anyway? Greta Garbo retired from the screen at age 36 and Marilyn Monroe was dead before her 37th birthday.
• • It is interesting that a much younger starlet (who was five and a half inches taller than Mae) recently had her iconic movieland outfits assessed by the tapemeasure last week. Guess what? It's easier to be thin at age 29 than at 77. Marilyn Monroe was 29 when she starred in "The Seven Year Itch" [1955]. The 5' 5½" actress fit into costumes that brought her measurements to light — — bust size 34 and waist size 22. These items were scrutinized in advance of the sale of Debbie Reynolds’s extraordinary collection of Hollywood costumes, props, and cinema memorabilia.
• • Virginia Postrel covered the Debbie Reynolds auction held at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. Bloomberg News reporter Virginia Postrel writes: Despite decades of effort, Debbie Reynolds never managed to find funding for the Hollywood motion-picture history museum she envisioned. ...
• • The coordination required to display the costumes for photography and publicity also brought new insights into the Hollywood figures of the past. Virginia Postrel explains: In fact, the average waist measurement of the four Marilyn Monroe [1926 — 1962] dresses was a mere 22 inches, according to Lisa Urban, the Hollywood consultant who dressed the mannequins and took measurements for me. Even Monroe’s bust was a modest 34 inches. That’s not an anecdote. That’s data.
• • Virginia Postrel comments on Mae West's measurements and others: The other actresses’ costumes provided further context. “It’s like half a person,” marveled a visitor at the sight of Claudette Colbert’s gold-lame “Cleopatra” gown (waist 18 inches). “That waist is the size of my thigh,” said a tall, slim man, looking at Carole Lombard’s dress from “No Man of Her Own” (a slight exaggeration — — it was 21 inches). Approaching Katharine Hepburn’s “Mary of Scotland” costumes, a plump woman declared with a mixture of envy and disgust, “Another skinny one.” The pattern she noticed was real. At my request, Lisa Urban took waist measurements on garments worn by 16 different stars, from Mary Pickford in 1929 (20 inches) to Barbra Streisand in 1969 (24 inches). The thickest waist she found was Mae West’s 26 inches in “Myra Breckinridge,” when the actress was 77 years old. ...
• • Virginia Postrel is a Bloomberg View columnist. Her article was "Auction Ends Myth of Plump Marilyn Monroe" written by Virginia Postrel for Bloomberg; posted on 24 June 2011
• • On 25 June 1926 • •
• • On this date Mae West entertained at a fundraiser held at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan.
• • Johnny Mercer [1909 — 1976] • •
• • In "Sextette" [1978], there is a very impressive rendition of "Hooray for Hollywood" by a large cast of performers. The iconic song was written by Johnny Mercer, who died in the month of June — — on 25 June 1976 — — from a brain tumor at age 66.
• • Notable • •
• • New Zealand-born Pamela Stephenson is promoting her book "Sex Life: How Our Sexual Encounters and Experiences Define Who We Are." The blonde and buxom author is a former comedienne, TV star, and (lately) a celebrity psychologist. Her new release is a 500-page voyage through the way of all flesh, liberally punctuated and peppered by quotations from such sexual luminaries as Mae West, Mick Jagger, etc. We wish the author well as she navigates her global book tour.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • One section of Brooklyn that Mae West called home (briefly) was Greenpoint.
• • Kylie Jane Wakefield begins her article this way: Greenpoint/ Williamsburg is where Frank Serpico was shot in the face, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs got their start, and the site of one of the largest oil spills in America. The neighborhood was and is home to screen legend Mae West, a bridge named after a Polish general who saved George Washington’s life, and the only licensed dealer of radioactive waste in New York City. On Tuesday, June 21st, these were just some of the many fascinating facts that were incorporated into Neighbors Allied for Good Growth’s (NAG) fundraiser and trivia night. ...
• • Source: Article: "Trivia Night with NAG" written by Kylie Jane Wakefield for The Greenpoint Gazette (Brooklyn, NY); published on 23 June 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 1972nd 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 • • 1970 costume drawn by the talented Tom Tierney • •
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