Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mae West: O'Neill Appeal

When MAE WEST's lover Paul Novak died on July 14th, his passing was announced in The Los Angeles Times.
• • Staff Writer Kevin Thomas wrote: Paul Novak, Mae West's companion of 26 years and the acknowledged love of her life, died Wednesday morning [14 July 1999] at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, where he was undergoing treatment for advanced prostate cancer. He was 76. One of the musclemen in the chorus line of West's fabled 1950s nightclub act that played Las Vegas and toured the country over five years, Novak soon fell in love with West, who was nearly 30 years his senior. She died in 1980. [Source: Obit "Paul Novak, 76; 26-Year Companion of Actress Mae West" written by Kevin Thomas; published on 15 July 1999.]
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West wrote this: Very few people know my secret ambition to be a lion-tamer. It began when as a child my father took me to my first circus at Coney Island. Through the years I mentioned it very rarely and only to intimates. The response to my enthusiasm was mainly negative and uninspiring. People were incapable of understanding unless they themselves felt the same driving fiery compulsion I had toward lion-taming. Throughout my career whenever I was on the road with a show or making personal appearances I had myself driven around to admire the points of interest of each new city. I would always inquire whether there was a zoo, and if there was, it was the first place I would go. To this day I visit every zoo I can. My animal instincts, perhaps?
• • At any rate, each new sight of the lions started a chain reaction in me which pulled my old lion-taming ambitions into top priority. I would stand before the lions cage and see myself inside, in full command. And the secret drive increased in power. There was no moment at the height of my success that I would not have gladly exchanged positions with any lady lion-tamer for a limited time at least.
• • Finally I saw a way to realize my ambition. After my first starring picture for Paramount, She Done Him Wrong, the studio was eager to follow immediately with another. At a meeting with producers and executives I was told that they wanted my second picture to be big and expensive. What kind of a big and expensive story did I want to do? What would make me happy? They were anxious to make me happy and I was willing to let them. This, I thought, is the moment I have been waiting for. Excitement began to take hold of me. I didn't show elation. Somehow I felt that to do so would frustrate my plans. So I was casual when I said, "Well, how about a circus story? You know Madison Square Garden and all that goes with it."
• • And then I held my breath, waiting for the answer. "Circus story?" an executive said. "Madison Square Garden? That means big sets, lots of people. That would cost a lot of money. Circus life is glamorous. It would be colossal."
• • Well, to me it was better than that. Out of the idea grew my second starring picture, "I'm No Angel" — — the story of a glamorous lady lion-tamer. Day by day my excitement grew as I approached closer to the supreme moment of my life. I had no fear whatever. If lions are killers at heart, I do not recall ever thinking about the fact in relation to myself. Anyhow, my obsession with getting into the cage with lions had become so great that I could recognize no stop signal. I had a talk with the trainer. He said that the lions he would use in the scene were well-trained and fairly tame. There was always some element of danger, he said, but he thought that I would be safe in the cage long enough to make the scene. ...
• • Source: Mae West telling a story in "THE PUBLIC IS NEVER WRONG: The Autobiography of Adolph Zukor" [NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1953]
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• • Annual Mae West Tribute 2011 • •
• • "Mae West in Bohemia — — Gin, Sin, Censorship, and Eugene O'Neill"
• • Mae West's birthday is August 17th. An upcoming Mae West event that is open to the public will be held on Sunday afternoon, 14 August 2011. The title of this illustrated historical theme walk is "Mae West in Bohemia — — Gin, Sin, Censorship, and Eugene O'Neill." Rare vintage illustrations will show you how the buildings and blocks looked as these two theatre people saw them.
• • Sites will include the Village speakeasies where Eugene drank himself into oblivion and met the characters he would put in his plays, and where Mae socialized and bent elbows with Texas Guinan, Walter Winchell, Jack Dempsey, and Barney Gallant; significant theatres; the court where Eugene and Mae battled against censorship; and off-beat addresses that made an impact. Get ready to walk on the wild side.
• • Raffle prizes! Each Mae West walking tour ends with a raffle of Mae-themed prizes. Sponsors may inquire about suitable product placements for August 14th.
• • When: Sunday, 14 August 2011 — — rain or shine
• • Where: Illustrated Walking Tour begins at 3:00 PM at 62 West Ninth Street, where a gay cabaret once stood that inspired Mae West to write "The Drag" (and to hire their drag queens for the cast). This tour focuses on 18 sites around Washington Square and ends at the Eugene O'Neill and Al Hirschfeld exhibition on West Third. Time: 90 — 120 minutes.
• • Cost: $10 per person
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• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Thomas Goldsmith writes: For decades, Badin, North Carolina was a classic company town. Before winding down its smelting operations beginning in 2002, Alcoa built almost everything: the row houses, many of which survive; larger houses for executives; bungalows in a sector for black employees; an opera house where Mae West and W.C. Fields performed; as well as schools, churches and a 134-acre factory complex on the edge of town. .. .
• • Source: Article: "Badin, a mill village with French flair" written by Thomas Goldsmith, Staff Writer, for News Observer; posted on 12 July 2011
• • 17 July 2004 17 July 2011 • •
• • In mid-July the Mae West Blog will celebrate its seventh anniversary. Thank you to all those Mae-mavens who come up and see Mae every day.
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 1991st 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 • • 1921 and 1928 • •
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