In early July 1916 MAE WEST and Beverly were busy with their dress rehearsals. Matilda West had urged her daughters to put together a sister act.
• • Variety announced: "New Acts This Week — — July 7th. Mae West and Sister — Songs. 18 Minutes."
• • "Mae West and Sister" appeared at Keith and Proctor's Fifth Avenue Theatre [27-31 West 28th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Broadway]. On the same bill was a Fatty Arbuckle film, a Keystone comedy.
• • Mae and Beverly's vaudeville turn included two popular Black songs that Mae had previously found success with: "They Call It Dixieland" and "Walkin' the Dog," their finale, for which Mae appeared in a man's tuxedo and top hat and Beverly wore feminine frills.
• • Reviewing the act, Variety's publisher Sime (who was often critical of Mae) wrote this: "This working out new acts, buying new wardrobe, and worrying will get to Miss West's nerve in time (but it will probably be a long time). Miss West, in the first number, "I Want to Be Loved in the Old Fashioned Way," follows her sister (who sings the first verse straight) with a second verse telling how Miss West would prefer to be loved, in the modern way, auto ride, plenty of wine, and so on . . . ."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • This lively excerpt was written by the versatile variety artist, monologist, and comedian Joe Laurie, Jr. [1892 — 1954], a native New Yorker well acquainted with "hometown girl" Mae West. Writing in 1953, Mr. Laurie presents his recollections on the remarkable vaudevillians of his generation.
• • • • Chapter: Mimics 103 • • • •
• • Most imitated males — — I believe that the most imitated men in the world were Harry Lauder, Charlie Chaplin, Gallagher & Shean, and Jimmy Durante. Just try and find me a guy who hasn't tried to sing "She Is My Daisy" with a burr; they ran Charlie Chaplin contests all over the world; and there were so many imitations of Gallagher & Shean that the Keith office had to issue a rule that there would be only one on a bill! And, of course, as for the great Schnozzola, Jimmy Durante, there's millions of 'em. (Eddie Garr was the first mimic to do Durante and was great.)
• • Most imitated females — — The most imitated women were Eva Tanguay and Mae West. Just think back and try to remember any kid just learning to talk who didn't say, "Why don't you come up and see me sometime?" and their doting mothers would say, "Another Mae West!"
• • From 1897 to 1910 there was an epidemic of mimics in vaude, It died down for about five years and then broke out again and lasted until about 1925, when the mimics took a powder for awhile. Creators, not imitators, became the order of things. Then radio came in and with it a plague of mimics got aboard the gravy train many very good ones who have since given up mimicry but, as I said before, I'm only telling you about the guy and dolls in vaude up through the Palace days. ...
• • Source: Excerpt from the book "Vaudeville: From the Honky-tonks to the Palace" written by Joe Laurie, Jr. [NY: Henry Holt & Co., 1953]; Chapter "Mimics 103"
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 1980th 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 • • "Mae West & Sister," 1916 • •
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