Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mae West: Robert Homans

MAE WEST starred in "She Done Him Wrong," and Robert Homans was seen as Doheney.
• • Born on 8 November 1877 in Malden, Massachusetts, Robert Edward Homans was raised by down-to-earth native New Englanders but somehow the crazy acting bug bit. He and his wife and young daughter spent time in New York City before heading out West. Cast in a silent film in 1917, the five-foot-eleven performer decided to pursue a screen career. Between 1923 — 1946 he racked up 385 featured appearances. His height and very serious look made him a natural for bit parts of uniformed men such as a fire chief, doormen, sailors, policemen, detectives, and assorted judges and lawmen. A useful skill was his ability to affect an Irish brogue and he was busy working on one picture or another until he was 69 years old.
• • Robert Edward Homans died of a heart attack in the month of July — — on 28 July 1947 — — at the Motion Picture Country House in Los Angeles where he had been residing. He is buried next to his beloved wife in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
• • Mae West Flotation Device • •
• • In the month of July 1927, Peter Markus, an inventor, applied for a patent for an inflatable life vest, which in press accounts was also called the "Mae West Vest" [back on 15 July 1927], and Markus was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent Office on 11 December 1928.
• • Mae West on the Newsstand • •
• • The July 1956 issue of Lowdown Magazine printed this cover line: "How the Vice Squad Jailed Mae West." Pretty racy for the Eisenhower Era.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: “When women go wrong, men go right after them.”
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Mae West, who often went to the theatre, was well aware of the theatrical achievements of her contemporary Eugene O'Neill.
• • Author Yvonne Shafer fills in the background for her readers: Kenneth Macgowan wrote that “the theatrical success of The Hairy Ape is considerably strengthened by the illusion of brute force created by Louis Wolheim under the excellent direction of Eugene O’Neill himself.” Not only the critics and audiences were awed by Wolheim’s brute force. Mary Blair played the society girl who comes upon the stoker and faints from fear. She told an unidentified interviewer after Wolheim’s death that “I was always a bit alarmed that he would let me have the shovel full in the face. I stood only about two feet from him in the boiler room. He seemed fierce, as if he were expressing a vast social resentment.”
• •
Yvonne Shafer adds: So popular and well known was the play that satires were written on it, including one performed by, of all people, Mae West. According to her biographer, she burlesqued the character, noting that “Yank was the very sort of brutish caveman type Mae West favored as a foil to play against, onstage and off: in O’Neill’s hands a somber and powerful archetype, and in hers a comic cartoon rendered with broad strokes.” Backed by a chorus line and a black orchestra, she sang, “Eugene O’Neill, You’ve Put a Curse on Broadway” and bellowed “Yank-style”lines including, “She don me doit! Lemme up! I’ll show her who’s an ape.” Some combination: Mae West, Louis Wolheim, and Eugene O’Neill. ...
• • Source: Book excerpt: "Performing O'Neill: Conversations with Actors and Directors" written by Yvonne Shafer for New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000; reprinted by the Eugene O'Neill Review and posted c. 2003
• • 17 July 2004 17 July 2011 • •
• • In mid-July the Mae West Blog celebrates 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 2005th 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 • • 1933 • •
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