Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mae West: Joab Banton's nephew Travis

Waco, Texas natives figured in the life of MAE WEST. The first was Texas Guinan. The second was Travis Banton [18 August 1894 — 2 February 1958], the chief designer at Paramount Pictures. Like Mae, he was born in mid August under the sign of Leo. Travis Banton is considered one of Tinseltown's key wardrobe wizards during the 1920s —1930s. Mae first became acquainted with the Banton family, however, when her Broadway plays were shuttered thanks to Travis's uncle, Joab Banton, N.Y.'s District Attorney.
• • When he was young, Travis Banton's family moved to New York City, where he was schooled at Columbia University and at the Art Students League where he studied art and fashion design. An early apprenticeship with a blue-blooded dressmaker earned him fame. When Mary Pickford selected his gown for her wedding to Douglas Fairbanks, his reputation was established.
• • During the 1920s he created costumes for many leading actresses such as Bebe Daniels, Pola Negri, and Clara Bow. During the 1930s he forged the style of Mae West — — in "I'm No Angel" [1933] and "Belle of the Nineties" [1934]. He also dressed Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich, Kay Francis, Greta Garbo, and Carole Lombard. In 1927, he became Designer in Chief at Paramount and set the hallmark of elegant, sensuous clothes, often cut on the bias. For 12 years his assistant was Edith Head and he taught her everything she knew. Meanwhile, the practical Edith covered up for him, filling in when he disappeared.
• • In the motion picture "Belle of the Nineties" [1934], Travis Banton truly went to town on his leading lady. The film opens with a vaudevillian styled production full of scantily-clad dancers. Set in the 1890s, the famous opening features the heroine Ruby Carter [Mae West] appearing in front of various backgrounds such as a rose, a butterfly, a spider, and finally as the Statue of Liberty.
• • During his illustrious film career, Travis Banton designed costumes for 200 or more productions. His last challenge was dressing Rosalind Russell for "Auntie Mame." He died at the age of 63 on 2 February 1958.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "
Say what you want about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Handsome Gordon Mitchell worked with Mae West during the 1950s.
• • Cinema critic Richard Crouse writes: Also dismissed by critics but worth a look is Atlas In the Land of the Cyclops, a 1961 film starring muscleman Gordon Mitchell, whose first showbiz gig was as a strongman in Mae West's beefcake revue, and sex symbol Chelo Alonso as the prerequisite beautiful but evil queen. Strangely, no character named Atlas actually appears in this Italian import — — Mitchell plays Maciste, a hero made famous in silent Italian cinema, but unknown to American audiences — — and Cyclops is only onscreen for about two minutes. Still, it’s good Saturday matinee fun. ...
• • Source: Article: "The Career-killing potential of sword and sorcery flicks" written by Richard Crouse | Metro via Yahoo News Canada; posted on 17 August 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2026th 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 • • 1934 • •
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