Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mae West: Roaring

The third week of August ends the roaring reign of Leo the lion [July 23rd — August 22nd], the astrological sign MAE WEST was born under. Borrowing details from her own bio for the dialogue with the fortuneteller in "I'm No Angel" who says, "You were born under Leo," Mae's character Tira, a novice lion tamer, replies, "Yeah, the king of beasts, huh?"
• • Perhaps the horoscope that Rajah hands Tira lists some of this information: Sun in Leo 25°22'; Moon in Scorpio 11°27'; Mercury in Leo 11°04'; Venus in Virgo 24°06'; Mars in Virgo 1°03' (and other details whose importance will be understood by some, but pooh-poohed by others). In this 1933 motion picture comedy, Tira often consults this forecast, seeking guidance on her career and romances.
• • On 23 August 1922 • •
• • It was 23 August 1922 when The Clipper announced that Mae West had returned to vaudeville and would be opening (again) at Proctor's Fifth Avenue Theatre starting that Monday. This was the same venue that had booked "Mae West and Sister" in its charming auditorium steps from Madison Square Park.
• • Kathleen Freeman • •
• • A laugh-getter who appeared with Mae in "Myra Breckinridge" [released in the USA on 24 June 1970] also had ties to variety. Chicago native Kathleen Freeman made her vaudeville debut at age 2, becoming a part of her parents' act.
• • Born on 17 February 1919, the heavy-set comedienne portrayed Bobby Dean Loner in the screen version of Gore Vidal's bestseller. The UCLA graduate's first goal had been to shine as a professional pianist but, after thoroughly enjoying her work with several stock productions, she changed gears. Kathleen Freeman once said: "I think comedy is more powerful than drama in the long run. Comedy is more difficult. It's very easy to make people cry."
• • She made her first motion picture appearance in 1948 at 29 years old. The reliable character actress was used as a comic foil by Jerry Lewis in several of his films. Her stocky figure, expressive face, energetic laugh, and supple voice-craft served her well, keeping her in demand and busy juggling parts on the silver screen, TV, and also on Broadway.
• • Kathleen Freeman, 82 years old, was cast in a Broadway production when she died in New York City during the month of August — — on 23 August 2001 — — of lung cancer. Engaged on stage until the very end, the octogenarian had given her final Tony nomination performance for her role as the piano player in Broadway's musical hit "The Full Monty" on August 18th, and five days later she was gone.
• • John Garcia, Executive Director/ Producer of "The Column" Awards, created an award in her honor. This prize is given to individuals who overcome personal, physical, or other major problems in their lives and continue to work in theater, whether behind or in front of the curtain. Kathleen Freeman embodied the true spirit of the Broadway gypsy: "The show must go on." Applause!
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West wrote this exchange for "I'm No Angel" [1933], a big hit for Paramount Pictures.
• • • Tira: Come on, can't you hurry up and get that thing fixed? I gotta get back. I'm expecting Mr. Clayton at the apartment.
• • • Bill Barton's Chauffeur: I'm doing the best I can, ma'am.
• • • Tira: Yeah, your best is no good. Try doing your worst.
• • • Bill Barton's Chauffeur: Yes, ma'am.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Kings County historian Vernon Parker wrote: As the curtains closed over the screen on 22 August 1962, the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre at Flatbush and DeKalb avenues was history. ... Gracing its ornate stage during its reign as the mecca of Brooklyn entertainment were such celebrities as Mae West, Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Rudy Vallee, Ginger Rogers, Bing Crosby, Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, and most of the big band era orchestras. ...
• • Source: Article: "On This Day in History: August 22 — — Paramount’s Last Picture Show" written by Vernon Parker for The Brooklyn Eagle; posted on 22 August 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2031st 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: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1933 • •
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Mae West.

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