Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mae West: Diamonds or Rhinestones?

On 22 September 1911, 18-year-old MAE WEST was in a wonderful place — — the spotlight. On that date, "A La Broadway" had opened at the Folies-Bergere Theatre, New York, NY. This short-lived revue closed on 30 September 1911.
• • On 22 September 1934 • •
• • In September 1934, Mae was involved in promoting her fourth feature for Paramount Pictures: "Belle of the Nineties." This motion picture was released on September 21st. The title of the movie review published in The New York Times on 22 September 1934 was "Mae West and Her Gaudy Retinue in 'Belle of the Nineties'." Here is the first sentence — — "Of course, Miss West is her own plot," wrote Times critic Andre Sennwald.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said this about a shady character who tried to bribe his way into the Ravenswood with bling: "I told him I'd take the opals for my sister Beverly and pass on the diamonds, which were no good." Mae told a Hollywood reporter: "Just imagine, he thought he could con me with lousy stones!"
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Diamond Lil sporting rhinestones? How's that?
• • An interesting insight about Mae West, and an inside peek into her jewelry box, came from her West Coast friend Kevin Thomas, a longtime film critic for The Los Angeles Times.
• • Movie maven Kevin Thomas wrote on 22 September 2000: Mae West was the genuine article — — even if not all her diamonds were real. Such were my thoughts as Joe Gold and I, both longtime friends of Mae's, went over the jewelry and memorabilia that her longtime companion Charles Krauser had stored after her death in 1980 at 87. Krauser, who died last year at 76, and Gold, founder of Gold's and World gyms, were in Mae's fabled muscle man chorus line in her 1950s nightclub act.
• • Kevin Thomas continued: "Goodness, what diamonds!," said a speak-easy hatcheck girl to Mae, who replied, "Goodness had nothing to do with it," sashaying into film history in an otherwise forgotten 1932 film, "Night After Night." Yet in her personal life, Mae didn't go in for much jewelry. "I have to go to the safe deposit box and get the stuff out, and that's a lot of trouble," she explained.
• • Kevin Thomas added: An expert had already told Joe Gold the startling truth: The three major stones in a magnificent diamond necklace were fake. Diamond Lil sporting rhinestones? I shouldn't have been surprised. I spent a lot of time with Mae and Krauser, known professionally as Paul Novak, during the last dozen years of her life. I recalled that she had once announced she would donate a portion of her diamonds to the war effort. Always concerned with finances yet generous to friends and relatives, she might well have discreetly sold the biggest stones from that necklace in leaner times. She declared out of the blue that of the two rings she always wore, the larger
— — composed of three stones big enough to cover two fingers — — was a fake, whereas the other, an elegantly mounted headlight, was the genuine article. That 17.55-carat diamond ring will be auctioned in L.A. Monday by Butterfields and could fetch up to $100,000. Also up for bid: the necklace . . . .
• • Source: Entertainment column: "Up for Bid: All That Glittered on Mae West" written by Kevin Thomas for The L.A. Times; published on 22 September 2000
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2061st 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 • • 1934 • •
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