Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mae West: Inspired by Aimee

MAE WEST and Texas Guinan first met Sister Aimee in 1927 at an illegal but posh speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. All three women had Irish heritage and each one loved to commandeer the spotlight. Between the two world wars, Aimee Semple McPherson made herself into the most controversial and flamboyant minister in the United States.
• • Born in Ontario, Canada on 9 October 1890, Aimee Semple McPherson, also known as "Sister Aimee" or simply "Sister," was an evangelist and a media sensation in the 1920s and 1930s; she was also the founder of the Foursquare Church.
• • McPherson had started out as a Salvation Army worker. [One year later, Mae West would be featuring a Salvation Army worker Captain Cummings in her 1890s Bowery play "Diamond Lil" [Broadway debut April 1928]. Diamond Lil discovers that this handsome man is really "the Hawk" and doing detective work undercover. In the film "She Done Him Wrong," Captain Cummings is played by Cary Grant.]
• • Aimee McPherson spent four years [1918 –– 1922] as an itinerant Pentecostal preacher, finally settling with her mother in Los Angeles, California, and founding the Foursquare Gospel Church. She supervised construction of a large, domed ecclesiastical building in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, and it was completed in June 1923. Named Angelus Temple, it had a seating capacity of over 5,000.
• • When Aimee Semple McPherson, the famous Evangelist (with the marcel-waved hair) from Los Angeles visited New York on 19 February 1927, she insisted on visiting Texas Guinan's club. Mae West was there to meet Aimee, too.
• • As Texas Guinan prepared to welcome McPherson, she surely realized this was an exceptional promotional opportunity.
• • By mid-February 1927, Mae had already been arrested. No doubt she was paying attention to all the stagecraft and image-building at work as Aimee kept her name in the headlines.
• • Eight years later, Mae West would be playing an evangelist in Nome, Alaska in her film "Klondike Annie" — — a motion picture released in February 1936 after a lengthy hold-up by the censors who refused to let Mae West appear as a preacher or religious worker onscreen.
• • It was in Oakland, California that Aimee Semple McPherson was found dead of an overdose of prescription barbiturates in September — — on 27 September 1944. Was it a suicide or an accident? She was only 53 years old.
• • Although it would be nice to have had an illustration of Mae West and Texas Guinan socializing with Sister Aimee in 1927, at least we have this amusing extremely-unlikely-to-have-happened sketch by Miguel Covarrubias.
• • In September, we remember Lloyd Nolan • •
In 1937, Paramount Pictures spent a record one million dollars on its Mae West vehicle "Every Day's a Holiday" [released in the USA as holiday fare on 18 December 1937]. Actor Lloyd Nolan, age 35, was cast as John Quade.
• • Born in San Francisco, California on 11 August 1902, Lloyd Benedict Nolan was a film, radio and television actor.
• • On 27 September 1985, Lloyd Nolan died in Los Angeles of lung cancer. He was 83.
• • Mae West and MoSex on 27 September 2002 • •
• • The Museum of Sex was about to welcome its first visitors with a Mae West exhibition and British reporter Oliver Burkeman wrote a piece for London's newspaper, The Guardian.
• • Oliver Burkeman explained: The country's first sex museum, which opens to the public on Saturday in an area of New York City once renowned for its brothels and licentious saloons, is being touted as "the Smithsonian of Sex". . . . The idea came to Dan Gluck, a 34-year-old former software entrepreneur, in "a casual conversation that turned serious. "I mean, it's not like as a child all I ever wanted to do was open a sex museum."
• • Oliver Burkeman continued: Five years later MoSex opens with a historical exhibit called NYCSex: How New York City Transformed Sex in America. Visitors — — over-18s only — — are led through galleries bathed in pink light portraying everything from America's earliest legal condoms (made from sausage casings), past Mae West and early 20th-century gay lesbian pornography to puritanical crusaders against obscenity and the sexual revolution, before abruptly turning to a sombre exhibit on AIDS. It finishes with a computer installation where visitors can record their sexual experiences and fantasies — — and read those of others, although presumably somebody is going to have to go first. . . .
• • Source: Article: "Manhattan sends sex to the museum — — New York opts for a scholarly approach to its bawdy history" written by Oliver Burkeman for The Guardian [UK]; published on Friday, 27 September 2002
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said this: "I'd rather be looked over than overlooked."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about the book "Holy Mackerel!," which discusses aspects of the Amos 'N' Andy story (by Bart Andrews and Ahrgus Julliard) has mentioned Mae West.
• • Reporter Robert J. Booker writes: Nick Stewart, who played "Lightnin," the slow-moving janitor in the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge Hall on the show "Amos 'n' Andy," was born in New York City and had performed in more than 50 films before joining the show. He had also done Broadway shows as a song-and-dance man. Mae West caught one of his acts and asked him to be in one of her movies, "Go West Young Man" in 1936. He also appeared in three of my favorite black films, "Cabin in the Sky" (1943), "Stormy Weather" (1943) and "Carmen Jones" (1954).
• • Robert J. Booker adds: One News Sentinel reader, Martin Gebrow, whose father was involved in theatrical productions, says he remembers seeing Stewart on stage in New York, where he often did a Stepin Fetchit-like routine with Vitrola. According to the "Holy Mackerel!" book, Stewart had been a chorus boy at Lincoln Theater and the Cotton Club and said, "Chorus boys were supposed to be handsome. I didn't fit those qualifications. So when they were picking choruses, they began to (exclude) me." ...
• • Source: Article: "Actors enjoyed abundant careers" written by Robert J. Booker for Knox News; posted on 20 September 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2066th 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's friend Texas Guinan • • 1927 • •
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