Friday, September 02, 2011

Mae West: Too Hot to Get By

When MAE WEST was launching her stage career, she emphasized her dancing ability and physical exuberance. Like the newcomer George Raft, variety artist Mae became known for fast footwork. At the Shubert Theatre, a young soldier in the audience named Leonard Hall noted that she was a "slender, beautiful ball of fire who performed as a specialty dancer in high kicks, cartwheels, and fast taps. She was a tasty tornado." Those fancy steps were the result of years of studying with Ned Wayburn, who died at the beginning of September.
• • Born in Pennsylvania, Ned Wayburn [30 March 1874 — 2 September 1942] was a choreographer. His promotional campaigns pictured some of his most successful dance pupils — — and though Mae was not featured on any of those testimonials, Ned taught her to dance and cast her in several shows, adding heft to her resume and stage career.
• • Mae West in Screen Play, September 1933 • •
• • Lew Garvey, the manager of New Haven's Palace Theatre, recalled an audience of Yale college boys watching a younger Mae West: "The girl, I remember, was a tiny blonde, full of pep and vigor . . . At the Monday performance . . . things began to happen. ... The finale was a song number, with the girl seated between the two boys on a bench. What they called in those far-off days a rag number. . . . it was far too hot to ever get by in staid New Haven . . ."
• • Screen Play interviewed Lew Garvey two decades after Mae's troubled vaudeville run in New Haven, Connecticut.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West wrote this: “Don't keep a man guessing too long — — he's sure to find the answer somewhere else.”
• • Mae West wrote this: "I've been things and seen places."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • It seems that Mae West came up in conversation during an NPR interview.
• • NEAL CONAN: Every time you have sex with somebody in one of these movies, romance must inevitably follow.
• • CHLOE ANGYAL: Well, not necessarily. But every time you arrange to — — every time you promise not to get involved every time you have one of these friends with benefits arrangements, it inevitably goes awry in that you inevitably fall in love with the person because sex without love is not possible, Hollywood tells us.
• • NEAL CONAN: So Hollywood tells us. It's interesting that these films, you say, have been locked into the same set of tropes ever since, well, I guess, Hollywood had some problems with Mae West, and after that, they've all become pretty much the same. ...
• • Source: Interview: "What Can We Learn From Romantic Comedies?" for NPR; posted 1 September 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2041st 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 • • 1912 • •
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