Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mae West: Trixie Smith

A talented blues singer was featured in MAE WEST's Broadway play "The Constant Sinner" at the Royale Theatre, which opened in mid-September 1931.
• • Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Trixie Smith [1895 — 21 September 1943] was an African American blues singer, recording artist, vaudeville entertainer, and actress. She made four dozen recordings for these labels: Black Swan, Paramount, Decca. As her career as a blues singer waned, however, Trixie Smith sustained herself by performing in cabaret revues, and starring in musical revues — — such as "New York Revue" [1928] and "Next Door Neighbors" [1928] at the Lincoln Theatre in Harlem.
• • Trixie Smith was cast as Liza in Mae West's Harlem drama on Broadway, a show that included many black performers such as handsome Lorenzo Tucker. Two years later, she was elevated to the stage of the Theatre Guild for its production of "Louisiana." All told, Trixie Smith was seen in four Broadway plays from 1931 — 1940.
• • She appeared in four movies: "God's Step Children" [1938], "Swing!" [1938], "Drums o' Voodoo" [1934], and "The Black King" [1932], which also featured Lorenzo Tucker as Carmichael the attorney. The two 1938 films were directed by Oscar Micheaux. She appeared at John H. Hammond's "From Spirituals to Swing" concert in 1938, and recorded seven titles during 1938 — 1939. Most of her later recordings were with Sidney Bechet for Decca in 1938. In 1939 she cut "No Good Man" with a band including Red Allen and Barney Bigard.
• • Trixie Smith died in New York in the month of September — — on 21 September 1943, after a brief illness. She was 48.
• • On 21 September 1934 • •
• • "Belle of the Nineties" starring Mae West opened on 21 September 1934.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said this: "If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Here is an interesting evaluation by Paul Friswold, who saw a play that is supposed to be about Mae West.
• • Missouri drama critic Paul Friswold wrote: Claudia Shear's paean to showbiz legend Mae West suffers from trying to be too many things at once. That's more than appropriate, considering West's own predilection for excess, but it's the character of West herself who gets short shrift in "Dirty Blonde," and that's unfortunate. Ms. West was always the star of her own life — — and of the lives of everyone who entered her orbit, regardless of whether they wanted to cede the spotlight — and having her bumped to the wings in her own play seems self-defeating. ... Charlie and Jo lie dormant for most of the first act but displace Mae West in the second, and her disappearance saps much of the production's sparkle. How can it not? ...
• • Source: Review: "The Mae Ingredient: Something's missing in 'Dirty Blonde'" written by Paul Friswold for Riverfront Times [St. Louis, MO]; published on 22 September 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2060th 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 • • co-star Trixie Smith in 1931 • •
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