Friday, October 28, 2011

Mae West: Aggie Herring

MAE WEST, who was often cast as an Irish or a French maid on Broadway, probably had a special feeling in her heart for those women who rarely broke loose from the cinema's apron strings such as character actress Aggie Herring who was in "She Done Him Wrong."
• • Born in San Francisco on 4 February 1876, Aggie was in Hollywood by the age of 39 and in regular demand when a matronly presence was required. Working steadily in Tinseltown from 1915 — 1939, Aggie Herring was often seen in minor roles such as the cook, housekeeper, flower vendor, charwoman, seamstress, Irish washerwoman, landlady, mother-in-law, and once as a nun. Steadily employed for twenty four years in the screen trade, her name was attached to 122 projects. The year she died, she was seen as Mrs. Diggs in "Everybody's Baby" [1939]. Casting agents often saw her as an Irish character such as Maggie O'Shea in "Island in the Sky" [1938], Mrs. McGillicuddy in "The Curtain Falls" [1934], or as Mrs. Flaherty in "She Done Him Wrong" [1933].
• • Active until the end, Aggie Herring died in Santa Monica, California during the month of October — — on 28 October 1939. She was 63 years old.
• • In October, Let's Remember Alice Brady [1892 — 1939] • •
• • A daughter of an eminent Broadway producer, who waged a battle against censorship, was featured in one motion picture with Mae West.
• • Born in Manhattan on 2 November 1892 (just nine months before Mae), Alice Brady's life was cut short and she died during the month of October — — on 28 October 1939 — — at 46 years old.
• • Like the Brooklyn bombshell, Alice Brady was also a native New Yorker and of Irish descent. Her father's theatre career drew William A. Brady's daughter to the stage early on. And her appearances in the legit attracted the attention of motion picture moguls. Her first movie was in 1914 when she was 22. She made the transition from silents to talkies, perhaps because she was versatile enough to tackle a role in a serious drama such as O'Neill's "Mourning Becomes Electra" on Broadway as well as the silver screen's screwball comedies.
• • Kept busy in Hollywood dramas and comedies, in 1936 she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Carole Lombard's upper-crust mother in "My Man Godfrey" [released on 17 September 1936].
• • Directly after this success for Universal Pictures, Alice Brady was off to Paramount Pictures for a minor role in Mae West's latest project.
• • In "Go West, Young Man"
[released on 18 November 1936], Alice Brady played the role of Mrs. Struthers.
• • Though a year later, she would be winning her first Oscar, unfortunately, she never got to enjoy its powerful impact on her career. Cancer [the ultimate red-hued carpet] claimed her a few days before her 47th birthday.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West wrote these lines for her character Lady Lou: "I wasn't always rich, Pearl. No, there was a time I didn't know where my next husband was coming from." [From "She Done Him Wrong" by Mae West]
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A chapter about Cary Grant and Hollywood's high-profile romantic leads mentioned Mae West.
• • Movie critic Pauline Kael explained: There were no Cary Grants in the sticks. He and his counterparts were to be found only in the imaginary cities of the movies. When you look at him, you take for granted expensive tailors, international travel, and the best that life has to offer. Women see a man they could have fun with. Clark Gable is an intensely realistic sexual presence; you don’t fool around with Gable. But with Grant there are no pressures, no demands; he’s the sky that women aspire to. When he and a woman are together, they can laugh at each other and at themselves. He’s a slapstick Prince Charming.
• • Mae West’s raucous invitation to him — — “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” — — was echoed thirty years later by Audrey Hepburn in Charade: “Won’t you come in for a minute? I don’t bite, you know, unless it’s called for.” And then, purringly, “Do you know what’s wrong with you? Nothing.” That might be a summary of Cary Grant, the finest romantic comedian of his era: there’s nothing the matter with him. . . .
• • Source: Book Excerpt: "The Age of Movies: Selected Writings on Pauline Kael" quoting Ms. Kael for The N.Y. Times; posted on: 27 October 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2097th 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:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1933 • •
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