Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mae West: Gerald Marks

MAE WEST recorded a popular old standard in her album "The Fabulous Mae West" [for MCA Records, Inc., 100 Universal Plaza, Universal City, California] — — "All of Me" by composer Gerald Marks.
• • Born in Saginaw, Michigan in the month of October — — on 13 October 1900 — — Gerald Marks began writing songs as a boy. He was best known for the song "All of Me," which he co-wrote in 1931 with bandleader Seymour Simons, and which has been recorded more than 1,000 times (including four versions by Frank Sinatra). Al Jolson was the first to make it a hit. Marks also wrote the songs "That's What I Want for Christmas" for a Shirley Temple film, and "Is It True What They Say About Dixie?" recorded by Al Jolson and Rudy Vallee.
• • After a long and exciting career, Gerald Marks died on 27 January 1997. He was 96 years old.
• • Mae West on the Bookshelf • •
• • Author Michael Bronski's new book "A Queer History of the USA" [Beacon Press, 286 pages] has been getting press attention and has attracted new awareness to Mae West's legal battles in 1927.
• • Writing for Gay City News, Doug Ireland had this to say about Mae West, "The Drag," and Bronski: Michael Bronski traces the crucial role the theatrical stage played as a transmission belt for discussions of a wider spectrum of sexualities. He’s unearthed examples that –– –– even though I consider myself fairly well versed in homo history –– –– were new to me. For example, “the opening scene of Mae West’s 1927 play ‘The Drag’ –– featuring homosexual characters and a drag ball –– –– has two characters discussing the ideas of Karl Ulrichs,” the 19th century German agitator for homosexual liberation who is considered the pioneer of the LGBT movements for sexual liberation. The play was closed down by authorities, as was the iconic Yiddish playwright Sholem Asch’s classic 1907 drama “The God of Vengeance” for its lesbian content.
• • Doug Ireland continued: Such widespread stage portrayals contributed to the Republican-controlled New York State Legislature’s vote to ban any theatrical performances “depicting or dealing with the subject of sex degenerates or sex perversion.” ...
• • Source: Article: "America Only Gets Queerer" written by Doug Ireland for Gay City News; posted: Wednesday, 12 October 2011
• • On 13 October 1928 • •
• • On 13 October 1928, an article appeared in Billboard Magazine (on page 42) covering the actions of the NYC police who had padlocked Mae's second homosexual play "Pleasure Man."
• • On 13 October 1932 • •
• • During the middle of October in 1932, Mae's jewel robbery was in the newspaper headlines. It was a frightening episode — — and it occurred just a few months after Mae had relocated to Los Angeles, California to be in the speakeasy film "Night After Night" with George Raft.
• • Clip: Omaha-Bee News on 13 October 1932.
• • On 13 October 1933 • •
• • Mordaunt Hall critiqued the motion picture "I'm No Angel" starring Mae West on 13 October 1933 for The New York Times. Hall gave this screen comedy a rave review.
• • On 13 October 1968 • •
• • It was on 13 October 1968 that The New York Times printed this teasing dispatch from their Rome-based journalist Mark Shivas: "Fellini's Back, and Mae West's Got Him!"
• • Federico Fellini [20 January 1920 — 31 October 1993] had met Mae West in 1963 and had been wooing her from then — — cooking her pots of pasta and coaxing her to appear in one of his projects, according to the eccentric filmmaker. "Mae West is the mother of the empress," announced Fellini. "An erotic witch. She knows everything about the ancient ritual of bedrooms. I met her five years ago and she looked more like 45 than 75. Molto Simpatico. Intelligent. Full of humor. . . ."
• • But Mae West was more interested in protecting her brand than chasing after Fellini's carrot. When asked by reporters to confirm her role in his next film, Mae replied: "I will not sign until I see the script" [17 October 1968].
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Goodness had nothing to do with it."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article in The New Masses discussed Mae West.
• • Robert Forsythe wrote: When you consider Madame Du Barry and Nell Gwynne, it is evident that Mae West has made a mistake in confining her immorality to stage and screen. Granted that a woman of her intelligence could be prevailed upon to favor, a Congressman or a Secretary of War, the spectacle of Miss West affecting state policy as well as private temperatures is something which no future historian could afford to overlook. It is plain that on any basis of comparison she belongs to the great line.
• • Robert Forsythe explained: There are so many indications of the breakdown of capitalist civilization that we are inclined to become tender and sympathetic in the midst of the debacle, much in the manner of "don't cheer, boys; the poor devils are dying," but it is obvious that Miss West, more than any of her associates, symbolizes the end of an epoch. Her stage plays, Sex and The Drag, uncovered such a horrifying picture of homosexuals, lesbians and ordinary degenerates that Miss West was sentenced to the work house for ten days as a way of restoring the faith of the populace in the great city. Her motives in presenting the plays were undoubtedly mercenary, but her attorneys overlooked a great opportunity of establishing her as a sociologist and humanitarian, moved solely by her concern for reform.
• • Robert Forsythe continued: The movies were more astute in their management of her films. They retained the spiciness, the lustiness and bawdiness, but they carefully confined them to the past. ...
• • Source: Article: "Mae West: A Treatise on Decay" written by Robert Forsythe for The New Masses; published on 9 October 1934.
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2082nd 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 • • in October 1932 • •
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