Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mae West: The Guy Who Took His Time

In 1933, Ralph Rainger, age 32, wrote the cheeky “A Guy What Takes His Time” — — a song for Lady Lou, portrayed by MAE WEST.
• • Like Mae, Ralph Rainger [7 October 1901 — 23 October 1942] was a native New Yorker. A composer of popular music principally for films, he started out in life with the name Ralph Reichenthal when he was pursuing a legal career before deciding he'd rather be on Broadway (where he became Clifton Webb's accompanist).
• • His first hit — — "Moanin' Low," with lyrics by Howard Dietz — — was written for Webb's co-star Libby Holman in the 1929 revue "The Little Show."
• • Moving to Hollywood, Rainger teamed up with lyricist Leo Robin to produce a string of successful film songs including one number that became Bob Hope's theme song.
• • In 1942, Ralph Rainger's rising star sputtered due to a fatal plane crash near Palm Springs, California. He was a passenger aboard an American Airlines DC-3 airliner that was involved in a mid-air collision with a U.S. Army Air Corps bomber. He was only 41 years old when he died in the month of October — — on 23 October 1942.
• • On 23 October 1931 • •
• • It was on 23 October 1931 that the New York City tabloid Evening Graphic reported on the very strange fan letters Mae West was receiving. If you are familiar with the scurrilous approach to "news gathering" adopted by the porno-Graphic, then you can read into these trumped up headlines an implicit disapproval of her bi-racial drama "Constant Sinner," then onstage on Broadway at the Royale Theatre.
• • Perhaps the drama desk at the Evening Graphic was in possession of Mae West's novel Babe Gordon in hardcover. Here is a brief excerpt:
• • • • "Well, it was a woman. A beautiful woman. She was seated at a table in a corner of the room with a big negro, actually enjoying him, fascinated by him."
• • • • "Do you mean that stunning blonde woman [Babe Gordon] in an ermine wrap?" asked Jack Rathburne. "I did notice her, but I didn't see the negro."
• • • • "Well, he came in later," explained Wayne Baldwin. "Come to think of it, you were at the opposite side of the table. Your back was to them. How in the name of all that's decent, Jack, could a woman like that, obviously a person of refinement, allow a black to make love to her?" .... [from "Babe Gordon" by Mae West]
• • Broadway's Brief Black-Out on 23 October 1950 • •
• • Mae West worked with a versatile performer whose death in October caused The Gay White Way to go black as a final tribute.
• • In 1911 both Mae West and Al Jolson accepted an offer to perform in the play "Vera Violetta." The show opened on 20 November 1911 and it was a phenomenal success.
• • Al Jolson died in the month of October — — on 23 October 1950 — — in San Francisco, California at the age of 64, evidently of a heart attack. The high-profile entertainer was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. On the day he died, the bright lights of Broadway were turned off for 10 minutes in his honor.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "If you put your foot in it, be sure it's your best foot."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article on a surreal museum exhibit mentioned Mae West.
• • Bangkok-based journalist Ezra Kyrill Erker writes: Melting clocks. An elephant carrying an obelisk, walking on long spindly legs. A flying snail carrying an angel. A woman aflame, with drawers coming out of her body. A unicorn with blood on its horn. A sofa in the shape of Mae West's lips . . . .
• • Source: Article: "The distorted realities of Multi-sensory exhibitions at Singapore's ArtScience Museum explore two minds behind artistic genius" written by Ezra Kyrill Erker for The Bangkok Post; posted on 23 October 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2092nd 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 • • 1931 • •
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