Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mae West: Louise Beavers

When Will Hays suggested toning down references to Lady Lou's past affairs, MAE WEST cleverly added a maid character (played by Louise Beavers) who knew of her past so the two could discuss it in a series of veiled references in the Pre-Code hit "She Done Him Wrong" [1933].
• • Born on 8 March 1902 in Cincinnati, Ohio, when Louise Beavers was 11, her family relocated to Pasadena. Her mother, a voice teacher, trained her daughter for the concert stage. But the girl chose the low road over high culture, joining an all-female minstrel group called "Lady Minstrels" and even touring for awhile in vaudeville. She inched closer to a Tinseltown career when she was hired as a personal maid and assistant to Paramount star Leatrice Joy (and later the actress Lilyan Tashman). By 1924 she supplemented her maid's salary with a few walk-on parts. Subsequently, a talent scout selected her for a more noticeable role in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" [1927]. In 1932, because Mae West knew her personally, she invited Louise to play Pearl, personal maid to the sultry Bowery singer Lady Lou.
• • After about 100 roles for the silver screen, her film offers dried up in 1952. Fortunately, the short and stout character actress managed to transfer her talents to a new medium: television. She was one of a number of black performers hired to play the sensible, warm-hearted, wise-cracking, problem-solving maid "Beulah" [for 5 episodes in 1952) during its run. "Beulah" was one of the first sit-coms to star a black actress; though she was still in a maid's uniform, she was the heroine of the show.
• • During the mid-1950s, the five-foot-four actress put on a frilly apron and reprised this role as maid and right-hand gal in "The Mae West Revue," traveling the circuit with Mae and the musclemen.
• • Louise Beavers had a heart attack in Hollywood and died in the month of October — — on 26 October 1962. She was 60 years old.
• • In October, Let's Remember Hattie McDaniel [1892 — 1952] • •
• • Born in Wichita, Kansas on 10 June 1892, Hattie McDaniel was billed in the credits of "I'm No Angel" as Tira's Maid-Manicurist. After a remarkable career, Ms. McDaniel died at age 60 in the month of October — — on 26 October 1952 in Woodland Hills, California.
• • On 26 October 1995 • •
• • "Mae West and the Men Who Knew Her" [57 minutes] — — the VHS format was released on 26 October 1995.

• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West wrote these lines for her character Lady Lou: "I always did like a man in a uniform. That one fits you grand." [From "She Done Him Wrong" by Mae West]
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about a TV show mentioned Mae West.
• • Paul Merton explains: On his last night he gets some advice from 6-foot Colombian transsexual Catalina who helps him go out in style. “It’s a touch Mae West, a touch Diana Dors,” Paul Merton says of his new persona Elastica, who makes quite a splash. ...
• • Source: Article: "Paul Merton’s Adventures" written by Paul Merton for The Daily Express [U.K.]; published on 26 October 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2095th 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 • • 1932 costumed by Edith Head • •
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