Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mae West: Rumba Number

MAE WEST had a thing for swing, a groove for the blues, and a passion for Latin. No wonder the Rumba King appeared in two of her motion pictures (albeit briefly).
• • Talented and versatile, Xavier Cugat died in Barcelona of heart failure during the month of October — — on 27 October 1990 — — after 90 years of hard work, many successes, and five marriages.
• • Born in Spain in 1900 and raised in Cuba, the musically gifted hispanic relocated to Los Angeles, where he toiled as a cartoonist for The Los Angeles Times by day while he struggled to put together a band after hours. After paying his dues with gigs at smaller clubs, in 1928 he got a big break with a booking at the high-flying Coconut Grove nightspot. Even more fortunately, his style of music found fans and propelled him forward. The composer and bandleader appeared in several notable MGM musicals during the 1940s.
• • In "Go West Young Man" [1936] Cugat played the role of the Orchestra Leader in 'Drifting Lady' — — how many remembered that?
• • In "The Heat's On" [1943] he portrayed himself again, that is, an Orchestra Leader.
• • Like Mae West, Xavier Cugat has a presence on the Walk of Fame.
• • On 27 October 2009 in The New York Observer • •
• • "Mae West Wrote Plays; Pity We Can Only Read Them" was the title of an intriguing book review written by Rick Whitaker, which was published on 27 October 1997 in the peach-colored newspaper The New York Observer. The title under discussion was this: "Three Plays by Mae West: 'Sex,' 'The Drag' and 'The Pleasure Man'," edited by Lillian Schlissel [Routledge, 246 pages]. A good book to own.
• • On 27 October 2009 in Canyon News • •
• • Many moons ago, Michael St. John interviewed Mae West. On 27 October 2009 he decided to share an intimate peak with the Hollywood legend with readers of Canyon News. Here is an excerpt from his article: "My Time with Mae West."
• • Tune in on Michael St. John writing about his time in Hollywood and his visit to her apartment: In my book "Hollywood Through the Back Door," I included something of my experience with Ms. West. . . . When Mae West finally made her grand entrance, she was dressed completely in white, looking amazingly youthful and unbelievably stunning. “Well, Michael,” she purred, “you made it — — hope I didn’t keep ya’ waitin’ long.”
• • Michael St. John continues: Hearing that familiar speech pattern and rhythm gave me chills of excitement. All the characters I had seen her portray on the screen suddenly came to mind. Somehow, she picked up that I was one of those worshipping fans, and quickly tried to put me at ease.
• • “Relax, sweetie,” Mae West insisted, “there’s no rush. Anything good, I mean really good, takes time. If you know what I mean.”
• • Mae: "After I leave the bathroom, you can go in and fry an egg!" • •
• • Michael St. John reveals: Mae had me totally under her spell, so much so, I had difficulty posing my first question. As I was about to ask about the time she spent in jail for lewd conduct in New York City, she asked me how old did I think she looked. Oh, no — — why in hell did she have to ask a question like that! After all, I knew she was in her 80s — — what was I suppose to say? I don’t know how I managed, but I indicated that she looked like a woman in her 40s. Well, she was horrified! She made it very clear that most people believe she still looks at least 25. My god, the woman is crazy, I thought. She looks fantastic, but 25! When I asked Mae how she managed to look so young, she said with great pride: “I take an enema every single day of my life — — after I leave the bathroom, you can go in and fry an egg.”
• • Michael St. John recalls: Quite early in the interview, I learned that Mae enjoyed talking about sex. She claimed that Cary Grant was a beautiful looking man, but was nothing to brag about in bed. “He was like a nice piece of jewelry.” She offered this comparison: “It’s nice to have around your neck for an occasion, but I wouldn’t want to make it a habit.” When she mentioned Anthony Quinn, for some reason, she wouldn’t reveal too many details, except that the actor gave her a night she would never forget. ...
• • There's more to this candid interview and it seems that Michael St. John has a good memory.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West wrote these lines for her character Lady Lou: "You know, it was a toss up whether I go in for diamonds or sing in the choir. The choir lost." [From "She Done Him Wrong" by Mae West]
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about a politician Down Under was cheeky enough to mention Mae West.
• • Writing from Perth, Australia, Tony Wright begins his Op-Ed like this: Kevin Rudd, having talked himself to a rasp but certainly not a standstill, batted his eyes and requested his audience forgive him his husky ''Mae West voice.'' Mae West! The juxtaposition of the luminous and pneumatic Hollywood siren West with Kevin Rudd initially seemed about as fitting as inserting human rights and the Commonwealth in the same discourse, though Rudd, naturally, managed it. He opened yesterday's pre-Commonwealth Heads of Government talkfest by attending a press conference . . . .
• • Source: Op-Ed: "Husky-voiced Rudd does a Mae West" written by Tony Wright for The Sydney Morning Herald; posted on: 27 October 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2096th 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 • • 1936 • •
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