Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mae West: Dorothy Dandridge

MAE WEST shares a permanent tribute in Hollywood with Dorothy Dandridge.
• • Dorothy Dandridge [1922 — 1965] • •
• • Born in Cleveland, Ohio in November — — on 9 November 1922 — — beautiful Dorothy Jean Dandridge made a name for herself first as a child performer who toured on the so-called "chitlin' circuit" with her sister, and later as an actress and a vocalist. When the girls got older, their act "The Dandridge Sisters" were booked at the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theatre in Manhattan.
• • When she was 32 years old, Miss Dandridge became the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for the title role in "Carmen Jones" (a movie based on the successful Broadway musical of 1943); the film version was released in October 1954. For the musical numbers, Dandridge's voice was dubbed by Marilyn Horne, a trained opera singer. [In 1954, Grace Kelly won the Oscar for Best Actress.]
• • Unfortunately, the motion pictures Dandridge had been cast in were not always box office hits. By the end of 1961, job offers were scarce. Other disappointments and hardships were a divorce in 1962; a serious swindle by her management team that forced her into debt for back taxes; and the institutionalization of her only child, a daughter Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas, who was born in 1943 brain-damaged. Alone in West Hollywood and down on her luck, supposedly Dorothy Dandridge had a breakdown.
• • Earl Mills started orchestrating her comeback and booked her in a prestigious place, Basin Street East in midtown Manhattan. But before she could get on a plane to NYC, Dorothy Dandridge died in West Hollywood of an overdose on 8 September 1965. She was only 42 years old.
• • She has received recognition on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1994, the Walk of Fame was extended one block to the west on Hollywood Boulevard, from Sycamore Avenue to North LaBrea Avenue (plus the short segment of Marshfield Way that connects Hollywood and La Brea) — — where it now ends at the silver "Four Ladies of Hollywood" gazebo. Dorothy Dandridge was selected to be the African-American figure.
• • • The Four Ladies of Hollywood Gazebo • • •
• • The "gateway" to Hollywood Boulevard at LaBrea features a 30-ft. high stainless steel gazebo designed by movie industry production designer, Catherine Hardwicke.
• • Four Ladies, Four Races: Caucasian, Latino, Asian, Black: Four actresses elegantly adorn this shiny steel gateway: Mae West, Dolores del Rio, Anna May Wong, and Dorothy Dandridge.
• • Anyone who looks closely will see, at the tippy top of the gazebo, above the neon Hollywood sign, a likeness of Marilyn Monroe.
• • In November, Let's Remember Ed Wynn [1886 — 1966] • •
• • In October 1918, when she was 26 years old, Mae West was in the cast of a Broadway show, and she learned a lot because she was a careful observer.
• • While playing opposite the seasoned 32-year-old cut-up in Arthur Hammerstein's Broadway hit "Sometime" (with a music score by Rudolf Friml), Mae came to the realization that she was throwing away her lines. Studying the crafty comic timing of Ed Wynn, said Mae West, and watching how he made sure he caught the audience's attention before delivering a line, was the best lesson. Her character in this production was Mayme Dean, his was Loney Bright.
• • Born in Philadelphia during the month of November — — on 9 November 1886 — — Ed Wynn [1886 — 1966] was a popular American comedian and actor noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character, his pioneering radio show of the 1930s, and his later career as a dramatic actor. Wynn became a headliner in vaudeville in the early-1910s, and was a star of the Ziegfeld Follies starting in 1914. Today we pay tribute to a legend on his birthday.
• • Is that a gun in your pocket? • •
• • West Coast film critic Kevin Thomas writes: Once when Owney Madden wanted to visit Los Angeles, Mae West cleared the way with a word with another of her great friends, then-Los Angeles District Attorney Buron Fitts. It was Buron Fitts, by the way, who indirectly inspired one of West's most quoted lines. Too busy to meet her at the railroad station, Fitts sent over the handsomest deputy he could find, ordering him to give her a big kiss, saying "This is from Buron" — — to which West replied: "Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?" [Source: "Remember Her Sometime" by Kevin Thomas for The L.A. Times; printed on 8 August 1993]
• • On 9 November 1920 • •
• • When her divorce from Guido Deiro became final on 9 November 1920, Mae West quietly decided that she would never walk down the aisle again.
• • In November 1997 • •
• • Washington, DC based reporter Glen Elsasser wrote an article "Mae West's Powerful Image Lives On, 60 Years After Her Heyday" during the month of November for the Chicago Tribune in 1997.
• • Glen Elsasser began his affectionate newspaper piece with this sentence: Her quips, backed by the full-figured image, somehow manage to survive our throwaway culture. ...
• • "Part of her appeal is she's funny," said Emily Wortis Leider, her latest biographer. Leider's new book, "Becoming Mae West" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), chronicles the formative and little-known years of the actress' early life. ...
• • "Becoming Mae West" by Emily Wortis Leider belongs on your bookshelf.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • In 1934, Mae West said: "If young girls knew more about love — — and didn't take it so seriously — — it would be better for them."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about luxurious hotels in Mazatlan, Mexico mentioned Mae West.
• • Bob Schulman writes: A lot less preserved (to put it kindly) but in the process of being restored is the nearby Belmar, the grandest of Mazatlan's hotels. Opened in 1920, her then-opulent guest rooms, lush gardens and elegant ballrooms were filled with Hollywood superstars like John Barrymore, Rudolph Valentino, and Mae West and, a little later on, John Wayne, Tyrone Power, Rock Hudson and Gregory Peck. ...
• • Source: Article: "Gold, Booze And Tourists: Mazatlan's Plazuela Machado" written by Bob Schulman for The Huff Post; posted on 8 November 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2109th 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:
Add to Google
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • on the gazebo, c. 1999 • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.

No comments:

Post a Comment