Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mae West: Favorites

Which is your favorite book about MAE WEST?
• • There has been a University of Chicago doctoral dissertation by Pamela Robertson that Duke University Press published in book form under the title "Guilty Pleasures: Feminist Camp from Mae West to Madonna."
• • Another doctoral dissertation, by Princeton University grad student Marybeth Hamilton titled "When I'm Bad, I'm Better: Mae West, Sex, and American Entertainment" was reissued as a paperback by HarperCollins.
• • Too Much of a Good Thing . . . • •
• • In her book (printed by University of Minnesota Press) about the movie queen, "Too Much of a Good Thing: Mae West as Cultural Icon," Ramona Curry predicted that Mae West's popularity will not fade. She wrote: "As expansive and adaptable and profitable as the image has proven over most of the 20th Century, it is likely that Mae West will continue to circulate as an emblem of what is both forbidden and accessible."
• • Tell us your favorite title(s).
• • Tres Chic: A charming Mae Tray • •
• • This decoupage Mae tray is handcrafted by Suffolk County, New York artist, Ben Busko, who creates glass trays out of vintage maps and with endearing quotes.
• • After coloring and producing cheerful cards (designed around a motto or saying) since he was a child of eight in Setauket, Long Island, Ben Busko has branched out. The 27-year-old North Shore Long Islander currently owns Ben's Garden stores in Oyster Bay and Huntington Village, shops that sell his greeting cards and other household decor — — handmade découpage artworks he and his team create by hand.
• • Image: Ben Busko's Mae West Tray
— — "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."
• • In November, Let's Remember Tommy Gray [1888 — 1924] • •
• • The "Bard of Broadway" was born in New York City, Mae's hometown in the month of March — — on 22 March 1888.
• • Talented and prolific, Thomas J. Gray was a lyricist and an author who had attended Holy Cross School and was a charter member of ASCAP (1914). He served overseas during World War I, and later wrote scripts for silent movies, songs for Broadway and London revues, plus special material for Mae West, Bert Williams, Blossom Seeley, Frank Tinney, Savoy & Brennan, Trixie Friganza, and many others. His column "Gray Matters" ran in Variety and his byline appeared in the New York Dramatic Mirror as well. His chief musical collaborators included Fred Fisher and Ray Walker.
• • Booked at Hammerstein's Victoria in September 1912, Mae performed jokes and songs that she commissioned from Tommy: "Isn't She a Brazen Thing?", "It's an Awful Easy Way to Make a Living," "The International Rag Song," and "Good Night, Nurse."
• • In 1913, Variety raved: "Thanks to Tommy Gray and her own comedic ability, Miss West looks set as a big-time feature."
• • Bronchitis cut short his brilliant career. Tommy died in November — — on 30 November 1924. He was 36 years old.
• • Though Mae often did not pay his bills until a judge intervened, and she was taken to court more than once by Tommy, she attended his funeral at St. Malachy's in midtown, a standing-room-only affair.
• • 30 November 1948 in The N.Y. Times • •
• • Mae West revived "Diamond Lil" for a Montclair, New Jersey audience. Brooks Atkinson responded to her performance in The New York Times on 30 November 1948: "A fine, full-bosomed woman with lots of glitter and gaudiness, Mae is an original unclassified phenomenon . . . ."
• • 30 November 1969 • •
• • Mae West was featured in The N.Y. Times Magazine on 30 November 1969.
• • 30 November 1980 • •
• • An affectionate remembrance by Richard Meryman, "The One and Only Mae West," was printed in The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner on 30 November 1980.
• • November 1994 in The Collector • •
• • An article "Sex Legend's Apartment Sale" appeared in the November 1994 issue of a magazine, The Collector.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."
• • Oscar Wilde said: "Nothing succeeds like excess." Oscar Wilde [16 October 1854 — 30 November 1900] was an Irish writer and poet. Wilde died of cerebral meningitis at the end of the eleventh month — — on 30 November 1900. Like Mae, he appeared on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper." And like the controversial Brooklynite, Mr. Wilde was hounded and dragged through courtroom trial. In Paris, the Oscar Wilde tomb at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris has traditionally been covered in lip prints left by his adoring fans. A new glass barrier has been erected, however, preventing guests from kissing the tomb and "causing damage."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Would Mae West have been susceptible to the charms of the romantic menace from Venice, Giacomo Casanova [2 April 1725 — 4 June 1798]?
• • Book reviewer Elizabeth Benedict thinks so. Ms. Benedict wrote this: Had the great matchmaker in the sky arranged for Giacomo Casanova and Mae West to meet, they surely would have been notches on each other's holsters, reveling in West's motto: "Too much of a good thing is wonderful.'' In this fecund season of Casanova — — a dazzling new biography, "Casanova: The Man Who Really Loved Women,'' and the paperback of his 12-volume autobiography have just appeared — — we learn that it was not only seduction and dalliance that filled his calendar. By the time this Venetian-born Proteus died, in a castle in Bohemia in 1798, he had had a dozen careers . . . .
• • Source: Book Review: "A Real Casanova: The Man Who Gave His Name to Love Was Far, Far More than a Dashing Roue" written by Elizabeth Benedict for The Boston Globe; published on Sunday, 30 November 1997
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2131st 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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