Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mae West: Dick Elliott

Dick Elliott worked with MAE WEST and, though his role was minor in "Go West Young Man" [1936], you may recall his portly presence.
• • Born in Salem, Massachusetts on 30 April 1886, Richard Damon Elliott's full adult height was 5' 4½" and he was fat, with a huge jelly belly that a professional Santa would envy. Much later on in his career, with the advent of TV, Elliott would play Saint Nick on the Jimmy Durante, Andy Griffith, Red Skelton, and Jack Benny shows. But instead of emitting the typically genial ho-ho-ho baritone of an American Santa Claus, Elliott's bag of tricks included a high-pitched laugh that sliced the air like a buzzsaw.
• • Elliott was known to Broadway audiences for nearly thirty years, and had appeared in the blockbuster hit "Abie's Irish Rose," before his cinema debut in 1933. During the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s he appeared in over 200 motion pictures and in frequent guest spots on TV especially on "The Andy Griffith Show," where he was seen as Mayberry's amusing Mayor Pike for eleven episodes.
• • In "Go West Young Man" he was given the brief role of a reporter for the Union News Service. More often, however, he was put to use on screen as the intrusive, obnoxious soul who irritates the film's principal characters with his hyena laughing jags or noisy, boorish, occasionally "helpful" behavior. His face was often seen (for a moment or two) as a judge, truant officer, sheriff, policeman, druggist, hotel manager, or other authority figure.
• • So little did this character actor matter to the people who maintain the Internet Movie Database that they kept adding TV credits for him until 1970, though he was dead nine years earlier.
• • Dick Elliott breathed his last in Burbank, California in the month of December — — on 22 December 1961. Remembered as a loving husband and father, he lived to be 75 and worked right until the end, i.e., 1961 (not 1970).
• • In December, Let's Remember James B. Carson [1884 — 1958] • •
• • Actor James B. Carson [1884 — 1958] worked with Mae West in "Vera Violetta," which opened on 20 November 1911 at the Winter Garden Theatre. The Broadway veteran was cast as Professor Otto von Gruenberg. It was in the month of December
— — on 22 December 1884 — — that Carson was born in Missouri. He was active on The Great White Way from 1908 — 1928.
• • James B. Carson died on 18 November 1958. He was 73 years old.
• • "Vera Violetta," offered in repertory with "Undine," remained at the Winter Garden Theatre through the Christmas holidays, closing on 24 February 1912.
• • After the clash with Gaby Deslys, Mae West's part as Miss Angelique from the Opera Comique was awarded to Kathleen Clifford, who also worked with Mae on Broadway in "A Winsome Widow" [April — September 1912].
• • In December, Let's Remember Gilda Gray [1901 — 1959] • •
• • Though Mae West staked her claim on the shimmy-shewabble, alas, so did Gilda Gray, who was eight years younger, lithe, lean, and long-legged — — and inclined to shake her chemise.
• • Gilda Gray [24 October 1901 — 22 December 1959] was a Polish born American actress and dancer who became famous in the US for popularizing a dance called the "shimmy" which became fashionable in 1920s motion pictures and theatrical productions.
• • Unfortunately, Gilda described the "shimmy" as "a native dance," giving Mae the chance to scoff to reporters, "Native to where? She's Polish!"
• • In 1931 the highly paid golden girl suffered her first heart attack perhaps due to the turmoil surrounding financial reverses after the Wall Street crash and messy romantic entanglements.
• • By the time of her death at the age of 58 from a second heart attack three days before Christmas — — on 22 December 1959 — — Gilda Gray was once again in financial trouble and dire straits. The Motion Picture Relief Fund paid for her funeral.
• • On 22 December 2003 in The N.Y. Times • •
• • Those who read The New York Times on 22 December 2003 and tried to do the daily crossword puzzle, saw this clue: "Mae West, for one."
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big, black space where the audience is."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An obituary for Doe Avedon mentioned she toured with Mae West.
• • Mike Barnes writes: Doe Avedon was also married to photographer Richard Avedon, and their love story was the basis of 1957 Audrey Hepburn musical "Funny Face."
• • Mike Barnes continues (from here until the end): Doe Avedon, an actress who was married to "Dirty Harry" director Don Siegel and before that to fashion and portrait photographer Richard Avedon, died Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 86.
• • Her friend, Leonard Gershe, wrote the 1957 film musical Funny Face that depicted Doe and Richard's storybook love and marriage (Audrey Hepburn played the character based on Doe and Fred Astaire the one based on Richard). Avedon was working as a model when she was discovered by the photographer, and they were married from 1944 to 1951.
• • A native of Westbury, N.Y., Avedon made her debut on stage in 1948 in "The Young and the Fair," for which she was named Broadway's most promising actor. She appeared the next year in another Broadway production, 1949's "My Name Is Aquilon," starring with Jean-Pierre Aumont, Arlene Francis and Phyllis Kirk (1949), then traveled with Mae West on a nationwide tour.
• • A short while later, she married actor Dan Mathews. When he was killed in an auto accident, she resumed her acting career. She appeared in the John Wayne film "The High and The Mighty" (1954), the TV adaptation of the radio series "Big Town" and in "Deep in My Heart," a 1954 Broadway play that starred Jose Ferrer. Avedon gave up acting when she married Siegel in 1957. …
• • Source: Obit: "Doe Avedon, Actress and Wife of Director Don Siegel, Dies at 86" written by Mike Barnes for The Hollywood Reporter; posted on 20 December 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2153rd 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 • • in 1936 • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.

No comments:

Post a Comment