MAE WEST and Fiorello LaGuardia, born on Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village in the month of December, have a curious connection.
• • In his column "A New Yorker at Large," Mark Barron shared insights about the Brooklyn bombshell and the ambitious politician Fiorello LaGuardia [11 December 1882 — 20 September 1947]. This installment of Barron's column was published on 28 January 1934.
• • Mark Barron wrote: New York — Mayor LaGuardia turned on the producers of risque shows, charging them with deliberately inviting police interference for the publicity it would bring.
• • Why LaGuardia Owes Thanks to Mae West • •
• • Mark Barron noted: What is interesting in an ironic sort of way is the fact that it was an off-color show which led to the movement that — — by increase and addition — — eventually elected LaGuardia to his office. And, for that, some might say he owes thanks to Mae West.
• • Back in 1927, Miss West produced a play that brought a squadron of police censors tumbling about her with the turmoil of a Union Square red riot. As a result, Miss West was invited to spend a short vacation in the Welfare Island calaboose. [Mae's 1927 arrest and trial in Jefferson Market Court are dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West," which is based on true events during the Prohibition Era.]
• • Despite the avalanche of publicity, Mae was shocked, thinking that her attorney — — a Tammany district leader — — would be able to keep her this side of the steel bars.
• • A girl reporter was sent to interview Mae. In jail [i.e., Jefferson Jail — — then located on Sixth Avenue], the reporter had a conversation with a girl prisoner who charged she'd been "framed" because she would not pay a bribe to a detective on the vice squad.
• • The resultant story started the inquiry into the women's courts, and it was this inquiry that brought Judge Samuel Seabury into such high esteem in the public mind. And it was Seabury whose master minding helped put LaGuardia in the mayor's office.
• • In December, Remember Dewey Robinson [1898 — 1950] • •
• • Wearing a derby, he took the role of Spider Kane and had some scenes with Lady Lou played by Mae West.
• • Born in New Haven Connecticut on 17 August 1898, Dewey Robinson was solidly booked as a character actor for several decades. He looked right at home in Gus Jordan's Bowery saloon in "She Done Him Wrong" [filmed in 1932 when Dewey was 34].
• • According to movie maven Hal Erickson: Barrel-chested American actor Dewey Robinson was much in demand during the gangster cycle of the early 1930s. Few actors could convey muscular menace and mental vacuity as quickly and as well as the mountainous Mr. Robinson. Most of his roles were bits, but he was given extended screen time as a polo-playing mobster in Edward G. Robinson's "Little Giant" (1933), as a bored slavemaster in the outrageously erotic "No More Love" number in Eddie Cantor's "Roman Scandals" (1933), and as a plug-ugly ward heeler at odds with beauty contest judge Ben Turpin in the slapstick 2-reeler "Keystone Hotel" (1935).
• • Hard-working Dewey Robinson, who appeared in over 250 films between 1931 — 1950, died in Las Vegas, Nevada in the month of December — — on 11 December 1950. A fatal myocardial infarction finished him off. The cinema veteran was 52 years old.
• • In December, Let's Remember Maila Nurmi [1921 — 2008] • •
• • Maila Nurmi was born in Pechenga, Finland in the month of December — — on 11 December 1922.
• • When "Catherine Was Great" opened on 2 August 1944 at the Shubert Theatre, the Empress of Sex ran into other over-heated complications.
• • One of the actresses who played a Lady-in-Waiting in the czarina's court was billed as Mila Niemi. More commonly known as Maila Nurmi, the five-feet-six Finnish-American performer brought a heavy accent to the role and, apparently, an even heavier ego.
• • Maila Nurmi, 23 years old in 1944 and a striking high-cheeked beauty, was soon fired from the Broadway cast because Mae West feared she was being upstaged.
• • On 11 December 1928 • •
• • In the month of July 1927, Peter Markus, an inventor, applied for a patent for an inflatable life vest, which in press accounts was also called the "Mae West Vest" [back on 15 July 1927], and Markus was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent Office on 11 December 1928.
• • On 11 December 1939 in Hollywood • •
• • W.C. Fields sent Mae notes and script suggestions. Often these musings did not make it into the "My Little Chickadee" script.
• • In a note dated 11 December 1939 — — Dressing Room, Fields wrote:
• • Dear Mae, Eddie [Sutherland] told me that you asked him if I had any suggestions for the finish. This is it. The finish leaves us just the two of us at the end of the picture with no attempts at comedy or wise cracks from either of us. I think it will leave a nice human, homey feeling in the audience's mind. . . .
• • However, this vague, unfunny conclusion Fields sketched out was rather toothless and too wispy to be used. Wiser heads prevailed.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "It takes two to get one in trouble."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • From a capsule review of a biography of Mae West.
• • The San Francisco Chronicle noted: Here are some noteworthy new titles our critics regard highly: BECOMING MAE WEST: The Shaping of an Icon, Emily Wortis Leider (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 431 pages; $30): The San Francisco writer's serious, seamless and lively biography of the "menace to art, if not to morals," as West was dubbed in her time, doubles as a history of the New York theater world in the early part of this century. ...
• • Source: List "The The Editors Recommend" for The San Francisco Chronicle; published on 8 June 1997
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2142nd 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: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • on trial with Barry O'Neill, March 1927 • •
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