In "Belle of the Nineties" , MAE WEST worked briefly with Harry Woods who was cast as the character Slade.
• • Born in Cleveland, Ohio on 5 May 1889, Harry Lewis Woods chose to make a living, at first, by selling millinery to ladies who tried on these fanciful creations in front of a mirror. By 1923, the 34-year-old would find his true calling in front of a camera.
• • During the silent era, he appeared in several Westerns. In 1926, however, he was cast as the jealous bridegroom Norman Blood in a 60-minute comedy "A Trip to Chinatown" [released in June 1926 by Fox Film Corporation]. The play that this silent movie is based on was one of the biggest Broadway successes of its time, and is best remembered for turning the Charles Harris song "After the Ball" into a smash hit in the 1890s.
• • Still capitalizing on the "Trip to Chinatown" craze, clever showmen reworked the play once again and presented it at the Moulin Rouge under a new title: "A Winsome Widow." Nineteen-year-old brunette Mae West was featured in the show "A Winsome Widow" as La Petite Daffy in 1912.
• • Harry Woods swiftly transitioned into talkies and his intimidating scowl, imposing build, snarling voice, and tough-customer persona became somewhat of a calling card in Tinseltown. Roy Barcroft, a most memorable heavy in numerous Republic Pictures adventure dramas, serials, and cowboy capers, once told a reporter: "Everything I know about being a bad guy I learned from Harry Woods."
• • "Send in Slade or Dirk or anybody!" — — "Belle of the Nineties"
• • Between 1923 — 1961, Harry Woods racked up over 250 credits in Hollywood features. More often than not, Woods was cast in Westerns during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s as well as crime dramas. In 1953 he made his television debut in "The Lone Ranger," "The Adventures of Kit Carson," and then "Ramar of the Jungle." He guest starred on several TV series with a boots and saddle flavor such as "Broken Arrow," "Frontier Doctor," "Gunsmoke," and "Lawman." He had a continuing role as Doc Cunningham on "Tombstone Territory" and appeared twice on "Bat Masterson," a quirky TV series [1958 — 1961] starring Gene Barry as a dandified gambler and lawman. Gene Barry had worked with Mae West on Broadway in "Catherine Was Great."
• • Harry Woods was active on the small screen until 1961 and died in Los Angeles of uremia in the month of December — — on 28 December 1968. He was age 79.
• • In December, Let's Remember Kathleen Clifford [1887 — 1962] • •
• • Born in Charlottesville, Virginia on 16 February 1887, Kathleen Clifford was an American vaudeville and Broadway stage and film actress of the early twentieth century.
• • As with "Baby Mae," Kathleen Clifford's career acting was initially built on the vaudeville stages as a comedienne. Renowned for her impersonations of men, Kathleen Clifford was often humorously billed as "The Smartest Chap in Town."
• • In 1912, a large cast was hired for the Florenz Ziegfeld musical production "A Winsome Widow" [staged on Broadway from April — September 1912]. Kathleen Clifford was hired to play a male role: Willie Grow. Mae West won acclaim as La Petite Daffy in the same production.
• • Miss Clifford died in the month of December — — on 28 December 1962. She was 75.
• • In December, Let's Remember Jerry Orbach [1935 — 2004] • •
• • In Manhattan, a stretch of West 53rd Street at Eighth Avenue has been renamed for the six-foot-two actor who was respected on Broadway, on the silver screen, and on the tube. Like Mae, Jerry was a native New Yorker — — and his widow, Elaine Orbach, unveiled the new street sign in his hometown on Monday 17 September 2007.
• • Jerome Bernard Orbach was born in the Bronx [on 20 October 1935] to a Polish Catholic mother from Pennsylvania and a German Jewish father whose ancestry was Spanish Sephardic.
• • In 1952, the 17-year-old had just graduated from high school when he appeared in summer stock at the Chevy Chase Playhouse in Wheeling, Illinois. Orbach's first troupe mates were Mae West, Vincent Price, and John Ireland.
• • In 1960, he created the role of El Gallo in "The Fantasticks,'' singing the catchy theme song "Try to Remember [That Time in September]'' that opened this off-Broadway musical, which ran for 40 years at the Sullivan Street Playhouse.
• • For awhile, when in need of a job, Orbach worked as a chauffeur for Mae West in Hollywood.
• • After a long battle with prostate cancer, Jerry Orbach died in Manhattan in the month of December — — on 28 December 2004. He was 69.
• • On 28 December 1919 on Broadway • •
• • It was 28 December 1919 and Mae West was very busy in Manhattan — — double-booked, in fact.
• • The 26-year-old "firefly of vaudeville" was appearing that night at the Lyric Theatre [on 42nd Street, west of Broadway]. Sharing the Lyric bill with her were these entertainers: Eugene and Willie, the Howard Brothers; Carl McCullough; the 4 Haley Sisters; and "8 other favorite acts."
• • On the same night, Mae West performed at the 44th Street Theatre [near Broadway]. On the program was the top-billed act — — Sophie Tucker and Her Kings of Syncopation — — along with Ames & Winthrop, Mae West, Riggs & Witchie, and "8 other favorite acts."
• • On 28 December 1997 in Chicago Tribune • •
• • In his article for the Chicago Tribune, "Mae West Was Best Of Bad Girls," published on 28 December 1997, reporter Glen Elsasser wrote: Her quips, backed by the full-figured image, somehow manage to survive our throwaway culture. She was, after all, the progenitor of so many memorable lines. "Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?'' she famously teased a movie gangster (sic). Among her other well-traveled remarks, obviously intended to promote her reputation as a woman of the world, are such quotables as:
• • • "When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.''
• • • "When women go wrong, men go right after them.''
• • • "Between two evils, I always picked the one I never tried before.''
• • • "Come up and see me sometime.''
• • Glen Elsasser continued: Mae West died at age 87 in 1980, after a career unique in the annals of show business. But her surreal charm as queen of the double entendre endures. Time has been kind and spun her life story and oeuvre into an icon — — the subject of a nonstop flow of books, articles, and scholarly studies.
• • "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.
• • "I think she appeals to feminists, although I don't think she was a feminist by any standard and didn't like other women,'' Emily Wortis Leider added. "She's so powerful on the screen, always the focal point and always bigger than anyone else.'' ...
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "In an Ed Wynn show, I did a shimmy. But never, never did I do the shimmy shewabble!''
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about a new Broadway play had mentioned Mae West.
• • William Safire wrote: Why is this subject fit for the op-ed page? Because I interviewed the real Mae West, boys, before she had a wrinkle on her face, and well remember the lesson she taught a cub reporter about living up to a legend.
• • William Safire explained: It was 1949; she was in her late 50s, starring on Broadway in Diamond Lil. Her leading man was not her film discovery Cary Grant, to whom she had famously vamped "Come up and see me sometime,'' but the actor who also played Captain Video on small-screen television.
• • William Safire continued (from here until the end): My boss at The New York Herald Tribune, the columnist Tex McCrary, thought it would be a kick to send a 19-year-old kid to interview the sex goddess. I was ushered into the ornate hotel suite by her maid, who I presume was named Beulah and could peel grapes.
• • Mae West, from her reclining position on a chaise longue, looked up at me with an expression of "Have I sunk to this? They're sending the office boy?'' Worse, my first question was painfully puerile: What was it like to play opposite the hero of thousands of kids, Captain Video? She thought about that. Then, coming to a decision, she changed her expression. Batting those long false eyelashes, she looked at the ceiling and murmured, "Mmmm ... suppose you ask Captain Video ... mmmm ... how does it feel to play opposite ... Mae West!''
• • She had caught the editor's angle, as I had not: Send an innocent to the symbol of sin. She would play along for publicity's sake, presuming her persona would sell more tickets than her person.
• • I asked why she had turned to her first director, Edward Elsner, to stage her shocking Sex; he was famed for directing the actress Maude Adams, no sex symbol.
• • "I wanted a director that wasn't too young, one that knew all the old tricks, because ... mmmm ... I knew all the new ones. The first man I went to said I didn't stick to a formula. He wasn't my man. The second guy just sputtered that my play was immoral and salacious. He wasn't my man, either. ..."
• • Source: Article: "I Remember Mae West" written by William Safire for The N.Y. Times; posted on 23 May 2000
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2159th 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 • • in 1934 • •
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