Thursday, December 01, 2011

Mae West: Henry B. Harris

Performer MAE WEST played the Irish maid Maggie O'Hara in the musical revue "A la Broadway" during September 1911. Since the 18-year-old Brooklynite was an expert mimic who could deliver her lines with dash in different Irish accents, Mae was often cast as an impudent servant off the boat from the land of shamrocks and blarney. Produced by Henry B. Harris and Jesse L. Lasky, the show ran on The Great White Way from September 22nd — September 30th for eight performances at the Folies-Bergere (210 West 46th Street, NYC).
• • PHOTO CREDIT: Mae West in 1911, courtesy of Damon Devine. Do not copy this image from his private collection without permission. Be nice.
• • Henry Birkhardt Harris was born to stage folks in St. Louis in the month of December — — on 1 December 1866. His father, a theatre manager associated with Klaw and Erlanger, moved the family to Boston, which is where his son got his first training as a theatrical gentleman, and eventually attached himself to the famous old Howard Athenaeum there. Before long he launched his own operation.
• • He was in his mid-forties when he was producing "A la Broadway" in September 1911. By then he was President of the Henry B. Harris Company and the National Producing Managers of America, Director in the Theatre Managers’ Association of Greater New York, Treasurer of the Actors' Fund of America, and Trustee of the Hebrew Infant Asylum of New York. Harris belonged to the Lambs and Green Room Clubs. At the time, his New York residence was at 50 Central Park West, and he had offices in the Hudson Theatre building.
• • A dozen years before that show, in 1898, Henry B. Harris had wed Irene ["Rene"] Wallach of Washington and she became a partner in every way. An article in The N.Y. Times explained how much Rene Harris guided him. His wife was keen on "assisting him materially in his decisions regarding plays submitted to him. He stated once that he always consulted her before accepting a play, being a firm believer in the value of a woman's point of view regarding matters theatrical. She usually accompanied him on his trips to the various cities of the United States to be present at the opening nights of Harris productions."
• • Seven months after "A la Broadway" closed, Rene and Henry Harris booked passage on the RMS Titanic. He died when the ship went down on 15 April 1912. The successful theatre owner and operator was 45 years old.
• • His obituary was printed in many newspapers. This excerpt is from Billboard:
• • New York, April 20 (Special to Billboard). — — Henry B. Harris, the well-known theatrical manager, was among those who met death in the sinking of the White Star Liner Titanic on last Monday morning. Mr. Harris was returning from Europe, accompanied by Mrs. Harris.
• • When the ship was sinking, Mr. Harris carried Mrs. Harris, who had been a victim of an accident the day before, fracturing her shoulder blade, from her cabin and placed her in one of the boats along with other women. It is said that he asked the officers if he would be allowed to accompany Mrs. Harris to attend her, but when informed that he could not stepped aside saying, "I understand. The women must go first."
• • When Mrs. Harris saw her husband last, he was calmly waving goodbye to her from the deck of the Titanic. Henry B. Harris died like a brave man. ...
• • In December, Let's Remember Aleister Crowley [1875 — 1947] • •
• • Born in Great Britain, Edward Alexander Crowley [1875 — 1947] took the more exotic first name of Aleister. The occult master has been an influence for numerous musicians throughout the 20th century.
• • The British band The Beatles included him as one of the many "heroic" figures on the cover sleeve of their 1967 album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," where he is situated between the guru Sri Yukteswar Giri and Mae West. It's been said that the title song was influenced by Aleister Crowley, who died twenty years before the release of this 1967 album. The track begins: "It's was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play . . .".
• • Aleister Crowley died in Hastings, East Sussex, England in the month of December — — on 1 December 1947. He was 72.
• • 1 December 1976 in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West starred in "Sextette" [1978], and the cinematography was done by James Crabe.
• • Shooting began in December — — on 1 December 1976 — — and was wrapped up during March 1977. James Crabe captured his leading lady in medium shots. There would be no close-ups in "Sextette" of Mae West.
• • James Crabe missed this little goof and so did the film editor. The boom microphone is visible when Mae West and Dom DeLuise are leaving the hotel gymnasium. Did you spot this?
• • In 1994, Christie's auctioned off a most intriguing bit of memorabilia: a bound copy of the stage play "Sextette" [1927] by the actress and dramatist Charlotte Francis.
• • 1 December 2009 • •
• • "Mae West: An Interview & Biography" by Clive Hirschhorn was published by the San Francisco vanity press Grand Cyrus Press on 1 December 2009.
• • Reviewing this peculiar, error-riddled paperback, Mae-maven R. Mark Desjardins wrote a very diplomatic assessment: "Clive Hirschhorn attempts a whirlwind Mae West history lesson in ninety five pages of text, but unfortunately trips and stumbles with incorrect facts along the way. Considering the considerable knowledge base Hirschhorn has amassed over the four decades of his entertainment writing career, such oversights can be considered either unforgivable, or simply confused quotes and information from films he reviewed in the past. ..."
• • Check out the other reviews and comments at, for instance:
— — "Painfully inaccurate in so many ways ..." by Damon Devine
— — "This author wrote previous Hollywood books? YIKES!" by Baby Jane Hudson
— — "This is NOT the Mae West Biography you've been waiting for" by James Stettler
• • It would seem that Mr. Desjardins spent as much time composing his review in Canada as Mr. Hirschhorn did in Britain to tape, smush, and patch this poor construct together. Moreover, nearly every photo is either mislabeled or positioned on the page without regard to chronology nor its suitability to the chapter at hand, as if tossed together by a toddler who meant to be helpful but speaks no English.
• • Not an essential part of your Mae West collection, and not a credit to the author's reputation. But do look over the comments on Amazon for instructions on how NOT to write a biography.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said this is how she stays youthful: "No secret. I go to bed early. I meditate. I eat all the correct foods, I don't smoke or drink, and I believe with a passion in myself. You can only beat nature when you show the bitch who's boss!"
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Here are quotes from a legal appeal in 1960 involving Mae West.
• • We turn now to the facts revealed by the record. The uncontroverted evidence indicated that throughout her entire career, the appellant [Mae West] had always been billed and publicized as "Mae West as Diamond Lil," or "Mae West and her own Revue," and similar designations. At no time was she ever publicized solely by the name "Diamond Lil." Appellant testified that she was famous as "Mae West" and that she had used other stage names in her career such as "The Baby Vamp," "The Siren of the Screen," "The Screen's Bad Girl," and "The Original Brinkley Girl." It was conceded that the appellant had written and copyrighted a book and stage play called "Diamond Lil" and toured extensively with the stage play. There was, however, no contention that the respondents were producing that play or any part of it or in any way infringing on the copyright. fn. * She also testified that at the time she appeared in her play "Diamond Lil," the name "Mae West" always appeared on all advertisements, programs, billings, etc., and that she had never registered "Diamond Lil" as a stage name with the American Guild of Variety Artists of which she was a member.
• • The uncontroverted evidence indicated that the respondent, Marie Lind, on entering show business had registered "Diamond Lil" as her stage name with A.G.V.A. and had used that name for several years, and that the appellant knew of this use. Marie Lind testified that she had used the name based on the clearance of A.G.V.A., and because the name was in the public domain as there had been other and earlier "Diamond Lils." The respondent, Goman, stated that when he employed Marie Lind under the name of "Diamond Lil," [186 Cal. App. 2d 567] he did not think there was a claim to the name as it had been used for many years in show business.
• • Appellant [Mae West] relying on Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences v. Benson, 15 Cal. 2d 685 [104 P.2d 650], argues that she is entitled to relief under subsection 2 of section 3369 of the Civil Code as the public identifies "Diamond Lil" exclusively with her. ...
• • Source: West v. Lind — — 186 Cal. App. 2d 563 — — [Civ. No. 19174. First Dist., Div. Two. 22 November 1960.] MAE WEST, Appellant, v. MARIE LIND et al., Respondents.
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2132nd 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 • • 1911 • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.

No comments:

Post a Comment