Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mae West: Oscar Levant

Oscar Levant's scatological comments and controversial wisecracks about MAE WEST's sex life got his talk show cancelled for good in 1960. Unrestrained witticisms had gotten him in trouble before on the air, therefore, the network decided to add a safety net by taping the syndicated "Oscar Levant Show," to enable the engineers to weed out the outrageous. Probably aware that his shocking off-the-cuff opinions were the very reason viewers tuned in from 1958 1960 to his 10 PM program, Oscar continued to riff on Mae's enema habits or speculate on her lovers and her bi-racial open-door policy.
• • One individual claimed to recall a few of Oscar's offensive one-liners: "Now that Marilyn Monroe has converted to Judaism, Arthur Miller can eat her!"; "Zsa Zsa Gabor is busy again, doing social work among the rich!"; and "Mae West, of course, is a pro's pro. Mae would never give it away!" — — and one final crack about Mae's bed partners got the TV executives to pull the plug.
• • Born into a musical and Orthodox Jewish Russian family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the month of December — — on 27 December 1906 — — Oscar Levant moved to New York with his mother, Annie, in 1922 after the death of his father, Max. Oscar Levant gained fame as an American pianist, composer, author, humorist, and actor. He was equally known for his mordant character, off-color observations, and unpredictable digs on the air as for his music. Frequently institutionalized by his wife June, Levant had the knack of making an audience laugh and feel very uncomfortable at the same time.
• • A fatal heart attack stilled the voice of Oscar Levant. He died in Beverly Hills, California on 14 August 1972, and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. He was 65.
• • In December, Let's Remember Louis Bromfield [1896 — 1956] • •
• • Born Lewis Brumfield in Ohio in the month of December — — on 27 December 1896 — — the 6' 2" inch journalist won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Early Autumn [1926], and then turned to writing fulltime. His short story "Single Night" (set in Larry Fay's Napoleon Club) became the backbone of the Paramount film "Night After Night" [released on 30 October 1932]. Two months after the film was distributed to moviehouses across the country, bootlegger Larry Fay met a spectacularly crimson-soaked death inside the Napoleon Club, 33 West 56th Street, on 1 January 1933.
• • Author and farmer Louis Bromfield had a more serene death, at age 60, on 18 March 1956.

• • In December, Let's Remember Sam Coslow [1902 — 1982] • •
• • Born in Mae's hometown, New York City, Sam Coslow was born in December — — on 27 December 1902. He attended Erasmus Hall High School and he was still in his teens when he began writing songs. For instance, "My Old Flame" was written in 1934, with Arthur Johnston, for the Mae West film "Belle of the Nineties." His music made it into many Hollywood movies.
• • The composer died in New York, NY on 2 April 1982.
• • In December, Let's Remember Marlene Dietrich [1901 — 1992] • •
• • When Mae West was starring in "My Little Chickadee," a comedy set in the old West, Universal Pictures was also producing a Western-themed musical comedy "Destry Rides Again" [which debuted in New York on 30 November 1939]. Though the title would seem to be weighted in the direction of two actors — — James Stewart in the title role as Tom Destry, Jr. and Charles Winninger as his deputy Washington Dimsdale — — Dietrich owns the movie. This vehicle became a career reviving performance for the fishnet stockinged bar singer Frenchie, sexy and memorable despite wearing a truly hideous wig.
• • Born in Germany in the month of December — — on 27 December 1901 — — Marlene Dietrich was an actress and a singer who knew Mae West when they were both stars at Paramount Pictures.
• • The screen queens were photographed on the set of "My Little Chickadee" in 1939. Dietrich was posing in her Frenchie costume and Mae was made up as Flower Belle Lee.
• • Marlene Dietrich died in Paris of natural causes on 6 May 1992.
• • On 27 December 2002 in Chicago Tribune • •
• • Chicago Tribune readers spotted "The Party Continues" written by Nancy Maes as they ploughed through the newspaper on 27 December 2002.
• • Nancy Maes wrote: The theme of the next round classic Hollywood films in the Lunchtime Matinee series is "The Party Continues." It includes "Top Hat," (1935) starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (Monday); "Holiday" (1938) with Katharine Hepburn (the name as published has been corrected in this text), Thursday; and "My Little Chickadee," (1940) featuring Mae West and W.C. Fields. The series complements the "Matinee Idols and Movie Queens," exhibition at the Chicago Tourism Center. Lunchtime Matinee, all films at noon, Chicago Tourism Center, 72 E. Randolph St., free.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "You're never too old to become younger."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article on John Kobal and "Made in Hollywood" mentioned Mae West.
• • Philippa Hawker wrote: While John Kobal was an avid collector, he was scrupulous about standards: he had a critical eye, Crocker says, and the images he amassed were of the best quality. The collection soon became an important resource and archive for historians, scholars and filmmakers. Andy Warhol
always an ardent admirer of the old Hollywood was among those who drew on Kobal's images.
• • Philippa Hawker continued: John Kobal's interest was first in the photographs, then in the photographers themselves. He was on the set of "Myra Breckenridge," the notorious 1970 vehicle for an older Mae West. A photographer named George Hurrell, who first worked for MGM in 1930, was on set to take pictures of Mae West. Kobal was amazed to discover that the man whose images he admired was there, in front of him, still at work. ...
• • "Made in Hollywood" is at the Bendigo Art Gallery (Australia) from 3 December 2011 to 12 February 2012 . . .
• • Source: Article: "Made in Hollywood" written by Philippa Hawker for the Sydney Morning Herald; posted on 19 November 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2158th 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/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1932 • •
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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:10 PM

    Would love to see your comments on Mae's fabulous interview with Dick Cavett