Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mae West: She Done Him Right

"She Done Him Right" is the title of different derivative works based on the popular movie title "She Done Him Wrong" starring MAE WEST and co-starring Cary Grant. Filmed in 1932 and released in the USA on 9 February 1933, the Paramount Pictures hit was such a box office smash that all sorts of fads, cartoons, radio skits, souvenirs, fashions, and advertisements tried to cash in on it. Even one Cary Grant bio has a chapter titled "She Done Him Right," and she did.
• • The cartoon version • •
• • Not many people have seen the black and white Walter Lantz [1899 — 1994] cartoon "She Done Him Right" starring Pooch the Pup. Almost 8 minutes long, the animated short was released in October 1933 and parodies Mae West with a canine character named Poodles.
• • The radio skit version • •
• • "The Jack Benny Program" offered a Mae West skit "She Done Him Right" at the end of one of his radio programs. Vendors who sell old time radio shows indicate that his guest was Mae West. The broadcast date is sometimes stated as the end of March (31 March 1933) and sometimes given as 17 December 1933. (Maybe both dates are correct. Possibly the December 17th date indicates a re-run.)
• • The radio skit announces that the setting for "She Done Him Right" is a Bowery barroom run by Spider Web. The first scene takes place in his saloon. Scene two is upstairs in Miss Lou's dressing room, where a black maid is heard humming "Frankie and Johnny." Miss Lou feels nervous because she has learned that her former lover, Chick Clark, has escaped from prison. "Chick flew the coop!" Jack Benny tells the audience. Nicknamed "tall, dark, and handsome" by Lou and invited to "come up sometime," Jack Benny does the Captain Cummings character. He tells the diamond-draped temptress, "I was 'mission' you, Lou!"
• • Lady Lou does not sound like Mae West in the version I listened to. Was the reproduction faulty? The muted female radio voice is not vivacious, and there is no trace of a Brooklyn accent. It is very likely that Jack's wife, Mary Livingstone did the impersonation on radio.
• • Born as Benjamin Kubelsky, Jack Benny [14 February 1894 — 26 December 1974] was an American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor for radio, TV, and film. His radio and television programs, enormously popular in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, were an influence on the sit-com. Listen to the episodes today and you will hear a bunch of unfunny jokes with annoying plugs for the sponsor
— in 1933 it was Chevrolet — intruding every few minutes.
• • In December, Let's Remember William Safire [1929 — 2009] • •
• • In 1949, William Safire, 20 years old, interviewed sex symbol and "Diamond Lil" star Mae West.
• • William Safire was born in December — — on 17 December 1929 in Mae's hometown — — New York City. The youngest of three sons of Oliver C. and Ida Panish Safir [an "e" being added on to clarify pronunciation], Safire graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and attended Syracuse University. However, he quit after his second year in 1949 to take a job with Tex McCrary, a columnist for The New York Herald Tribune who hosted radio and television shows; the young legman interviewed Mae West, Lucky Luciano, and other known names.
• • In 1978, William Safire won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished journalism. He died on 27 September 2009.
• • On 17 December 1937 • •
• • Few events make national headlines. Earthquakes and natural disasters do. Airline crashes that end the lives of hundreds do. Declarations of war do.
• • Perhaps it was meant to be a declaration of the war on immorality — — or a warning about poking fun at forbidden fruit and The Book of Genesis. The Associated Press coverage was carried by medium-sized newspapers, such as The Cornell Daily Sun on 17 December 1937 — — on the front page, above the fold.
• • Propriety of Mae West Broadcast Questioned • •
• • New York — — Mae West's broadcast with Don Ameche on the Charlie McCarthy Hour (sic) last Sunday night is to bring a statement from the National Broadcasting Company, it was indicated late today.
• • The reason therefore centers in the protests that have been pouring in by mail and otherwise. These haven't been counted, but they are described to be as "a lot." ... The script was an Adam-and-Eve comedy. ...
• • On 17 December 1937 in The L.A. Times • •
• • The Los Angeles Times, covering the backlash to the NBC skit, howled about by legions of Roman Catholic organizations, ran with this front page headline on 17 December 1937: "Mae West Radio Skit Stirs Row"; the page one article continued on page 15.
• • On 17 December 1940 in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West often inspired one-liners by reporters. In 1940, for instance, this amusing statement threaded its way down the center aisle of prime Hollywood real estate — — the "In Hollywood" gossip page.
• • "Watching Mae West stroll down the avenue, I always catch myself musing on the sway of all flesh," Jimmie Fidler wrote on 17 December 1940.
• • Jimmie Fidler [24 August 1900 — 9 August 1988] was an American columnist, journalist, and radio and television personality. He wrote a high-profile Hollywood gossip column.
• • Source for Jimmie's quote — — his column "Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood," which ran in the Los Angeles Daily Mirror.
• • On 17 December 2002 in London • •
• • Christie's held a "Film & Entertainment" auction in London on 17 December 2002.
• • Among the rare items was this: "Lot Description: Mae West."
• • Auctioned off were the following: a promissory note dated 19 March 1927, from the Moral Producing Corporation to Harold Spielberg for $1000, the reverse counter-signed in black ink by Mae West in her capacity as President of the Moral Producing Corporation; a Bowery and East River National Bank check for Moral Producing Corporation, dated 2 March 1927, made out to Harold Spielberg for the sum of $500.00, signed in black ink by Mae West; accompanied by two calling cards embossed in gold ink Mae West and one corresponding envelope; two different styles of Mae West headed stationery and one corresponding envelope; and a sheet of promotional Sextette headed stationery and corresponding envelope (10)
• • On 17 December 2004 in NYC • •
• • Christie's held a "Rock & Roll and Entertainment Memorabilia" sale in New York City, Rockefeller Plaza on 17 December 2004.
• • Among the goodies was this: Lot Description: Mae West "Sextette" Clapper Board, 1976.
• • This was a wooden clapper board with painted white block lettering for the film "Sextette" (Briggs & Sullivan), a comedy co-written by Mae West and released in 1978. This was Mae's final film appearance at the age of 85. Price realized was $598.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: ”I'm here to make talkies. I hope the film can take the temperature."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Joseph Breen wrote: "Just so long as we have Mae West on our hands with the particular kind of story which she goes in for, we are going to have trouble. Difficulty is inherent in a Mae West picture." ...
• • Source: Office memo from Joseph Breen, head of the Hays Code Administration Office, 1930s
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2148th 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:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1932 • •
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