Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mae West: Eva Tanguay

Guido Deiro is not alone in the honor column, however; six other acts share it with him including MAE WEST, the "Eva Tanguay" of Vaudeville, wrote the critic from San Antonio Light in the edition dated for 8 September 1914. When the newspaper printed the review, Mae would have been 21 years old. Eva Tanguay, the flamboyant vaudeville fixture, was already 36.
• • During the height of Eva Tanguay’s astonishing performance trajectory (from 1900 until the mid-1920s), she courted the press with ingenious publicity stunts that kept her name circulating in the columns like fresh oxygen. A huge headliner in her day, she was highly paid, singular, idiosyncratic, a spendthrift, and certainly a role model for any aspiring female rebel such as Mae West or Sophie Tucker.
• • Eva Tanguay [1 August 1878 — 11 January 1947] was a Canadian-born singer and entertainer who billed herself as "the girl who made vaudeville famous." Fifteen years older than Mae, thus well-established in variety, Eva Tanguay knew that her name on a stagebill guaranteed a big box office. Naturally, the critics who covered variety artists liked to make comparisons. In the summer of 1913, for instance, the New York Tribune wrote that Mae West made "herself popular by singing a repertory of 'I Don't Care' songs and appearing in a dazzling series of low and behold gowns" [N.Y. Tribune on 5 August 1913].
• • When a rival lured Eva Tanguay away from the prestigious Keith Circuit, Frank Bohm pounced. Seeing his chance to anoint Mae as the next superstar, Bohm billed her as "the Eva Tanguay of Vaudeville." Clearly, Mae West copied when it suited her, even while proclaiming she had "a style all her own."
• • It seem that Mae's mother was an Eva Tanguay fan, and kept in touch with her for awhile. [Tillie died in January 1930.] During the embarrassing unveiling of Mae's 1911 marriage to Frank Wallace in the 1930s, at first Mae denied the whole thing. By then retired and living in California, Eva Tanguay helped Mae's cause by giving interviews saying the Paramount star was simply way too young to have walked down the aisle in April 1911, therefore, it must have been a different Mae West who wed Frank Wallace.
• • Eva Tanguay would be a colorful celebrity for any biographer. Perhaps one day a book will be written.
• • Alexander Hall [1894 — 1968] • •
• • Alexander Hall directed "Goin' to Town" [1935], starring Mae West. We are thinking of Hall on his January birthday.
• • Alexander Hall was born in Boston on 11 January 1894. He died from complications after a stroke in San Francisco on 30 July 1968.
• • Jack LaRue [1902 — 1984] • •
• • How many knew that the Bronx native Gaspere Biondolillo took the stage-name of "Jack LaRue"? Jack LaRue [birthdate: 3 May 1902] was part of the original Broadway cast when Mae brought her hit "Diamond Lil" to the Royale Theatre in April 1928. Onstage the handsome, sultry Jack LaRue played Lil's Latin lover Juarez. [Gilbert Roland played that role, under a Russian moniker, in the film version: "She Done Him Wrong" in 1932.]
• • A lifelong friend of Mae's, Jack LaRue died in Santa Monica, California of a heart attack in the month of January — — on 11 January 1984. He was 82 years old.
• • On Saturday, 11 January 1919 in Judge Magazine • •
• • The iconic publication Judge featured three hot topics in their weekend issue dated 11 January 1919 — — vaudevillian Mae West, the illustrator John Held Jr, and the Armistice. The cover announced "War ends!" Judge's editorial office at that time was 225 Fifth Avenue, NYC.
• • On Thursday, 11 January 1996 in The Washington Post • •
• • Under review was a new release: "When I'm Bad, I'm Better: Mae West, Sex, and American Entertainment" — — a biographical book written by Marybeth Hamilton [NY: HarperCollins. 307 pp]
• • Reviewing this book, Gerald Weales begins his summation this way: Marybeth Hamilton's "When I'm Bad, I'm Better" promises "to unmask Mae West by tracing the history of her public persona" through changing attitudes toward sex and class. That may be one of the few ways of doing a Mae West book these days. The actress's private life is so obscured by a fog of her own making that a celebrity scandal biography, except as a congeries of rumor and invention, is out of the question, and even an admirer of her performance in "She Done Him Wrong" is unlikely to feel the need for an in-depth study of the West oeuvre. ...
• • His critique was published in The Washington Post on Thursday, 11 January 1996.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: “When women go wrong, men go right after them.”
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • It was on 11 January 2000 when there was the presentation of the new wig in the Mae West Room in Spain.
• • Dali's web site in Spain wrote: Llongueras and the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation have remodelled one of the most unusual items in the Dalí Theatre-Museum, the wig which forms part of the installation made by Salvador Dalí and Òscar Tusquets in 1974: the Mae West Room.
• • Dali's web site in Spain explained: To halt the deterioration the original wig had undergone, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation sought assistance from Luís Llongueras. The hairdresser-cum-sculptor, with his technical team and the collaboration of the Conservation Department of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, have been working over the last few months to make a new, large-scale wig for the Mae West Room.
• • Dali's web site in Spain offered these fascinating details: Luís Llongueras was in fact the creator of the original wig for the Mae West Room, installed in 1976 as part of the permanent sculptural montage made two years earlier by Salvador Dalí and the architect Òscar Tusquets, shortly before the inauguration of the Dalí Theatre-Museum. The wig, of large dimensions (4.40 x 3.46 metres), was entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest made to date. Luís Llongueras later went to the Dalí Theatre-Museum on several occasions in order to see to the maintenance of the enormous wig. The deterioration of such a fragile item was nevertheless inevitable over the course of 25 years, and made it advisable that it be replaced by a totally new wig. This new wig has the same characteristics that always made the original one of the key features of the Mae West Room, especially when viewing the installation through the reduction lens that converts the sculptural montage into Mae West's face. ...
• • Source: Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2174th 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 • • in 1914 • •
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