Sunday, January 08, 2012

Mae West: Perpetuation of Piffle

Recently, The New York Daily News printed this bit of foolishness about MAE WEST:
• • Lisa L. Colangelo writes: "And iconic burlesque performer Mae West honed her act at several Woodhaven watering holes, including Neirs Tavern, which dates back to 1829. ..."
• • Source: Article: "Leonora Lavan steps down as head of Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society — — Spearheaded preservation efforts for nearly 20 years" written by Lisa L. Colangelo, Staff Writer, New York Daily News; published on Thursday, 5 January 2012; email your comments to: lcolangelo (at) nydailynews (dot) com or via postal mail to The N.Y. Daily News, 4 New York Plaza, New York, NY 10004; Tel.: (212) 210-2100.
• • And when is the last time you heard Mae West referred to an "iconic burlesque performer," a title more suited to exotic dancer Dita Von Teese than a marquee name who earned millions for Paramount Pictures?
• • Photo: Mae West on Broadway in 1918, years before the West family moved from bustling theatre-loving Brooklyn to a single-family home in leafy, sleepy, suburban Woodhaven
• • Well-known before Woodhaven • •
• • A veteran of the stage and screen, actress and writer Mae West was born on 17 August 1893 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York. She spent her childhood in this borough, where her parents helped launch her vaudeville career by entering the act "Baby May, Song and Dance" into many amateur competitions in Bushwick, Brownsville, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint.
• • By the time she moved to Woodhaven with her parents, her sister, and her brother, Mae was within kissing distance of her thirtieth [30th] birthday
and beginning to write the plays she planned to bring to Broadway.
• • Illustration: Mae was giving autographs to her fans back in June 1910 when she was a teenage actress touring in stock in Tioga, Pennsylvania.
• • And by the time Mae West was registering the copyright on her manuscripts with the Library of Congress from the family's Woodhaven address, the seasoned entertainer had already been booked for eleven week-long engagements at Hammerstein's Victoria [1912 — 1913]; she had already starred at The Palace [1922] on The Gay White Way; she had already been cast in several Broadway musicals and revues; she had already toured in variety from coast to coast; and she had already married two husbands, Frank Wallace [1911] and Guido Deiro [1914]. She had also been a witness at her younger sister's wedding, which took place on 29 January 1917 in Brooklyn City Hall, not far from the West family's Brooklyn residence.
• • A proud Brooklynite, Mae West did not move to Queens (a.k.a. Long Island) until 20 years after her career was well in progress.
• • Never at Neir's • •
• • Furthermore, Mae West never set foot in Neir’s Tavern [87-48 78th Street, Woodhaven, NY] — — an all-male bastion in those days (i.e., the Prohibition Era and earlier) — — though she often did dine at The Triangle Inn, a family restaurant with a ladies' entrance where traditional German dishes were served and, yes, at other neighborhood restaurants.
• • You can learn a great deal about her life by doing your own primary research or by spending time with excellent Mae West biographies written by Jill Watts (Mae West: An Icon in Black and White) and Emily Wortis Leider (Becoming Mae West).
• • Come back, fact-checkers! • •
• • No one at The New York Daily News has read those two books, obviously, nor does this venerable news outlet seem to employ a fact-checker. That's too bad — — but why should you have to suffer because a news outlet prints misinformation that it does not bother to verify?
• • People tend to believe what they read (especially in a well established NYC daily), therefore, the Mae West Blog attempts to correct misinformation, "bar lore," and the perpetuation of pure piffle.
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2171st 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 • • on Broadway in 1918 • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.

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