Monday, January 23, 2012

Mae West: Reg Lewis

MAE WEST hired several marvelous looking musclemen for her "Mae West Revue" and, if she was looking for a Mr. America type, she found it. On 27 June 1954, Mae West launched her innovative show at the Sahara Hotel in Vegas (built in 1952). The first bodybuilders in the cast included: Richard DuBois, Mickey Hargitay, Zabo Koszewski, Charles Krauser [aka Paul Novak], Gordon Mitchell, Dan Vadis — — and Reg Lewis.
• • In 1957, this innovative sold-out stage show, which had toured from coast-to-coast, would close in Las Vegas — — again at the Sahara.
• • A handsome hunk who was born in Fremont, California was dark and curly-haired Reg Lewis, whose birthdate is 23 January 1936 and who is celebrating a birthday today. Body conscious from his youth, by 17 he had won the title of Junior Mr. Olympics (1953) and that launched him on a winning streak: Mr. Olympics (1956), Mr. Universe (1957), Mr. America (1963), and Mr. America Over Forty (1983).
• • After the "Mae West Revue" ended, and he hung up his lioncloth for the last time, he tried to break into the sword and sandal genre. Reg Lewis did appear as the titular hero in the Italian movie "Maciste contro i mostri" / "Fire Monsters against the Son of Hercules" [1962]. As the muscle-bound Maxus, he battled a legion of fire-breathing minions to save the residents of a remote valley. This led to no further advancement, however, of his silver screen ambitions.
• • He was hired to show off his physique in a few motion pictures including "Don't Make Waves" [1967] with Tony Curtis and "Sextette" starring Mae West. Additionally, he occasionally escorted the movie queen to Hollywood parties and press events.
• • To Reg Lewis, may you continue to blow out candles for many more years. Happy 76th Birthday!
• • On Sunday, 23 January 1927 in the New York Herald Tribune • •
• • The New York Herald Tribune sent a journalist to cover "Sex" and this newspaper printed perhaps the longest diatribe against Mae's play in their weekend edition on Sunday, 23 January 1927.
• • The Herald Tribune drama desk reviewer wrote: "It may be said of [Mae West] and "Sex" that they do not make sin attractive. The hell they picture is uninviting, a horrible place whose principal lady-viper has a tough hiss, an awkward strut and an overplump figure. ..."
• • The newspaper had published another harsh review months before on 27 April 1926 but, for some reason, sent a reporter to take a second look. Since when is it fair to mock an actress because she's carrying a few extra pounds, eh? A stunning example of what critics scratch out when lost for words or unable to make valid points about a play.
• • On Wednesday, 23 January 1929 in Variety • •
• • "Diamond Lil" had its Chicago premiere on 20 January 1929 at the Apollo Theatre. But a few days later, Mae West was troubled by terrible stomach pains that forced showtime delays or unusually long intermissions. Variety reported on Mae's suffering and its effect on her engagement in The Windy City in their issue dated on Wednesday, 23 January 1929.
• • Recorded on Monday, 23 January 1950 by NBC • •
• • This radio program was recorded on Monday, 23 January 1950 for a national broadcast on NBC on 16 February 1950. The network wanted to make sure that any unforeseen blips or sultry innuendo could be erased by their audio engineers.
• • "The Chesterfield Supper Club," sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes, was pre-taped on January 23rd. Mae sang a duet with Perry Como and she told her version of "Little Red Riding Hood." The 28-minute show starred the host Perry Como, Mitchell Ayres and His Orchestra, and guest-starred Mae West and The Fontane Sisters. Martin Block was the announcer. This is a funny episode and a good audio is available.
• • On Sunday, 23 January 2011 • •
• • On Sunday 23 January 2011 BookReporter posted a review by Bronwyn Miller. The title Miller critiqued was "She Always Knew How: Mae WestA Personal Biography" by Charlotte Chandler [NY: Simon & Schuster, 2009].
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West wrote this in "Babe Gordon," a novel renamed "The Constant Sinner" after a contest. Macauley printed the first run in November 1930 and took out a half-page ad (featuring Mae's picture) in The New York Times Book Review section; the newly titled edition was released in 1931.
• • Mae West wrote: "Babe Gordon leaned against the crumbling red brick wall of the Marathon Athletic Club in Harlem, at 135th Street off Fifth Avenue, and pulled at a cigarette."
• • Mae West wrote: "Babe was eighteen and a prizefighter’s tart, picking up her living on their hard earned winnings. Her acquaintances numbered trollops, murderers, bootleggers and gambling-den keepers."
• • [After a detective warns Babe she is in a tight spot, she answers back:] "I can always handle tight spots."
• • [Passing a group of guys in Harlem, Babe murmurs this teasing remark:] "Come up sometime, boys! I'll tell your fortune." [In the 1932 screenplay for Paramount, Mae West's character will say exactly the same thing to Captain Cummings, played by Cary Grant.]
• • During July 1931 Mae began a discussion with the Shuberts about a stage version of "The Constant Sinner," based on her bi-racial novel set in Harlem published in hardcover and being snapped up.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A section in a memoir mentioned Mae West.
• • According to Stanley Walker, Mae West once became irritated at the gossip about her and wrote this letter to The New York Times in 1931:
• • "Because my book 'The Constant Sinner' [1931] is but another in a string of hits I have turned out — — my batting average being 1,000 In this respect — — and because my plays have dealt with sex and the dregs of humanity, some persons see fit to assume that I write vividly about such subjects because I know them by experience. . . . Nobody ever saw me In the dives I am supposed to know so intimately. . . . The reason is I never was in one. Nobody ever sees me in night clubs or cabarets anywhere. Even if I cared for night life, which I don't, I wouldn't have time to indulge myself In It. People who know their Broadway will bear me out that there is no star on the stage today who is less of an exhibitionist, or who shows herself less in public places than myself. I am, in fact, retiring by nature, in my private life to the point of shyness. I even do all my shopping by telephone, because I cannot stand the attention other shoppers give me in a store. I am not upstage or conceited, or anything like that, as anyone who knows me will agree, but it is averse to my nature to feel myself being pointed out in public as a celebrity. . . . I do not drink. I do not smoke, I have my books, my writings, my friends that is my private life." ...
• • Source: "Mrs. Astor's Horse" written by Stanley Walker [NY: Frederick A. Stokes, 1935, 320 pages
• • Much of this is pure bunk, of course, but Mae was always carefully designing her white lies, varnishing her public image, and fortifying her own myths.
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2186th 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 • her 1931 book • •
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