Friday, January 06, 2012

Mae West: Stark, Si, Chicago

He was a drama critic who had written about MAE WEST several times. When she was Diamond Lil on Broadway, Stark Young described her "as remote and purely theatrical as Sarah Bernhardt in 'La Tosca'."
• • Born in Mississippi, Stark Young [11 October 1881 — 6 January 1963] was an American teacher, playwright, novelist, painter, literary critic, and essayist.
• • In her book "Mae West: An Icon in Black and White" [2001], author Jill Watts discusses Stark Young's reaction to Mae West onstage.
• • According to Jill Watts, critic Stark Young viewed the character Diamond Lil and the actress Mae West as a riddle. Jill Watts wrote: Here is a stage figure who is not one of those players, however admirable, with whom we can feel at home, knowing that they are the same sort of human beings as we are, save for a desire to imitate or to exhibit themselves, or both. You watch Miss West without this easy understanding and also without falling asleep. Whatever ideas or conceptions she may or may not have, she is alive on the stage as no one is in life, she shines, she astonishes — — shocks, if you like — — engages and puzzles you.
• • Jill Watts includes another remark about Mae West's portrayal of Diamond Lil by Stark Young: "You may watch her performance and take it any way you like," Stark Young wrote. "The theatre, you perceive is a place for your pleasure."
• • Stark Young compared the gritty realism of "Sex" [in 1926 — 1927] with the more nostalgic theatricality of the Suicide Hall setting of "Diamond Lil" [1928]. Young writes: "Diamond Lil" is as daring in the end [as "Sex"], the same sexy morsels, embraces, and interventions of the law with rank suspenses, frank speeches, underworld, and so on. But it is more covered, continuous, and studied than the other production, and the crowd of characters, the costuming and vaudevillistic intervals, pull the whole of this later play into a more familiar style, less crudely, and sheerly singular than "Sex" appeared to be. ...
• • Source: Article: "Diamond Lil" written by Stark Young, drama critic [New Republic, 27 June 1928]
• • In 1959, a stroke derailed his life and livelihood. Stark Young died in the month of January — — on 6 January 1963. He was 81 years old.
• • Si Jenks [1876 — 1970] • •
• • Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on 23 September 1876, Si Jenks played a Country Bumpkin in "Go West Young Man" [1936].
• • The former vaudevillian was usually cast in motion pictures as a bewhiskered curmudeon type. Seen in hundreds of westerns, the bit part player usually added a few chuckles to the scene as a toothless old codger.
• • Si Jenks developed heart diseasse and died in Woodland Hills, California in the month of January — — on 6 January 1970. Jenks was 93 years old.
• • Mickey Hargitay, "Mae West Revue" • •
• • Bodybuilder Miklós Hargitay was born in Budapest, Hungary in the month of January — — on 6 January 1926. He was selected for the first group of gentlemen who appeared onstage in the successful "Mae West Revue." On 27 June 1954, Mae West launched her innovative show at the Sahara Hotel in Vegas (built in 1952). Hargitay was 28 years old when they opened.
• • Mickey Hargitay died in Los Angeles of multiple myeloma on 14 September 2006.
• • Mae West in Lyrics • •
• • Mae West is referenced in the lyrics of "Let's Face It" by Cole Porter:
• • • • "Farming, that's the fashion,/
• • • • Farming, that's the passion/
• • • • Of our great celebrities of today./
• • • • Kit Cornell is shellin' peas,/
• • • • Lady Mendl's climbin' trees,/
• • • • Dear Mae West is at her best in the hay." ...
• • Starring Danny Kaye, the playful musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter had a successful production on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre from 29 October 1941— 20 March 1943. It traveled to London in 1942 and also was recreated for the cinema in 1943.
• • On Saturday, 6 January 2001 on TCM • •
• • The screen classics starring Mae West "I'm No Angel" and "She Done Him Wrong" became the movie package acquired by Turner Classic Movies. "I'm No Angel" made its premiere on that station on Saturday, 6 January 2001.
• • On Thursday, 6 January 2011 at the U. of Chicago • •
• • The University of Chicago held a Mae West film fest beginning on Thursday, 6 January 2011 at 7:00pm. The first screening featured "Night After Night" [directed by Archie Mayo, 1932, 73 minutes].
• • Their program noted: From her first (sic) line,“Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie,” Mae West steals the show from George Raft, Roscoe Karns, and Constance Cummings, who are supposed to be the stars of the film. Making her Hollywood debut after an extremely successful Broadway career, West threatened to walk away from the film unless she was allowed to write her own lines. The studio let her have her way, and as a result the film that was supposed to be about a saloon owner trying to enter civil society is best remembered as West’s curvaceous burst onto the screen.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie!" [This was not her first spoken line in "Night after Night."]
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article on Clifton Boulevard and Ohio mentioned mobsters and Mae West.
• • Cris Glaser wrote: The piece, "Clifton Blvd." by local artist Rick Meyer, depicts the busy west-side thoroughfare, from West 117th Street east to points leading to downtown (Cleveland). It features several shops, bars, a café, a bank and a gas station. There's also a single stone planter on the corner, where it's now a makeshift memorial.
• • Cris Glaser explained: The portrait prominently displays Katsaros' bar, Twist, complete with the wrought-iron patio furniture found outside the club during the summer. For armchair historians, the painting also stirs up stories of a ring of Irish- and German-born thugs in the 1940s, when they met for clandestine, after-hours poker games in the club's basement. Astonishingly, the police looked the other way, which impressed the violent La Cosa Nostra of Italian-American heavies on the city's east side.
• • Mae West and her love affairs with unsavory Italian paramours . . . • •
• • Cris Glaser continued: The gambling sessions weren't news to Mae West. Known for her string of love affairs with unsavory Italian paramours, the tee-totaling sex siren stopped in town in the summer of 1950 to see her "Mafia men" in the midst of a cross-country tour of her controversial stage show, "Diamond Lil." When she wasn't performing, Mae West strolled the city's streets, including Clifton Boulevard. Nightclub impresario Gloria Lenihan acted as her tour guide. And the country's leading newsmen tagged right along. "(West) is a razzle, dazzle priestess of sexy, barroom humor, whose sayings have become part of the nation's folklore," a New York reporter wrote. ...
• • Source: Article: "Portrait of the Past" written by Cris Glaser for Yahoo News Network; posted on 27 June 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2168th 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 Chicago in 1955 • •
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