MAE WEST owned the part of "Diamond Lil" and toured with her Bowery melodrama, off and on, until November 1951.
• • The first (and last) revival without the Mae ingredient was staged in northern California, eight years after the icon's death with another Broadway mainstay, Gretchen Wyler [1932 — 2007], in the title role. Mae's script was adapted by Dennis Powers and Paul Blake and staged at The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.
• • The premiere was on Wednesday, 27 January 1988 and there were twenty-seven performances in all.
• • Actress Gretchen Wyler told the news media: "We haven't spoofed it. We haven't made it silly. And I dare say Mae might have liked it."
• • It seems the critics enjoyed it, too.
• • Dan Sullivan and Rebecca Crandall Reviewed the Revival • •
• • In March 1988 L.A. Times Times Theater Critic Dan Sullivan had explained to his readers: No one has tried to revive "Diamond Lil" in 100 years. Or at least since 1951, which was the last time Mae West did it. One reason is that Mae can't be imitated, although everybody tries. Another reason is that her script is pure cardboard. ...
• • Dan Sullivan wrote: Gretchen Wyler may not be Mae West, but she is still Gretchen Wyler, a lady who knows how to take stage. Rather than making Diamond Lil voluptuous, even kiddingly so, she makes her a cash-on-the-barrelhead dame who knows where all the bodies are buried, having disposed of half of them herself. ... [N.B.: Sullivan's comments are continued below.]
• • In her review for Synapse in March 1988, Rebecca Crandall was enthusiastic: Mae West's wisecracking sense of humor pervades the script, smoothly switching between the objective and subjective to enlighten her audience. In several asides to the audience, which Gretchen Wyler pulls off with skill, Diamond Lil drops delicious lines such as: "When women go wrong, men go right after them." These zingers add a spirited tone to West's view of women and the subtle sexual warfare taking place in the early 1920s. . . .
• • Rebecca Crandall continued: All the songs are performed with personality and pleasing choreography, integrating color and life into the show instead of dating or trivializing it. And after seeing Gretchen Wyler float across the stage in her voluptuous affairs, it is no surprise that her several songs in the second act match her former vivacious skill.
• • According to Rebecca Crandall: "Diamond Lil" presents melodrama at its best, and where it belongs, in a turn of the century burlesque comedy brimming with dance, song, slapstick, seduction, and plot tricks. Gretchen Wyler's interaction with the audience enchants in the true style of Mae West, who surprises us with her ability to create a crisp, sharp, and thoroughly entertaining script. For an evening of pure fun, go see Mae West's "Diamond Lil" and become seduced by a truly glamorous woman who was ahead of her time.
• • Source: Theatre Review: "Come up and see her sometime — — 'Diamond Lil' at The American Conservatory Theater, 450 Geary, Through March 19" written by Rebecca Crandall for UCLA's Synapse Magazine, Volume 32, Number 21; 10 March 1988.
• • Gerald Marks [1900 — 1997] • •
• • Mae West recorded a popular old standard in her album "The Fabulous Mae West" [for MCA Records, Inc., 100 Universal Plaza, Universal City, California] — — "All of Me" by composer Gerald Marks.
• • Born in Saginaw, Michigan in the month of October — — on 13 October 1900 — — Gerald Marks began writing songs as a boy. He was best known for the song "All of Me," which he co-wrote in 1931 with bandleader Seymour Simons, and which has been recorded more than 1,000 times (including four versions by Frank Sinatra). Al Jolson was the first to make it a hit. Marks also wrote the songs "That's What I Want for Christmas" for a Shirley Temple film, and "Is It True What They Say About Dixie?" recorded by Al Jolson and Rudy Vallee.
• • After a long, exciting career, Gerald Marks died on 27 January 1997. He was 96 years old.
• • Screenland's January 1934 cover • •
• • Directly under a striking color portrait of Mae West on the cover of the January 1934 issue of Screenland, the Smart Screen Magazine, the editors promised that you would find "Mae West's Personal Message to You!" on page 24.
• • On Monday, 27 January 1930 in The Brooklyn Eagle • •
• • The death of Matilda Delker West was reported in The Brooklyn Eagle on Monday, 27 January 1930. A heartbreaking loss for her daughter Mae, who was born and bred in Brooklyn, where her mother introduced her to the vaudeville circuit.
• • On Friday, 27 January 1933 in the USA • •
• • The red carpet premiere of "She Done Him Wrong" took place in Hollywood on Friday, 27 January 1933. What a great day for Mae West.
• • On Thursday, 27 January 1938 in The N.Y. Times • •
• • Frank S. Nugent, The Times man on the aisle, gave his review of "Every Day's a Holiday" on page 17 [N.Y. Times on 27 January 1938]. Nugent didn't care for the motion picture per se but seemed to appreciate the live music played by Benny Goodman and his orchestra that was part of the New York Paramount Theatre's stage show.
• • In contrast, Variety's headline was "Benny Goodman — West Boffo B'way for $57,000" [Variety on 2 February 1938]. Considering this tally was done during the Great Depression, ticket receipts totaling $57,000 at the box office in NYC would indicate that Mae West definitely attracted a full house in her hometown.
• • On Sunday, 27 January 1985 in The Sun Sentinel • •
• • Florida Staff Writer Shari Roan wrote: Fred Astaire, Mae West, and Wrigley Field have it. Warren Beatty, Kim Novak and the Superdome do not. Astaire, West and Wrigley Field have staying power, say writers Betty Cornfeld and Owen Edwards. They will never go out of style. They are quintessential. Quintessence: The Quality of Having It (Crown, $12.95) is the title of Cornfeld and Edwards` book about things forever trendy. ...
• • The Sun Sentinel published her feature in the weekend edition on Sunday, 27 January 1985.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Diamonds is my career."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article on the revival of "Diamond Lil" in San Francisco mentioned Mae West.
• • Ed Hastings of the American Conservatory Theatre (450 Geary) sat down with with a visitor from Los Angeles, L.A. Times Staff Writer Dan Sullivan.
• • Dan Sullivan wrote: This year Ed Hastings's giving 'em "Diamond Lil" with Broadway musical-comedy star Gretchen Wyler in the Mae West role. This is San Francisco, after all. ...
• • Dan Sullivan wrote: No one has tried to revive "Diamond Lil" in 100 years. Or at least since 1951, which was the last time Mae West did it. One reason is that Mae can't be imitated, although everybody tries. Another reason is that her script is pure cardboard. ...
• • Dan Sullivan wrote: Gretchen Wyler may not be Mae West, but she is still Gretchen Wyler, a lady who knows how to take stage. Rather than making Diamond Lil voluptuous, even kiddingly so, she makes her a cash-on-the-barrelhead dame who knows where all the bodies are buried, having disposed of half of them herself. You think of that great San Francisco madam, Sally Stanford. True, it's hard to believe Wyler when she tells us that she thought Donat was sending all those girls to Havana to become reading teachers. But we wouldn't have believed Mae either. Wyler looks terrific and uncorks Mae's great old wisecracks as if she wrote 'em herself. That's about all you can expect from "Diamond Lil." We are not talking heavy drama here. . . .
• • Source: Article: "STAGE: ACT Is Back on Course as S.F.'s Leading Theater" written by Dan Sullivan for The L.A. Times; published on 6 March 1988
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2190th 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: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in April 1928 • •
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