Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mae West: Shadoplay

MAE WEST was Shadoplay's cover girl for their February 1934 issue. Inside the publication Roger Bayer had an interesting story to tell — — "Five Stars Hollywood Can't Lick," all about Mae West, Katharine Hepburn, Will Rogers, Paul Muni, and Charles Laughton.
• • On Saturday, 29 February 1936 • •
• • "Goin' to Town" was released as "Now I'm a Lady" in certain countries. The Mirror in Perth, Australia, ran an article on page 18 in their issue dated Saturday, 29 February 1936: "'Now I'm a Lady' — Mae West as Society Lady."
• • The Mirror wrote: Mae West's adventures in "Now I'm a Lady" open in a western mining town, range over the Western hemisphere and reach their climax in the strongholds of society at Southampton. . . .
• • The Mirror wrote: How this go-getting lady beats society at its game, and gets out of the romantic tangle and into Paul Cavanagh 's arms furnishes a grand climax to the picture. Miss West's performance is highlighted by her singing of a number of new songs, including the persuasive "He's a Bad Man." But the grand climax is her singing of the operatic aria from "Samson and Delilah," which pleases society and sends the audience into an ecstacy. The "tall, dark and handsomes" who support Miss West in "Now I'm a Lady," are well chosen and more than usually effective. They include . . . .
• • On Saturday, 29 February 1936 in Hollywood • •
• • Taking advantage of one extra day in February to complain about Mae West and censor the script for "Klondike Annie," Will Hays sent a letter to Joseph Breen, dated on Saturday, 29 February 1936. Sounds like he was working overtime.
• • On Saturday, 29 February 1936 in San Mateo • •
• • On Saturday, 29 February 1936, Mae West was on page 2 in the San Mateo Times. "Mae West's Latest Motion Picture" was the headline, indicating the various upcoming features being shown on the following Tuesday at the local moviehouses in San Mateo, California. Black and white photos from "Klondike Annie" were featured in a spread on page 2.
• • On Saturday, 29 February 1936 in Los Angeles • •
• • "Stop Lewd Films" was the headline of an article referring to Mae West in the Los Angeles Examiner, issue dated 29 February 1936.
• • On Thursday, 29 February 1940 • •
• • On Thursday, 29 February 1940 Hattie McDaniel — — who worked with Mae West in "I'm No Angel" [1933] — — became the first black actor to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in "Gone with the Wind" [1939].
• • On 29 February 1964 • •
• • Subscribers who opened their TV Guide (issue dated February 29 — March 6, 1964) noted an article about Mae West's guest starring role on "Mister Ed," a sitcom about a talking horse. The feature "Mr. Ed Barges into a Boudoir" was printed on pages 20, 21.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "A girl’s greatest danger lies in actually falling in love with the wrong person, or, if she’s unwilling to make the sacrifice love demands, in falling in love at all."
• • Mae West said: "Suggestion is always more intriguing than reality. You must be stimulating to a man’s imagination."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about the play "Sex" mentioned Mae West.
• • D.J. R. Bruckner wrote: If it helps a writer to know a lot about her subject, Mae West brought great authority to her first play, ''Sex,'' written and first produced in New York in 1926. The writing is not as accomplished as it is in some of her later film scripts, but there are enough characteristic West lines to let you know who the author was, and it was good enough to get her tossed into jail in 1927 as the creator and star of an indecent public performance. As a publicity stunt the trial was perfect; from then on she was a star whatever she did.
• • D.J. R. Bruckner wrote: Oddly, the text of the play was lost for 70 years. So the show was never revived in the city. But now the Hourglass Group has resurrected it in a production at the Gershwin Hotel — — a setting that has the 20's written all over it — — under the direction of Elyse Singer. It is smart, funny and even a little irreverent to West's creaky plot and often corny dialogue. . . .
• • Source: Review: "Mae West's First Play (for the Stage, That Is)" written by D.J. R. Bruckner for The N.Y. Times; published on 24 December 1999
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2224th 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 • Shadoplay, 1934 • •
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mae West: Eternal Character

In her review of "Klondike Annie," Elizabeth Yeaman commented, "She is the same MAE WEST of all previous pictures." Yeaman's article "Big Crowds View Star's New Picture" was published in the Hollywood Citizen News on Friday, 28 February 1936.
• • Mae West — — Eternal Character • •
• • Interestingly, halfway across the world in Australia, the same opinion was being expressed at the end of February in 1936. One newspaper in Perth, announcing that "Goin' to Town" was about to debut there, wrote this: Paramount's "Now I'm a Lady," which comes to the Grand Theatre next Friday, brings Mae West back to the screen to win new laurels as a modern belle with ultra modern ideas. The costumes worn by Miss West in this motion picture are dashing and new, the situations are as up-to-date as tomorrow's newspapers, the backgrounds might even be termed ultra-modern, but Mae West is still the same — — grand Mae West. Shrewd, ingenious, robust, and full of sly humor and observation, she proves again that she is not necessarily a girl of the "Naughty Nighties" but an eternal character.
• • All these rosy reviews may have disguised the thorns that nettled the movie star. Will Hays was still sending scorching letters to Joseph Breen about "Klondike Annie."
• • Worse yet, scrappy opportunist Frank Wallace had realized his former wife was a goldmine and got out his pickaxe. On Friday, 28 February 1936, Mae West told a reporter: "The guy's trying to cash in again! I got a new picture out and he's pulling the same stunt he pulled the last time one was released."
• • February 1934 in the Hollywood Reporter • •
• • The Hollywood Reporter ran an article: "Mae West Captures Paris Fans."
• • They wrote: Mae West has taken Paris like the revolutionists took the Bastille. "I'm No Angel" is packing them in at Gaumont-Elysee, with long lines being turned away daily.
• • The Hollywood Reporter also ran this article in February 1934: "Mae West Not So Hot In Icy Stockholm."
• • A Stockholm reviewer wrote: The Swedes can't get the slant of America and England on Mae West in "She Done Him Wrong." Censorship board had to view picture twice before making up its mind. Now, while picture is doing well, critics and patrons don't care so much either for the subject matter of the film, or for the wiggles of Mae.
• • The Hollywood Reporter ran this interesting item, too: "Prinz Quits Paramount With Indie Pic Plans." Mae West was going to be a puppet. The article explained: Leroy Prinz, who has been at Paramount for the past year directing musical numbers, has handed in his resignation and plans to go into independent production. Prinz plans on making a series of shorts with puppets. The puppets are to be patterned after screen characters. He has already finished the first short, with the Mae West character featured.
• • On Friday, 28 February 2003 • •
• • In London, England Dr. James Pitt-Payne (in association with Doug Grierson) did a sequence and karaoke of "Good Night Nurse" by Mae West from 1912. Music by W. Raymond Walker; lyrics by Thomas J. Gray; copyright MCMXII by Jerome H. Remick and Co., N.Y. and Boston. You can download the midi of "Good Night Nurse" from his web site. The men completed this project on Friday, 28 February 2003 at 00.21.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Sometimes a little lie will save a lot of trouble."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about the Oscars mentioned Mae West.
• • Ireland's Daily Edge wrote: As Hollywood prepares for the biggest night on its calendar, looks back over some of the bigger controversies to have struck the Academy Awards show through the years, from a racy rendition of "Baby It’s Cold Outside" in the late 1950s to Marlon Brando’s award refusal in 1973. . . . Rock Hudson and Mae West caused a stir with their ‘kingsize’ rendition of "Baby It’s Cold Outside" at the 1957 awards show . . .
• • Source: Article: "Video: 5 of the biggest Oscar night controversies" printed in The Daily Edge, Dublin, Ireland; published on Sunday, 26 February 2012
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2223nd 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 • 1936 • •
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Mae West: Robert Usher

He was responsible for the look, the lovingly detailed sets and interiors of two motion pictures starring MAE WEST.
• • "She Done Him Wrong" [produced during 1932] was the first motion picture assigned to Robert Usher who handled the Art Direction capably for Paramount Pictures. He was the Art Director for "Goin' to Town" [1935] as well.
• • It is the Art Director's job is to study each scene's storyboard and take each scene visually to another level. With his keen eye for atmosphere, Usher's design positioned objects in the background and along the edges of the scene that are not noticed perhaps upon first viewing, though they leave an impression and influence the emotional impact of a scene.
• • Born in Missouri on Wednesday, 27 February 1901, Robert Beneke Usher's silver screen career began with a solid-gold hit for Mae West in 1932, an auspicious launch indeed. Altogether he worked as Art Director for 47 motion pictures between 1932 — 1950 and was nominated for three Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction. His final screen credit was "Vendetta" [1950].
• • Robert Usher died in Tehama County, California on Monday, 23 July 1990. He was 89.
• • Happy Birthday, Mark! • •
• • Happy Birthday to Mae-maven and Canadian researcher R. Mark Desjardins. He was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on Tuesday, 27 February 1951. Readers have noticed the fascinating excerpts we have posted from time to time, with his kind permission, from his manuscript "In Search of Mae West," a carefully detailed magnum opus that will be released as soon as it's completed.
• • Mark covered the last Mae West Birthday Bash held at the home of Ramfis Diaz in Los Angeles on 17 August 2010. Here he is, handsomely posed in Hollywood surrounded by carefully preserved Mae memorabilia.
• • Enjoy your special day, Mark!
• • J. Merrill Holmes [21 July 1889 — 27 February 1950] • •
• • Every Bowery queen must have her consort — — and Mae West's costar was J. Merrill Holmes who portrayed Gus Jordan, the saloon keeper and ward heeler who keeps Lil in diamonds for the 1928 Broadway production of "Diamond Lil" at the Royale Theatre.
• • Born in Pennsylvania on 21 July 1889, John Merrill Holmes was featured in a few mainstage productions during the 1920s, most especially the well-regarded "What Price Glory" [1924 — 1925]; he took the role of Lieutenant Cunningham.
• • From 1930 — 1948, he was a character actor who appeared in more than two dozen motion pictures in Hollywood under the name Jack Holmes or Jack Merrill Holmes, usually in authority roles.
• • During the month of February he died — — on 27 February 1950 — — in his adopted city of Los Angeles, California. He was 60.
• • On Saturday, 27 February 1932 • •
• • The headline on Saturday, 27 February 1932: "Puppets to Act in Shows Today."
• • The Cornell Daily Sun announced the Mae West marionette show on the front page: Tatterman Marionettes will present plays in Willard Straight Theater. "Stringing Broadway" is adult entertainment. The puppets . . . poke good-humored fun at the contemporary world of politics, the theatre, and letters. A burlesque grand opera . . . A.A. Milne, Mae West, and Eugene O'Neill are on the program. . . .
• • "Stringing Broadway," with its chorus of "Glorified Girls," takes the professional revue for a ride, noted the Cornell Daily Sun.
• • Source: Cornell Daily Sun, page 1 story, Volume 52, Issue 106, published on Saturday, 27 February 1932.
• • On Thursday, 27 February 1936 • •
• • Joseph Breen wrote to Will Hays about Mae West and "KIondike Annie." His letter is dated for Thursday, 27 February 1936.
• • Newspapers were aware of the bickering and the chaos. The Los Angeles Herald printed a news story on page 4 about the censorship issues on 27 February 1936. It was never easy being Mae West.
• • On Sunday, 27 February 1938 • •
• • From Perth Australia, the newspapers echoed the after-shocks of "The Chase & Sanborn Hour" in December 1937: Mae West's un-Scriptural portrayal of Eve in a national broadcast has aroused the wrath of hundreds of American women and infuriated the clergy. They are shocked because, instead of the serpent tempting Eve, as the Book of Genesis records, Mae West tempted the serpent. The company that broadcast Mae as Eve has been besieged by angry resolutions from women's clubs.
• • "Applesauce! Horrible Blasphemy!" says Rev. Walsh • •
• • Rev. Maurice Walsh, of Battle Creek, Michigan, described Mae's Eve as "a travesty of Holy Scriptures." Walsh strongly objects to her referring to Eden's "Forbidden Fruit" as applesauce, the tempting item which women had fed men through the ages. ...
• • America's big Catholic League of Decency is also planning to reprimand her. . . .
• • Source: From Our Own Correspondent by Air in New York, Sunday Times (Perth, Australia) published on Sunday, 27 February 1938.
• • On Tuesday, 27 February 1979 • •
• • A piece of Mae memorabilia being sold is this $125 check Mae West signed on Tuesday, 27 February 1979. Made payable to her live-in lover Charles Krauser for "service" and drawn on West's account at the Hollywood office of the United California Bank in Hollywood, California, check number 11283 was written one year before the icon died.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Don't diet! Curves may be dangerous on the highways, but they never hurt a woman."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about generosity gave insight into the character of Mae West.
• • The Mail (in Adelaide, Australia) wrote: Mae West discovered a little eating place out towards San Fernando Valley. She found it much to her liking, and went there often. Now it comes out that recently the woman who operates the place was told to vacate, because of non-payment of a mortgage. Mae West found it out, paid off what was left, and handed the deeds to the woman.
• • "Why shouldn't I?" replied Mae. "I wanted to keep on eating there, didn't I?"
• • Source: Article: "Mae West's Generosity" printed in The Mail on page 2; published in Australia on Saturday, 24 July 1937
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2222nd 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 • filming in Hollywood in 1932 • •
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mae West: No Fanfare

Was MAE WEST like the characters she portrayed?
• • A leisurely article (317 words) published Down Under on Saturday, 26 February 1938 discussed in great detail all the ways the real woman was nothing like the fictional females she played.
• • The Mirror (in Perth, Australia) wrote: Mae West's characterisation of a motion picture star in "Go West Young Man," the hilarious comedy, which will be screening at the Grand Theatre, Friday next, March 4, strangely enough, is entirely unlike her own life as an outstanding film luminary.
• • The Mirror gave several examples. Here's one: "Go West Young Man" portrays a film star's touring paraphernalia as extremely elaborate, but the real Mae West journeyed to Corona, California for her first ''location" scenes of the picture, in simple fashion. Accompanied only by her driver and personal maid, Miss West's arrival was inconspicuous, and her departure the same — — a decided contrast to the film role (Mavis Arden) she portrays.
• • Here's another example the Mirror printed: In the film, the curvaceous star is driven about in a $25,000 dollar imported sedan — — the most elaborate equipage that could be found on the Pacific Coast. It belongs, incidentally, to another film personage [Constance Bennett]. Actually, however, the off-screen Mae West has stock model automobiles distinctly minus elaborate trappings. ... The throngs of fans surrounding the Triangle A ranch near Corona did not, in fact, recognise Mae West's car until some time after the star had arrived. Further, her characterisation requires that Mavis Arden appears as an extremely self-centered person, while her co-workers in the studio are unanimous in declaring that Miss West in real life is one of the most "regular" people in the film industry.
• • Here's a final example from the Mirror: While on location, Miss West stopped at the famous Norconian Club, a mecca for Eastern tourists. Contrary to the fictionised activities of stars, Miss West's stay at the hotel was marked primarily by lack of display. She mingled freely with the guests — — many of whom were unaware that Hollywood's leading name was among them. ...
• • Source: Article: "Go West Young Man" Mae West Stars in Coming Paramount Attraction printed in the Mirror (Perth, Australia) on page 24, on Saturday, 26 February 1938.
• • G. P. Huntley [26 February 1904 — 26 June 1971] • •
• • Mae West worked with several Broadway veterans in her motion picture "Go West Young Man" [1936], the cinema version of a blockbuster hit onstage.
• • Stage star G. P. Huntley was briefly seen as Philip in the "Drifting Lady" sequence. Born in Boston on 26 February 1904, Bruce Timothy Huntley was the son of two stage players G. P. Huntley (1868 — 1927) and Eva Kelly (1880 — 1948). During his long tenure on The Great White Way, the versatile performer was seen in musicals, Shakespearean tragedies, weepy melodramas, and romantic comedies such as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" [1926].
• • By 1931 the six-footer had ventured into cinematic fare and was seen in 38 motion pictures such as "Two-Faced Woman" [1941] with Garbo. His final role on the big screen was as Rugged in "Journey for Margaret" [1942] when he was 38 years old. G. P. Huntley died in Woodland Hills, California on 26 June 1971. He was 67.
• • February 1934 issue of Billboard • •
• • The February 1934 issue of Billboard ran this headline: "Mae West's Court Duties Delay 'It Ain't No Sin'" and the article provided an update: Production on the Mae West picture, "It Ain't No Sin," will not get under way at Paramount next week, as was planned. Miss West, who is writing the script herself, has been kept busy at court for the past week and has been unable to finish the script. The date set for production now is February 12. George Raft is slated for the male lead and Leo McCarey will direct.
• • Complications to this scheme were revealed on another page: Charles Rogers' scrap with Paramount over getting the people he wants for his pictures has again resulted in his placing a yarn on the shelf. This is "Nick the Greek," which had been built with hopes of George Raft being set for the lead. Instead Paramount shifted Raft into the Mae West picture, "It Ain't No Sin."
• • Further on, Mae's fans learned: Sam Coslow will act and sing his own song as well in "It Ain't No Sin," Mae West's next picture for Paramount which Leo McCarey directs.
• • Warners hope they have another Mae West in Barbara Blair — — the gal writes all her own material, too.
• • In February 1934 on Newsstands • •
• • "Mae West Loses Her Man" in Screen Book • •
• • The Hollywood Reporter wrote: Screen Book for February (1934) has a slight edge over Screenland. Art is better, and the writers took a little more time over their stories. Helen Louise Walker has two good yarns, "Alice White Starts Another Fight" and "I'll Never Be Afraid Again" (Claudette Colbert). Dena Reed also has two stories, "Mae West Loses Her Man" and "The Ultimate in Entertainment." . . . [text from The Hollywood Reporter, 5 February 1934]
• • Silver Screen for February 1934 ran an article written by Patricia Keats: "The Four Big Shots of Hollywood" (Mae West, Janet Gaynor, Katharine Hepburn, and Marie Dressler).
• • In Silver Play for February 1934, journalist Wilbur Morse, Jr. took readers through the police investigation in Hollywood and described how the jewel thieves were captured in his piece "Mae West Got Her Men."
• • New Movie's February issue offered Dorothy Manners's take on "Mae West's Perfect Day," and the cover price was a dime.
• • In Movie Mirror's February issue the editors ran the third installment of "Mae West's Life Story" by Harry Lang.
• • The February Movie Classic continued Ruth Biery's often-quoted interview with Mae, "The Private Life of Mae West"; this was the second part in a series of three segments.
• • Finale on Saturday, 26 February 1949 • •
• • A revival "Diamond Lil" opened at the Coronet Theatre [5 February 1949 — 26 February 1949] on Broadway. Though the curtain came down on February 26th in Manhattan, Mae kept touring.
• • The Coronet at 230 W. 49th St., New York, NY was renamed the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in 1959.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "And now do you want to hear what I think of the men who support me in the cast of 'Go West, Young Man' — — Warren William, Randolph Scott, Lyle Talbot, high-class guys with plenty of individuality!"
• • Mae West said: "Have your face lifted if necessary. It's easier to lift a sagging chin than to lift the mortgage on a sagging romance."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about censorship and "dirt" in movies defended Mae West.
• • This "Letter to the Editors" was written by John F. Goodrich in 1934.
• • Dear Hollywood Reporter:
• • Your Kansas exhibitor, writing of dirt in pictures, is right. He's right from a psychological as well as a practical viewpoint. To me, one of the most amazing things about pictures is the appalling waste of money due to the producers' disinclination — — even flat refusal — — to profit by well established psychological laws of group reactions to given situations. Don't they know that for years scientists have been analyzing mental reactions in laboratories just as precise as chemical laboratories, and that, through these far- flung and minutely recorded observations, definite laws have been established, as constant as the laws of physics? . . .
• • . . . Any intelligent psychologist will tell them that there is a natural tendency towards vulgarity and commonness in every man and woman. . . . The more these tendencies are held in check the greater the enjoyment of seeing and hearing vulgarity and commonness.
• • Mae West is presenting what an audience would like to do and say but dare not • •
• • A man loves to see the curves of another man's wife, but he wants his own wife on the square. Therein lies the success of the Mae West pictures. I am not, in any way, casting any criticisms on Mae West personally, but she is the luscious personification of the common and vulgar. Therefore, any censure that may fall on her personality or her pictures is unfair to her. The censure should fall upon the minds of the audience, because Mae West is presenting in a perfectly natural way what the people in the audience would like to do and say but dare not.
• • The motion picture producers see Mae West get away with it and immediately jump to the conclusion that it is what Mae is saying that counts, but in this they are childishly wrong. Mae West saying and doing something is all right; Loretta Young or Janet Gaynor saying and doing the same thing is immoral and dirty. Why? Because Mae West is established as a definite norm of action and thought. Loretta and Janet are definitely established as other norms of entirely different characters.
• • There is a natural place for dirt . . . • •
• • Therefore, when the producer forces a sweet young girl to do things that are all right and proper for Mae West to do, there is but one reaction in the minds of the audience — — some foul-minded employer is prostituting a sweet young thing. There is a natural place for dirt, in its place it is enjoyed by all. Out of its place it is censured justly. If the producers would subject their pictures to an intelligent, scientific, psychological analysis, all dirt would be allocated to its proper environment and to proper characters and not only would such dirt be entertaining, but censure would be absent.
• • Your Kansas exhibitor spoke wisely when he defined dirt as anything out of place. The problem is a simple one: don't show anything or say anything out of place and there is no dirt. . . . The means to eradicate censure are at the producers' hands — — will they accept them?
• • Source: Open Forum: "Dear Editors" written by John F. Goodrich to The Hollywood Reporter; published on page 7, on 28 April 1934
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2221st 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:
Add to Google
• • Photo: • • Mae West • Mavis Arden's car, 1936 • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.