Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mae West: Acid Threats

The legal battles MAE WEST fought often seemed to occur early in the year.
• • After facing down the man who robbed her in Hollywood on 18 September 1932 in a courtroom, Mae was shocked and horrified to learn that stick-up-artist Harry Voiler [1891 — 1974] was released on bail in Miami during February 1934.
• • There was indignation in the interviews she gave. Mae told the news media: "It's time someone in Hollywood — — speaking very frankly — — showed what is known as intestinal fortitude. They threaten us in the picture colony under penalty of having acid thrown in our face. And they don't stop at acid threats either. They threaten to kill. It's time someone called their hand. And if it has to be me, I'll do it." [from an article printed in the Calgary Daily Herald on 24 February 1934]
• • Ethel Merman [16 January 1908 — 15 February 1984]
• •
• • Merman's Jealousy of Mae West • •
• • Native New Yorker Ethel Merman took her first stab at Tinseltown in the fall of 1933. The singing actress and her mother moved into a Hancock Park apartment building called The Ravenswood, where Mae West was already nicely settled in.
• • Brian Kellow writes: Tired of having her achievements overlooked, Ethel got a little testy with the Hollywood press when it was suggested that her performing style owed something to Mae West's. Although they occupied different floors of the Ravenswood, West had not been particularly friendly, and Ethel got even by telling reporters that it was she who had started the Mae West vogue, not the other way around. "I was singing 'Eadie Was a Lady' all dressed up with the wiggly hips an' everything before Mae West's first picture, Night After Night, came out," Ethel said, ". . . so I shall always claim Mae sailed to glory on my vogue." In fact, West's style was fully evolved by the time of her big stage successes of the 1920s, long before she hit Hollywood. But Ethel's rewriting of history was a good indication of her defensiveness over her treatment in Hollywood. ...
• • Source: "Ethel Merman: A Life" by Brian Kellow (from Chapter 5)
• • On Tuesday, 15 February 1927 in Manhattan • •
• • In New York City on 15 February 1927 there had been a hearing against "Sex" in the Magistrate's Court, closely followed by The New York Times and other newspapers.
• • It was on that Tuesday in mid-February that Mae West's obscenity trial officially began.
• • Police inspector James Bolan was called as a witness for the prosecution in West Side Special Sessions Court. "He produced a sheaf of yellow paper, adjusted his eyeglasses and read in a solemn tone that suggested a church service," went one newspaper account of the courtroom's activities published on 16 February 1927. "The inspector's lean, grave face ministered to the effect."
• • At the beginning of her trial, Mae West was still shuttling back and forth from Jefferson Market Court on Sixth Avenue in the daytime to Daly's 63rd Street Theatre in the evening to perform onstage in "Sex" — — eight times a week — — as usual. But there was nothing "usual" about this.
• • "Playing the publicity angle for all it was worth, the producers and the cast of 'Sex' applied for, and were granted, a jury trial instead of a trial before three judges in Special Session," wrote Emily Wortis Leider in Becoming Mae West. "In early March (1927) the grand jury returned an indictment against the management and part of the cast. Mae West and the other indicted cast members entered their plea: Not guilty."
• • On Saturday, 15 February 1936 in Motion Picture Herald • •
• • An article "Klondike Annie" was printed in Motion Picture Herald on page 44 on 15 February 1936.
• • Bidding Ended at 3 PM on 15 February 2007 • •
• • A very beautiful Mae West carnival statue in delicately painted pastels over plaster was being auctioned by Hake's Americana & Collectibles. This Mae West figurine [Item # 371] was described like this: 14.25” tall. 1930s. Mae West is in classic pose with sparkle accent remnants on her dress, jewelry and hair. Scattered dust soiling to raised areas. Some scattered paint loss to back of neck. VF.
• • It was not sold in that February 2007 California sale, which ended at 3 PM.
• • On Sunday, 15 February 2009 • •
• • Book reviewer Tricia Springstubb wrote: The sofa is gilt, covered in eggshell satin, and the extended hand is baby soft, dripping with diamonds. But look out. Those diamonds are "old-cut" and sharp enough to scratch your palm. According to Mae West, that's the best kind, and what better authority than Diamond Lil herself?
• • Book reviewer Tricia Springstubb continued: "She Always Knew How," a biography from Charlotte Chandler, reads like an extended conversation with this witty, provocative, surprisingly sweet woman, and it's hard to imagine better entertainment than the musings of a "girl who climbed the ladder of success, wrong by wrong." . . .
• • Source: Review: "Sexy, sassy and smart, Mae West ruled the screen and her own career" written by Tricia Springstubb for The Cleveland Plain Dealer; published on Sunday, 15 February 2009
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "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." [in reference to Frank Wallace on Friday, 28 February 1936]
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • "Come Up and See Me Sometime" is a collection of thirteen short stories about thirteen women trying to negotiate human relationships while keeping themselves intact. Each story revolves around a quote by Mae West — — and the book is now available through Scribner (U.S.), Fourth Estate (U.K.), BTB (Germany), Vassallucci (Holland), Hayakawa Publishing Company (Japan), Tuttle (Taiwan), Quai Voltaire (France), and Grijalbo (Spain). Stories from the collection have appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Story, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, and the 2001 Summer Fiction issue of The New Yorker. "Come Up and See Me Sometime" won the Paterson Fiction Prize and was chosen as a Notable Book of the year by The New York Times.
• • "...Dead-on dialogue, realistically drawn scenes of extreme psychological discomfort, a subtle use of metaphor, and bursts of lyric epiphany: an irresistible debut."
• • — — Starred review from Kirkus Reviews, 15 February 2001
• • "Erika Krouse invokes the free-spirited sass of Mae West by setting off each short story in her promising debut collection with a Mae West quip. Like her muse, Erika Krouse focuses on savvy, sexy women who need loving, but need their autonomy more. Propelled by mordant wit, and an honesty that can sting, these gripping stories sometime veer into dark territory. Their compressed intensity explodes on impact." — — Emily Wortis Leider, author of "Becoming Mae West"
• • Source:
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2210th 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 • circa 1933, courtesy of R. Mark desJardins • •
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