Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mae West: Clark Gable

The December 1937 radio broadcast on "The Chase and Sanborn Hour" and the lackluster response to "Every Day's a Holiday" [1938] helped to sever the professional relationship between MAE WEST and Paramount Pictures. But Metro-Goldwyn Mayer had their starry eyes on her.
• • A 1938 headline in The Sydney Morning Herald tooted: "Mae West and Clark Gable." The screen queen was in her mid-40s and the leading man was 37 years old
• • "Film News of the Week" announced: It seems impossible to avoid the topic of the new star teams. The latest to be announced is the partnership of Mae West and Clark Gable, who are proposed for the latest roles in "New Orleans," an original story by the man who wrote "San Francisco."
• • "Film News of the Week" explained: These two champions of the rough-and-ready school should make a perfect screen match. The story, however, demands renunciation in the last reel. Mae West, as a torch-singing New Orleans belle, sacrifices love and leaves the hero to the youthful ingenue.
• • "Film News of the Week" continued: Mae West's popularity has been declining rapidly. One group of American exhibitors even went so far as to announce that her name was "poison at the box office." The fact that in the past she has always insisted on writing, casting, and to some extent producing her own films may have something to do with it. M.G.M. have wisely inserted a clause in her contract which confines her activities to acting alone.
• • Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, "Film News of the Week" on page 28, Thursday, 7 July 1938.
• • A year before that, in April 1937, Mae's name was starting to appear in the papers linked to a Clark Gable paternity suit in a very peculiar way. For instance, "It was also alleged that Mae West, the film actress, received letters asking her to intercede with Clark Gable to persuade him to pay Mrs. Violet Norton, 47, a Canadian. ... Mrs. Norton is accused of trying to extort money from Clark Gable, the film actor, by asserting that he is the father of her 13-year-old daughter." Let's move forward to 1939 in Hollywood.
• • On Sunday, 20 February 1939 • •
• • According to Hecht biographer, William MacAdams, “At dawn on Sunday, 20 February 1939, David Selznick … and director Victor Fleming shook Ben Hecht awake to inform him he was on loan from MGM and must come with them immediately and go to work on Gone with the Wind, which Selznick had begun shooting five weeks before. It was costing Selznick $50,000 each day the film was on hold waiting for a final screenplay rewrite and time was of the essence.
• • Clark Gable [1 February 1901 — 16 November 1960] • •
• • Born in Cadiz, Ohio, Clark Gable [1 February 1901 — 16 November 1960] was an American film actor most famous for his role as Rhett Butler in the Civil War epic film "Gone with the Wind" [1939], in which he starred with Vivien Leigh. His performance earned him his third nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
• • Clark Gable's marriage to his third wife, actress Carole Lombard [1908 — 1942], was the happiest period of his personal life. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard had eloped on 29 March 1939 when Gable had two days off from filming "Gone with the Wind" for MGM.
• • Gable died in Los Angeles on 16 November 1960, aged 59, from a coronary thrombosis ten days after suffering a severe heart attack.
• • George Givot [18 February 1903 — 7 June 1984] • •
• • Born in Omaha, Nebraska on 18 February 1903, George Givot gained fame in vaudeville as a dialect comedian. Often appearing onstage as an English-language-mangling Greek immigrant, Givot's familiar tag was this: "How'd ya like that?" He sailed onto The Great White Way in "Earl Carroll's Sketch Book," a musical revue that debuted on 1 July 1929 and lasted for a year until it closed on 7 June 1930.
• • George Givot co-starred opposite Mae West in the Broadway production of "The Constant Sinner" in 1931. Though he continued to work on Broadway until 1962, he was almost always cast in dialect roles as a Latino or a Greek.
• • George Givot died in Palm Springs, California on 7 June 1984. He was 81 years old.
• • On Saturday, 18 February 1933 in The New Yorker • •
• • An article about Mae West and her new film "She Done Him Wrong" was printed in The New Yorker in their issue dated for Saturday, 18 February 1933.
• • On Thursday, 18 February 1999 in Australia • •
• • "She's No Angel: A Mae West Vaudeville" was written by Barry Lowe. This musical featured "witty songs by Sean Peter, and director Jack Webster gives it a larger-than-life verve that threatens to spill out into Queen Street. The vaudeville is tailored to the talents of [George] Hoad ... He makes Mae West a commanding, no-nonsense figure, whose life and career are played out in the manner of a tawdry circus ...," wrote Bryce Hallett.
• • Source: Theatre Review by Bryce Hallett in The Sydney Morning Herald on page 11, on Thursday, 18 February 1999.
• • On Tuesday, 18 February 2003 • •
• • The biography written by Jill Watts "Mae West: An Icon in Black and White" was published on 18 February 2003 by Oxford University Press [USA]. If you love Mae West, then you must own this bio.
• • On 18 February 2004 in The Villager • •
• • "Mae's return court date" was the title in The Villager, a weekly newspaper in Greenwich Village. The cast and the author of “Courting Mae West” celebrated after a staged reading before a full house at Jefferson Market Library.
• • Source: The Villager, Volume 73, Number 42 | February 18 — 24, 2004
• • Link: thevillager.com/villager_42/maereturncourtdate.html
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said upon arriving in Los Angeles: "So this is the place where a leaf falls up in some canyon and they tell you it's winter."
• • Mae West said: "As a rule I have most actors around me work faster than I do; they keep the pace while I take my liberties in my timing."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article on "Myra Breckinridge" mentioned Mae West. Raquel Welch, who appears seldom on the screen and who has been unpopular in Hollywood for decades (despite all her plastic surgery), had nothing good to say about her co-stars from more than 40 years ago. Evidence of the brunette wig-hawker's spiteful personality appears below.
• • Contactmusic wrote: Movie beauty Raquel Welch still has her suspicions that Mae West was a male drag queen after getting up close and personal to the silver screen icon during one of her final films, "Myra Breckinridge" [1970].
• • Contactmusic wrote: The two goddesses spent a lot of time in each other's company on the set of the 1970 film — — and Welch admits she started to think there was something more than a little odd about her co-star.
• • Contactmusic wrote: During a Raquel Welch film retrospective in New York at the weekend (February 11 — 12), the still-stunning actress explained, "She never worked before 5pm and... she also never moved by herself, so the limo that took her to the studio, to her dressing room, also brought her onto the set. So they had to open the huge door where they load in scenery. She was kind of like a piece of scenery!"
• • Contactmusic wrote: "When I went over to say hello to her (one day) I said, 'Hi, it's Raquel, remember?' She sort of extended her hand to me and I went to kiss the ring and one false fingernail painted silver fell to the floor. I looked at the hand and I thought, 'Oh, I'm getting a vibe.' I really think she's a man!"
• • Contactmusic wrote: "At this point in her life all bets are off and you're not going to be able to doll it (appearance) up that much. I would say it's pretty accurate that she resembled a dock worker in drag."
• • Contactmusic wrote: Welch admitted it was a thrill to work with West — — but she took away a very bad memory from their time together: "I had this beautiful dress and it was black with a big white ruffle around the neck and a black velvet hat, based on a costume that was worn by Greta Garbo. It was very chic and I couldn't wait to wear it. (Costume designer) Theodora Van Runkle designed it for the scene with Mae West because she was wearing all white with black trim, so this would be perfect."
• • PHOTO: Theodora Van Runkle designed this costume for Raquel Welch, with the white ruffle around the neck, that Mae objected to.
• • Contactmusic wrote: "Apparently Mae got wind of the fact that I was wearing this exquisite dress and I went to the studio that day for our scene together. I got coiffed, got my hair done and went to the closet to get the dress and it wasn't there. I asked my dresser what happened to the dress and she said, 'It's been confiscated. Mae does not want you to wear that dress. You can wear the red dress that you wore in the last scene!'"
• • Contactmusic wrote: "Mae had approval over everything that was worn on the set... The producer said, 'It's (dress) a non-colour and nobody gets to wear non-colours in the movie but Mae.'"
• • Contactmusic wrote: Welch was so outraged, she stormed off the set and refused to return until the dress was back in her closet. She recalled, "For the scene, we never appeared in a two-shot together. Mae left after she did her lines and I had someone off-camera reading her lines and I had to pretend she was there." ...
• • Source: Interview: "Raquel Welch: 'I Think Mae West Was A Man" written by Contactmusic; posted on: 17 February 2012
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2213th 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/
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