Friday, February 03, 2012

Mae West: Les Poupees & Lee

During an interview in 1973, Liberace discussed some of those hazy gossip tips (dreamed up by his industrious press agents) that depicted the musician as a fellow who was “romantically linked” to MAE WEST. Surely his fans know by now that those two were never physically involved but, when asked about each other, both stars used to respond with old-school tactfulness and mink-glove diplomacy.
• • On 23 May 1962, the pair attended a premiere at P.J.'s, a 200 seat dinner theatre in Los Angeles. Their entrance together stole the show. Mae was adorned with a great number of diamonds and Liberace wore a dinner jacket made, he said, of spun glass. Puppets representing both of them were the wooden stars of the lavishly appointed stage show "Les poupees de Paris." Puppeteer Sid Krofft designed these figures.
• • Here's Mae West with Diamond Lil's swan bed designed as a puppet by Mr. Krofft. Her topless gown created a stir after it was denounced by Rev. Bill Graham.
• • While the flamboyant, diamond-loving entertainer pursued male lovers in private, Liberace's record company would churn out press release pap describing him as "the perfect all-around man any woman would be thrilled to be with" — — and his cookbooks featured recipes for "Liberace lasagna" (showing off his Betty Crocker side).
• • In case you need a refresher course about this theatrical showman who was born Wladziu Valentino Liberace [16 May 1919 — 4 February 1987], but was better known by only his last name Liberace, he was a famous American entertainer and pianist of Polish and Italian descent. Liberace, known as "Lee" to his friends and "Walter" to family, was born in Wisconsin to Frances Zuchowska, a Polish American, and Salvatore ("Sam") Liberace, an immigrant from Formia, Italy.
• • Writing for The Los Angeles Times in November 1987, Ruth Ryon noted: Liberace was having lunch with Mae West in the late 1950s when the actress told him about a property she sold for several million dollars. "That was when he saw gold in real estate," said Jamie James, who handled Liberace's public relations for 20 years before the musician-showman died last February.
• • Las Vegas was an excellent platform for Mae West in the 1950s. And those casino audiences in the Nevada desert made Liberace a huge star during the 1970s and 1980s.
• • Militant about his myth-making, Liberace always denied he was gay, successfully suing the Daily Mirror in 1957 over a Cassandra column that described him as “fruit-flavored." However, his death revealed the long hushed-up homosexual affairs of the over-the-top keyboard king, along with the fact that he succumbed to AIDS at his winter house in Palm Springs in the month of February — — on 4 February 1987. He was 67.
• • Liberace was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beverly Hills, California on 7 February 1987.
• • On Saturday, 3 February 1934 in The Daily News • •
• • On 3 February 1934, after the jurors deliberated for three days, Edward Friedman was pronounced guilty for robbing Mae West of cash and jewelry. The judge and a number of influential individuals praised Mae for her courage and her determination to fight in the open against thugs and blackmailers who attempted to prey on movie stars. Trial coverage was published in The N.Y. Daily News and other dailies on Saturday, 3 February 1934 and the following day.
• • On Monday, 3 February 1936 in Hollywood • •
• • There must have been a good reason why Paramount Productions published a "Klondike Annie: censorship dialogue script" on Monday, 3 February 1936. This script was 146 pages long.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said this about Liberace in 1954: "The guy's got a lot of charm. I could go for someone that charming. I see good in every man. That's why I'm not married."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article on Cary Grant mentioned Mae West.
• • John Stanley writes: From the moment he arrived in Hollywood in 1932, after a brief fling as a British vaudevillian, Cockney-accented Archibald Alexander Leach was destined to be a leading man with a classic sense of comedy and virility. Soon to become Cary Grant, he landed a Paramount contract and was cast by Mae West in "She Done Him Wrong," with that famous "Come up and see me" line. This three-disc set features five of Grant's earliest and rarest Paramount features . . . .
• • Source: CD review: "Cary Grant: Screen Legend Collection" written by John Stanley for the San Francisco Chronicle; posted on Sunday, 29 January 2012
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2197th 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 • her likeness in Les Poupees de Paris, 1962 • •
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