Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mae West: Wits of Hollywood

Silver Screen Magazine featured MAE WEST on the cover for the February 1934 issue. Under Mae's portrait is the cover line "The Wits of Hollywood." A fine tribute and a beautiful portrait kissed with sunshine yellows.
• • Louis Calhern born 19 February 1895 • •
• • Mae West was introduced to Louis Calhern when he was a marquee name on The Great White Way. Six-foot-two and distinguished looking, Calhern was put to good use in classics such as "Hedda Gabler,"
light comedies, Shakespearean tragedies, and dramas from 1923 — 1955. Julia Hoyt and Louis Calhern were often at a front row table at Texas Guinan's deluxe speakeasies during their short-lived marriage [1927 — 1932]. Calhern married four times.
• • Having cut his teeth on Broadway, Louis Calhern [19 February 1895 — 12 May 1956] also accepted screen roles. However, he did not hit his stride until the 1950s when a string of big-budget hits ("Annie Get Your Gun," "Asphalt Jungle," etc.) raised his profile. Altogether he was seen in 72 motion pictures from 1921 — 1956, from Marx Brothers comedies to heavy-duty dramas.
• • One of his earliest minor movie credits was an appearance in a vehicle that brought Mae West to Hollywood. Louis Calhern played Dick Bolton in "Night After Night." Calhern had but a single scene in this picture.
• • His aristocratic bearing led audiences to believe, perhaps, that he hailed from high society. In reality, Louis Calhern was born Carl Vogt to middle-class parents in Brooklyn, New York. When he was a boy, his family moved to St. Louis. While playing football in high school, he was spotted by a rep for a theatrical touring troupe and hired as an actor. His stage career was interrupted by military service in France in World War I.
• • Calhern was in Tokyo, Japan, filming "The Teahouse of the August Moon" [1956] when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 61.
• •
"Night After Night," adapted from Louis Bromfield's story, "Single Night"; directed by Archie Mayo; produced by Paramount Pictures.
• • Edward Gargan died on 19 February 1964 • •
• • Mae West starred in "Belle of the Nineties" [1934] and worked with numerous character actors such as Brooklynite Edward Gargan, who portrayed Ruby Carter's agent Stogie.
• • Born of Irish parentage in Kings County on 17 July 1902, Edward Gargan was the older brother of actor William Gargan. Both were often cast as dumb Irish policemen or detectives as well as befuddled or dunderheaded sidekicks. It's odd that Edward often wound up in demeaning ethnic roles since he was a college grad with extensive stage training. After appearing in numerous plays, Edward Gargan embarked on a career in the screen trade in 1931. He was one of the most prolific bit players, logging in almost 300 films on his resume between 1931 — 1952, and a scattering of TV work from 1951 — 1953. He died in New York City in the month of February — — on 19 February 1964. He was 61 years old.
• • On Monday, 19 February 1940 in Life Magazine • •
• • The cover of Life Magazine's issue dated for 19 February 1940 featured the King of Romania. Inside were two aristocrats of comedy: Mae West and W.C. Fields.
• • On Monday, 19 February 2001 in Broadway to Vegas • •
• • Laura Deni wrote: The 7th Annual Red Ball held on Valentine's Day at the Waldorf in New York City, honored Clive Davis and Elaine and Jerry Ohrbach. During this year's event honoree Jerry Orbach divulged that as a struggling actor he needed a job to pay the bills so he got a job as Mae West's chauffeur [from Ms. Deni's fascinating weekly issue dated 19 February 2001].
• • On Sunday, 19 February 2012 in England • •
• • The Edward Burra exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery in West Sussex ends on 19 February 2012. This has been the first major show for over 25 years of the work of Edward Burra [1905 — 1976], whose fascination with Mae West and his love of theatrical spectacle, film, and ballet are reflected in these canvases along with his eccentric illustrations for Humbert Woolf’s book "The ABC of the Theatre" (1932).
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • From jail in April 1927, Mae West said: "I will probably write a new play based on my experiences here. It will have to be okayed by the learned district attorney before I can put it on."
• • Mae West said: "I'm all dignity."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Simon Doonan's interview mentioned Mae West.
• • Raquel Welch proves to be a warm, droll, intelligent, delightfully unguarded and extremely cheeky interviewee. Her account of working with Mae West on Myra
— she leaps from her chair and does a spirited imitation — — is riveting. Two tidbits stand out: Firstly, Raquel tells us that, after a close-up scrutiny of Mae’s sturdy, butch hands — — a rogue fake fingernail unglued itself while Raquel was clutching La West’s paw — — she was left with the distinct impression that Miss West might not have been, how shall I say, woman-born. Secondly, according to Raquel, Mae had only one speed. It mattered not whether the cameras were whirring. Her entire life was spent mincing about in circles and dispensing those double-entendres in that voice. ...
• • Source: Article: "My Night with Raquel" written by Simon Doonan for Slate; posted on Thursday, 16 February 2012
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2214th 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 Silver Screen in 1934 • •
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