Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mae West: Bradford Girl

How many performers could say they were arrested with MAE WEST?
• • "Police Raid Three Shows: Sex, Captive, and Virgin Man — Hold Actors and Managers" announced The N.Y. Times in boldfaced print on 10 February 1927.
• • On Wednesday, 9 February 1927 Mae West — — along with the cast of "Sex," and the cast of "The Captive," and the cast of "The Virgin Man" — — was cuffed and brought to Night Court. At the Empire Theatre, where "The Captive" was staged, James P. Sinnott, Secretary of the Police Department, personally supervised the arrest of the leading lady, Helen Menken, wrapped in elegant gray furs. Five principals from the cast were ushered into a waiting Police Department limousine. Since "Sex" had a huge cast of several dozen, it took ten policemen, accompanied by Deputy Chief Inspector James S. Bolan to arrest Mae West and twenty others at Daly's West 63rd Street Theatre and herd them into vehicles.
• • Three lawyers represented this tarnished trinity of Broadway producers and their casts.. James A. Timony was on hand for Mae West and her "Sex" mates (soon to be inmates). Nathan Burkan represented Menken, Basil Rathbone, producer Gilbert Miller, and the rest of the troupe from "The Captive." Attorney Fred M. Wolf looked after the group from "The Virgin Man."
• • After 10:00 PM, Helen Menken [1901 — 1966], Dorothy Hall [1906 — 1953], and Mae West were charged with "contributing to a common nuisance" and "obscene exhibition" and found that their actions were answerable to Magistrate John Flood Wells, who set bail at $1,000 each.
• • On 10 February 1927, some of the local newspapers focused more on Miss Hall and Miss Menken than on Mae West. All three producers sought restraining orders permitting them to reopen. Under fire, Dorothy Hall immediately quit the play and Lucille Lortel replaced her. Benefiting from the arrest and press attention, the comedy "The Virgin Man" remained on stage until March for a total of 63 performances.
• • On Tuesday, 1 March 1927 in Olean Evening Times • •
• • Born in Bradford, PA in 1906, 21-year-old ingenue Dorothy Hall was the youngest actress to be charged with a misdemeanor. And unlike the 10-month-long box-office bonanza "Sex" had become, "The Virgin Man" had only debuted three weeks before on 18 January 1927 at the Princess Theatre (at 104 West 39th Street) and was struggling to find an audience before the purity police targeted it, creating fresh interest.
• • When The Olean Evening Times did their article, they actually quoted 33-year-old Mae West more than Miss Hall. The daughter of a staid Methodist family in Bradford, PA, the young woman had only been allowed to come to NYC on the pretext of studying interior decorating. But a talent agent spotted her and she was cast as a movie extra. Embarrassed after notifying everyone to see the film, only to learn her scenes had been cut, she decided that the theatre was more reliable than the cinema.
• • "The Drag" — an exposition of psychopathic conduct . . . • •
• • The Olean Evening Times took Mae to task for "Sex" as well as "The Drag," which the reporter Virginia Swan described as "an exposition of psychopathic conduct." Was Mae West chastened after the arrest? "Sure, I know what audiences like," Mae assured the news reporters. "And when it comes in sex portrayals, I know my onions. My play is true to life. And how can anyone suppress truth?"
• • In contrast, Dorothy Hall told Virginia Swan: "The truth is no excuse. Many things are true which are not entertainment. Even when a play is sincere and restrained it may be dangerous." She added: "It's reached the place when lovers of the theatre must look even to the theatre's most dreaded foe, censorship, to rescue it from destruction. If censorship will rescue the drama, I'm for it."
• • Dorothy Hall continued her Broadway career, starring in a number of plays until 1941. Hall died in New York City on 3 February 1953. She was 47. Her obituary did not mention her cause of death nor if there were any close relatives left behind to mourn. Few pictures remain so it was fortunate to have this March 1st, 1927 newspaper clipping.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • The legal battles fought by Mae West and Jim Timony are dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets," set during the Prohibition Era. Watch a scene on YouTube. If you are seeking a full-length play based on true events (from 1926 1932) that will attract a large audience, look into this one.
• • "This is great material. I know Mae West would have loved dialogue like this," said Steve Rossi, who worked with the star in "The Mae West Revue."
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • On Sunday, 1 March 1936 in The N.Y. Times • •
• • On Sunday, 1 March 1936 The N.Y. Times mentioned that Mae West confirmed she planned to go to Columbia Pictures with Emanuel Cohen, even though Paramount Pictures declared it had exercised its option and wanted their star to make two more pictures with the studio, the first one to start on 1 April 1936, and the second to start on 1 July 1936.
• • On Sunday, 1 March 1936 • •
• • An article about the disagreements in the Hays Office that disrupted the making of "Klondike Annie" was published in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner's weekend edition on Sunday, 1 March 1936.
• • On Tuesday, 1 March 1960 • •
• • "Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It" by Mae West was released on Tuesday, 1 March 1960.
• • On 1 March 1960 Mae West was a special guest on "The Red Skelton Show" on CBS-TV. In a parody of "Person to Person" (1953), Mae West is interviewed about the three men who do not appear in her autobiography, "Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It": Cauliflower McPugg, San Fernando Red, and Clem Kadiddlehopper (all played by Red Skelton).
• • "The Red Skelton Show" was an American variety show that was a television staple for almost two decades — — from the early 1950s through the early 1970s.
• • You can listen to this on "Mae West — On the Air," a CD that features several of Mae's rare recordings from 1934 — 1960 such as "The Red Skelton Show" — CBS-TV — 1 March 1960.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I never get friendly with the men on the set. The worst woman in pictures has to be careful. I'm all dignity, I tell you."
• • Mae West said: "Men, don't be tight with money or kisses."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about the 1930s Femme Fatale mentioned Mae West.
• • Company wrote: The 1930s belonged to the blonde, to Greta Garbo, Mae West and Marlene Dietrich. 1930s screen sirens were a new breed of beauty, blending sophisticated femininity with dark, exotic glamour. What to wear? Whether you choose to make a bold stance in androgynous tailoring like Dietrich, or go for something more revealing, like Mae West. . . .
• • Source: How to: "Get Your Own Golden Glamour!" written by Company Magazine staff; posted on 28 February 2012
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2225th 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 trial • Dorothy Hall in 1927 • •
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