Monday, March 19, 2012

Mae West: Margy LaMont's Last

It was late on Saturday night, 19 March 1927 when the Broadway play "Sex," written by and starring MAE WEST as Margy LaMont, voluntarily closed. The newspapers reported: ". . . warrants were served on the cast and owners for staging an obscene show."
• • Several New Yorkers had seen "Sex" more than once — — including Sergeant Patrick Keneally, who had taken an exhaustive number of notes while attending three performances at Daly's 63rd Street Theatre in the line of duty.
• • Police action against "Sex" had been more in opposition to "The Drag" than to Margy LaMont's lascivious adventures, explains Jill Watts in her impeccably researched bio: "Mae West: An Icon in Black and White."
• • According to Jill Watts: While efforts to mothball "The Drag" succeeded, "Sex" played to capacity crowds for several more weeks. However, by the beginning of March [1927], attendance had died off and profits shrank. Desperate to keep the production alive, the Moral Production Corporation ordered a 25% pay cut for everyone. Several players handed in their notices.
• • Finally, on Saturday, 19 March 1927, after the evening's performance had ended, C. William Morganstern announced that Mae West was physically exhausted and was closing the play. Yet he also emphasized her determination to fight the case to its end.
• • The play "Courting Mae West" dramatizes this turmoil and legal wrangling, based on true events in Mae's life and career from 1926 — 1932.
• • Jack Bonavita [1866 — 19 March 1917] • •
• • For years, Mae talked about, and thought about, the impression Bostock's lions left on her when she saw them at Dreamland. The lead lion tamer was the dashing Captain Jack Bonavita. Born in Philadelphia in 1866, his muscular frame and courage — — not to mention his sleek military garb, knee-high boots, and sinister moustache — — made him popular with the ladies. Actress Marie Dressler, then working a concession at Coney Island, caught Jack Bonavita's act as often as she could. And it was an unparalleled performance that the 38-year-old trainer gave with his 26 trained lions. Stupendous.
• • Mae's fixation on Jack Bonavita and Bostock's lions inspired her to do "I'm No Angel," in which she fulfilled a lifelong dream of being inside the cage with the king of beasts. Born under the sun sign Leo, Mae felt destined for this — — and she insisted on performing her own stunts. The film begins with Mae riding an elephant in a tight white jumpsuit. How many other 41-year-old actresses are eager to take risks like that?
• • Unfortunately, Dreamland burned to the ground on May 1911.
• • Frank Bostock died, after a bout with influenza, in October 1912.
• • From 1913 — 1917 Jack Bonavita focused on filmmaking, working as a stunt man, a director, and an actor. His silent films always co-starred wild animals and some of the lion or jaguar tamers he had worked with at Bostock's Circus. A few flickers he starred in were: "Avenged by Lions" [1916] and "The Woman, the Lion, and the Man" [1915].
• • Mae's hero Jack Bonavita died in Los Angeles, California from a polar bear attack in the month of March — — on Saturday, 19 March 1917. He was 51.
• • On Thursday, 19 March 1914 • •
• • An item mentioning accordionist Guido Deiro's relationship with a 20-year-old Mae West was printed in The Columbus Ledger on Thursday, 19 March 1914. The Ohio based staff writer explained: “If memory serves, Miss West introduced Deiro, who was visiting here that week, as her fiancĂ©, ‘Count Guido,’ Guido being his first name. It is refreshing to find that 'he ain’t no such animal' (as Mae seems to have clarified in her quaint Brooklynese).”
• • On Saturday, 19 March 1927 • •
• • Mae West signed the "Sex" checks. Three promissory notes dated for Saturday, 19 March 1927 from the Moral Producing Corporation, $1000 each to Harold Spielberg, signed on the verso in original ink "Mae West" together with a check drawn on the Bowery and East River National Bank, dated 2 March 1927, signed by Mae West as President of the Moral Producing Corporation.
• • Sold in 1994 by the NYC auction house Christies. The sale was "Film and Television Memorabilia" and Mae's items were Lot 65.
• • On Monday, 19 March 1934 in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West's motion picture, with a working title of "It Ain't No Sin," began production in mid-March — — on Monday, 19 March 1934. In the script, Ruby Carter, the American beauty queen of the night club and sporting world set, shifts her operations from St. Louis to New Orleans.
• • From "Belle of the Nineties" [1934] • •
• • • • Ace Lamont: Great town, St. Louis. You were born here?
• • • • Ruby Carter: Yes.
• • • • Ace Lamont: What part?
• • • • Ruby Carter: Why, all of me.
• • According to the venerable Hollywood publicist A.C. Lyles, attached for decades to Paramount Pictures, some press agents, who were assigned to promote Mae West’s next picture "It Ain't No Sin," bought 50 parrots and had the macaws trained to utter the film’s title. The intention was to ship one parrot to every notable movie columnist across the world. The entertainment editor, presumably, would unwrap the cage and immediately hear the parrot plug the film. Unfortunately, one month before the publicity department prepared to give the trained featherweights a send-off, Paramount's front office cabled that they were changing the title of the 1934 movie to "Belle of the Nineties," thanks to Will Hays.
• • "Belle of the Nineties" was in production from 19 March 1934 until June 1934.
• • On Wednesday, 19 March 1986 in The L.A. Times • •
• • Obituary: Stanley Musgrove, 61; TV Producer, Writer
• • Stanley E. Musgrove, for 20 years president of the Friends of the USC Libraries, a support group for the 16 libraries at the university, died Thursday (on 13 March 1986) of cancer at a Mission Hills Hospital. He was 61.
• • The producer and writer, who graduated from USC's School of Cinema-Television in 1947, was responsible for dinners honoring such entertainment celebrities as Cole Porter, George Cukor, Moss Hart, and Louis Armstrong. He also was publicist for Mae West, Cole Porter, and Guy Madison and at his death was preparing to produce a television film of a book on Miss West that he co-authored. [Source: The L.A. Times on 19 March 1986]
• • Stanley E. Musgrove was quick to say he was not Mae's agent, but he was [or became] her publicist. He often "ran interference" for the star, screening her visitors, as well as autograph-hunters or admirers who were after her picture. Musgrove came to know many Hollywood personalities, from actors to directors. He collaborated with George Eells on Mae West: A Biography [NY: William Morrow, 1982].
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "My play 'Sex" was a work of art."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about Queen Latifah mentioned Mae West.
• • Linda Mizejewski wrote: As this suggests, the performance is not simply tough chick but tough chick from the 'hood, and here the class and racial issues overlapping with Mae West more pointedly delineate the female bodies excluded from romantic comedy. Mae West's success as a 1930s sex symbol was highly racialized, as Wojcik has shown, particularly in her screen relationships with subordinate black female characters. These relationships constructed, through contrast, "West's glowing whiteness" (290), but the films also emphasized West's intimacy and identification with these women as winking co-conspirators about sex with men, and also as possible lesbian interests. This association, claims Wojcik, constructed West's sexuality as working-class, an effect intensified by her appropriation of a "dirty blues" singing style that in the 1930s was associated with lower-class black culture (291-92). . . .
• • Source: Review: "Queen Latifah, Unruly Women, and the Bodies of Romantic Comedy" written by Linda Mizejewski for Genders Magazine; published in Issue 46, 2007
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2243rd 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:
Source: to Google
• • Photo: • • Mae West • 1934 • •• • Feed — —
Mae West.

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