Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mae West: Without a Corset

MAE WEST consented to pose without a corset. A lengthy interview accompanied the photo and was syndicated in many news dailies on Wednesday, 20 March 1940.
• • On Wednesday, 20 March 1940 in the Independent • •
• • The top left corner of page 8 of the Wednesday, 20 March 1940 issue of the Independent showed Mae West in a bathing suit or a leotard, bare legged and partially shielded by a flowing dressing gown. Her waist was trim, her stomach flat, her legs shapely. Her feet and shoes were carefully obscured by the robe.
• • The "Harrison in Hollywood" columnist Paul Harrison had snagged an interview with the movie queen. His headline was: "Mae West Suspends Posing As Lolling Nymph Long Enough to Exhibit Herself As Gymnast — — She Scorns All Hobbies, Has Quit Going to Prize Fights, Devotes Hours Writing Plays, Dictating Mae Scripts."
• • Paul Harrison explained: It may come as a shock to some of the parishioners to hear that Mae West takes exercises. It was to me, anyway. Here, I always had thought was a true Sybarite, a voluptuary lolling in a Louis XIV den of misters, ermine, and busy ivory telephones. Or Aphrodite reclining in a foam bath and reading Variety.
• • Paul Harrison continued: In most ways Mae has been remarkably inactive. Never drives her own cars, doesn't dance, swim or ride horseback. Has no interest in gardening, cooking, or knitting. She loathes all games from tennis to chess. She doesn't attend parties and is no longer a regular spectator at boxing matches because, she said, she can't endure the smell of cigars.
• • Paul Harrison continued: On a movie set, she displays, among other things, great physical fortitude in her torcherous (sic) corsets. Those, together with her high heels, are responsible for her celebrated waddle, and it has been guessed that if she ever fell down while thus encumbered, she'd be helpless as an overturned turtle.
• • Paul Harrison revealed: The other day she astonished Universal by consenting to pose for pictures with various gymnastic accessories in the spare bedroom of her mirrored bower on the seventh floor of the Ravenswood apartments. She has a couple of five pound dumbbells, a contraption with handles and cords that work like a human pulling machine, and a plain traction bar such as ballet dancers hang onto while toning up. I suspect that Miss West wanted to show that she is not as oddly formed as her screen costumes make her appear. . . .
• • Paul Harrison noted that Mae was considerably shorter than the height given on her press materials. He said she is barely taller than five feet. Her fans were given a glimpse of how she exercises and a hint that she loves sweets and hates to diet. But if she has to lose weight in a hurry, she goes on a steak diet. Details about her writing habits followed along with the news that she had completed a new script about Catherine the Great and hoped a producer would come up and see her.
• • Paul Harrison concluded his piece by speculating about the film star's age in light of what he gleaned about her early Broadway credits. Tsk, tsk! Guess Paul never followed the Frank Wallace divorce debacle in the mid-1930s that revealed how old Mae was when she wed in 1911.
• • On Friday, 20 March 1914 • •
• • An item in the Columbus Journal newspaper dated for Friday, 20 March 1914 ran like this: "Love laughs at locksmiths" and Cupid takes long chances, even in vaudeville. But Guido Deiro, the accordion player now at Keith's, put him through very hard paces yesterday. Deiro braved the wrath of those who might oppose him and secretly skipped off to Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday morning in order to see his fiancee, Mae West, who is playing at the Keith house in that city. He left at 1:05 AM and got back at 3:10 PM, just in the nick of time to go on for his last act.... He played his accordion as he had never played it before, for he had the inspiration.
• • On Thursday, 20 March 1930 • •
• • The Thursday issue of The New York Times (on 20 March 1930) continued their coverage of the infamous "Pleasure Man" trial presided over by Judge Amedeo Bertini. The District Attorney's office was now headed by former State Supreme Court Justice Thomas T.C. Crain. And his prosecutor was hot-headed James Wallace who swore he would "prove that it would take the most confirmed pervert to write such a play." The star of the proceedings went first on the witness stand: NYC Police Captain James J. Coy, who led the charge of the night brigade as it descended on two different occasions on Mae's gay play at the Biltmore.
• • Though Nathan Burkan, her legal counsel, kept Mae off the stand, she told a reporter that, if anyone needs a dirty play, they should go straight to James Wallace.
• • On Friday, 20 March 1936 • •
• • "Smoke, Fire, and Mae West" read a headline in the Examiner on Friday, 20 March 1936. The editors explained: Mae West gave permission to an American firm to make dolls in her likeness. The day operations began, the factory caught fire. Now what do you make of that?
• • On 20 March 1955 • •
• • "The Mae West Revue" was booked on 20 March 1995 at The Italian Village. Both Mae West and Mr. America Richard DuBois signed autograph books when the show was seen at that venue.
• • On 20 March 2005 • •
• • His most famous invention was the Mae West vest. Inventor Andrew J. Toti (born on 24 July 1915) died in Modesto, California on 20 March 2005.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Men, make every woman love you — — but don't love every woman."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article mentioned Mae West bought a race horse.
• • Film Daily printed this: Markesan, Wisconsin — Mae West, screen star, has purchased Elizabeth Heberling, trotter, from Dr. D. R. Edwards, local veterinarian. For the present the horse will remain in the Edwards stables and will tour the race circuits next year with the rest of his racers. ...
• • Film Daily costs 5 cents. John W. Alicoate was the Editor and Publisher.
• • Source: News Brief: "Mae West Buys Race Horse" published in Film Daily, Vol. LXVI, No. 102; printed on Tuesday, 30 October 1934
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2244th 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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• • Photo: • • Mae West • 1949 • •
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