Sunday, April 01, 2012

Mae West: The Ruby Ring

"The Ruby Ring" by MAE WEST was registered with the Library of Congress's Copyright Office early in the month of April — — on Friday, 1 April 1921.
• • It was during March 1921 when Mae West had mailed an envelope to the Library of Congress containing her first playscript, "The Ruby Ring." At 20 pages, this manuscript was more of an extended "sketch" than a play. Gloria, the female lead, is a mantrap who is able to pick the gents off with ease.
• • Her parents were living in Woodhaven in 1921 [705 Boyd Avenue] and Mae used this address when she registered the copyright.
• • In March 1921, Mae was 27 years old. She had been cast in Broadway shows already, she had toured the country in variety, she had been engaged by Hammerstein's Victoria for eleven bookings, she had divorced her second husband Guido Deiro (and abandoned her first husband Frank Wallace in 1911), and developed the acts "Mae West & Sister" and "Mae West & Her Boys." By March 1921, Mae had already appeared on the cover of The N.Y. Dramatic Mirror as well as a few song sheets.
• • In 1922 she would play The Palace with Harry Richman and she was slated to be on stage in the "Ginger Box Review," a musical built around her talents.
• • Seems Mae West's career was blooming in full flower by the time her parents moved to Woodhaven, would you not agree? Jack and Matilda West never lived in one place for very long. By the mid-1920s, they were already residing in Floral Park.
• • After writing three unproduced plays — — "The Ruby Ring" [1921], "The Hussy" [1922], and "Chick: An Unpublished Scandal" [1924] — — Mae West gained momentum and staged her play "Sex" on Broadway in April 1926.
• • Dan Lurie: Mae West on Rockaway Avenue on Horseback • •
• • Born in Mae's hometown, Brooklyn, NY, Dan Lurie came into this world on April Fool's Day, i.e., on Sunday, 1 April 1923. A world-class bodybuilder in the 1940s, by 1949 he held the Mr. America title. Dan Lurie considers himself to be a founding father of bodybuilding and a physical fitness pioneer.
• • In 1975, 52-year-old muscleman Dan Lurie honored Mae West along with Robert Redford, Joe Bonomo, Chris Dickerson, Dave Draper, and The "Mighty Atom" Joe Greenstein, another native of Kings County. During that time, Dan Lurie was interviewed about his experiences with the Hollywood screen queen.
• • The article, titled "Dan Would Come Up to See Her Sometimes," was a charming close-up glimpse. Here is a tiny excerpt.
• • [ Q ] You honored Mae West with an award for sexiest woman of the century. Why did you choose her for this award and what was she like?
• • [ A ] Yes, I met Mae West at her home place. After being with her the first three hours, I told her, "Ms. West, I can't give you any more of my time." Of course, she was the one who was helping me. I said, "My wife is downstairs and she is going to be quite upset."
• • She asked if my wife would like to come upstairs and meet her. I said, "No, she's not one of your fans."
• • She told me to go downstairs and bring my wife up. And that's what we did. After a half an hour they were the best of friends. We found out something strange. Mae was born in Brooklyn and her father's name was Jack West — — he was a fighter. In between fights, Jack West would rent a horse and wagon and sell fruit in his neighborhood.
• • As a kid, she would go to Rockaway Avenue to pick up the horse and wagon.
• • My grandfather owned the place where the cart was kept so we got very warm — — I mean, what a connection. We spoke more about her father and what she did when she was living in Brooklyn. She never flew, but always took the train. She was scared of flying. And of all places, she is now buried in Brooklyn. . . .
• • Dan Lurie is 89 years old today! Enjoy the day in good health!
• • Script Approval on Monday, 1 April 1935 • •
• • An enormous international cast was assembled to do justice to Mae West's ambitious screenplay "Now I'm a Lady" centered around the horsey set. Script approval was granted by the Hays Commission on Monday, 1 April 1935 and the motion picture was released by Paramount Pictures the following month as "Goin' to Town."
• • Starting on Wednesday, 1 April 1936 • •
• • On Sunday, 1 March 1936 The New York 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 screen star to make two more pictures with the studio, the first one to start on Wednesday 1 April 1936 — — and the second to start on 1 July 1936.
• • On Wednesday, 1 April 1942 • •
• • On 1 April 1942, Lou Walters opened The Latin Quarter in Manhattan. During the 1950s, Mae brought the "Mae West Revue" there twice.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: ”I heard the applause… applause just for me, and I knew they really liked me, and I knew then there wasn’t any other place I ever wanted to be.”
• • Mae West said: "Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about a Newark vaudeville house mentioned Mae West.
• • Kelly Lincoln wrote: Opened in 1895 as the Newark Vaudeville house, it was converted in 1917 by Newark's own architect, Thomas W. Lamb into a movie palace, with a neo-classical interior that became known as "adamesque." In 1932, it was renamed the Paramount.
• • Kelly Lincoln noted: It operated as a movie theater until Tuesday, 1 April 1986, when a 500% increase in insurance forced the 2003 seat theater and the Adams theater to close.
• • Kelly Lincoln wrote: Among the stars that trod the boards were Mae West, according to Variety . . . .
• • Source: Article: "Mae West sold out here" written by Kelly Lincoln for; posted on 28 July 2010
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2256th 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 • in April 1923 • •
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Manny Tanks said...

Another great post. Thank you!

I hope it's cool to ask a couple of questions. (I'll of course understand if you're too busy to answer them.)

1. I'm wondering if there's any film footage of Mae before she became a movie star -- for example (in my dreams) footage showing her performing on stage ? A cursory search at YouTube turned up nothing prior to her arrival in Hollywood. Do you know if any such newsreel or home movie footage exists ?

2. In the interview with Dick Cavett posted on YouTube, he asks Mae if she kept a diary and she says yes ! Granted, it may merely have been a set-up for her line about "a gal keeps a diary and someday it may keep her." Do you know if she did, in fact, keep a diary and if so, has it ever turned up ?

Also, a quick digression: after reading (and greatly enjoying) your blog about Jefferson Market, I Googled up a recent article that said the exterior had, at long last, been restored. Just wanted to offer my congratulations on your helping to save that historic building !

Thanks again, and keep up the great work.

P.S. In response to my earlier comment, you said you wished you knew my name. Unfortunately, due to a run-in with a vicious troll a few years back, I've since avoided posting any personally identifying information online.

If there's a way to contact you directly, I'd be happy to introduce myself.

If not, please just know that I'm harmless -- no games or mendacity of any sort EVER -- just a stranger who happened upon your Mae blog (and then the others linked to it) and whose comments are motivated only by a desire to express support and appreciation for your evocative writing on topics I find fascinating.

Mae West NYC said...

1. Yes, there is film footage of Mae before she became a movie star. You will not find it on YouTube because it is copyrighted. Mae is seen with Texas Guinan in her speakeasy (not sure which club because Tex had several), therefore, it is probably before 1930. Perhaps a copy is in Los Angeles, Calif with AMPAS [part of the Mae West archives]. Contact AMPAS, if you are interested.

2. In the interview with Dick Cavett posted on YouTube, Dick asks Mae if she kept a diary and she says yes. It probably was a set-up for her line about "keeping a diary and someday it may keep her." People who knew Mae raided the ranch as soon as Beverly died in 1982. Had a diary been found, this would have come to light by now.

3. The intensity of the posts on the blog for Jefferson Market did create a stir. Some posts were read by more than 650,000 individuals. That blog generated over 12,000 complaint letters to the NYPL. Funding for the "teen lounge" was re-directed to improving access for the disabled. A certain woman at the NYPL was made to resign. I am glad that some people are Googling and reading a recent article that said the Jefferson Marker facade had, at long last, been restored.

The PEN is mightier than the SWORD.