Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mae West: Eddie Butler

MAE WEST was delightful in "My Little Chickadee" [1940], a motion picture that gave many character actors a chance for a credit and a payday.
• • Eddie Butler, who played a henchman, was born in Mae's hometown, New York City, on 5 July 1888.  He was seen in only one other film "Bullets or Ballots" (as Garber) in 1936. The 52-year-old added his presence to Chickadee's Old West setting of poker players, saloons, sheriffs, mean hombres, and blazing guns.
• • Just as he was getting to know the casting directors, Eddie Butler died in Hollywood on 31 May 1944.  He was 55.
• • Charles Pierce [14 July 1926 — 31 May 1999] • •
• • Charles Pierce was a popular impressionist who often did Mae West. Perhaps to cover up his own inadequacies with a script, he would often draw attention to Mae's false teeth in his act or don a foolish hat with a silly feather dangling from it, which he'd blow out of his way as if to say, "See what I have to put up with when they dress me as Mae!"
• • Born in Watertown, New York, Charles Pierce was known for many eerily convincing imitations of popular motion pictures actresses. Eschewing the term drag queen, which he found incorrect and demeaning, he billed himself as a male actress.
• • Breaking in by doing small gay clubs in New York City, Pierce watched his fame spread. When he relocated to San Francisco, California, his act became well-known to Hollywood stars. His imitations were even mimicked by other female impersonators. Along with his Mae West impression, his roles included Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson, Carol Channing, Katharine Hepburn, and Joan Crawford — — which became the drag queen canon.
• • Charles Pierce died in North Hollywood, California on the last Monday in May in 1999.  He was 72.
• • On Monday, 31 May 1999 • •
• • There was a 30-minute episode "Mae West" on TV's E! Mysteries & Scandals: Season 2, Episode 14. It aired on Monday, 31 May 1999.
• • On Tuesday, 31 May 2011 • •
• • On the BBC's "The World Accordion to Phil," Scots accordionist Phil Cunningham featured the vaudeville accordionist who secretly married Mae West. This TV episode was first broadcast on Tuesday, 31 May 2011, in the UK. You can watch it online.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "It takes two to get one in trouble."  
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article by a theatre critic in California discussed Mae West.
• • Jeff Smith wrote: Mae West became such a fixture in pop culture the military named the first vest-sized life preserver after her. The yellow B-3, used throughout World War II, got its name because when someone inflated it, they grew as endowed as the platinum star of stage and screen.
• • Jeff Smith wrote: West danced to a different drummer all her life with all her heart. After the First World War, when thin became in, flappers called for straight lines as skinny as the cigarettes women now smoked in public. West, who bucked tradition and trends (and who claimed to have been Catherine the Great in a previous life), did a 180. She bulked up and put her unrepressed sexuality centerstage, decked in diamonds and laced with one-liners that, like Oscar Wilde's, summed up an entire way of life.
• • Jeff Smith wrote: "It's good girls who keep diaries," she said. "Bad girls never have the time." . . .
• • Source: Review: "Theatre" written by Jeff Smith for San Diego Reader; published on 27 May 2012 
By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2317th 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 • Flower Belle Lee • •
• •
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Mae West.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mae West: Today in Austin

MAE WEST made the front page in Australia on Tuesday, 30 May 1950. This tantalizing tidbit was featured in The Argus and elsewhere.
• • Las Vegas, Monday: Mae West will open soon a gambling restaurant — casino in Las Vegas. Her lawyer Charles Catt, announced today that Mae West would be a featured attraction in the casino's floor shows.
• • The "Mae West Revue" was not assembled until a few years later, however, it's clear Mae was mulling over her prospects.  Aware that there were opportunities for live entertainment in Nevada's big rooms, the performer was putting out feelers in 1950.
• • On Wednesday, 30 May 2012 in Texas • •
• • "Myra Breckinridge" starring Mae West will be screened at The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz today.  The event is hosted by their local drag diva Rebecca Havemeyer, whose birthday it is.  Havemeyer disclosed that tonight is the last of Celluloid Handbag (locals must know what that is) and also reported, "Two years ago we screened this movie and the walls nearly went up in flames of joy and amazement.  You will regret missin' this one. Trust."
• • WHERE: Alamo Drafthouse Ritz: 320 E 6th Street, Austin, TX 78701
• • WHEN: at 7:00 pm this evening on May 30th.    
• • Dave Apollon [23 February 1897 — 30 May 2003] • •
• • Born in Kiev, Russia on 23 February 1897, Dave's foreign accent and sentence structure were so striking that Mae West knew how to increase his comic capital when they worked together during 1922 in the ill-fated “Ginger Box Revue” (slated to open at the Greenwich Village Theatre in Sheridan Square).
• • In “Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It,” Mae described her first encounter with Dave during the "Ginger Box" debacle.
• • Mae West wrote, “At a rehearsal of this show I first met Dave Apollon. He had just arrived in this country, after some hardships, and was in the show. He was a fine mandolin player and Russian dancer. I first saw him dressed in a very tight-fitting green tweed suit that looked as if it had been made for a smaller brother, high button shoes, and a high Hoover collar. He was short but slender, with a round elf’s face, and a turned-up nose over a mocking mouth. He had a sour-cream heavy Russian accent, and a very amusing way of expressing himself in a fractured English almost like double-talk. Dave was very funny, I thought, but in the show he just played the mandolin and did a short dance. I couldn't help being amused by him and I would have him come to me so that I could ask him questions just to hear him mangle the language. I would try not to laugh out loud, just inwardly, and somehow everything became funnier that way. When Dave Apollon would start talking it would break me up inside. He’d ask, ‘Whut suz funnik I'm saying please to tell me?’”
• • Dave Apollon died in Las Vegas during the month of May — — on 30 May 1972.  He was 75.
• • On Wednesday, 30 May 2007 • •
• • Christie's held this auction of a Mae West movie collectible in New York City, Rockefeller Plaza on Wednesday, 30 May 2007.
• • A costume design for Mae West, circa 1970s, by Edith Head possibly for "Sextette" [1978]. The sketch of this elegant pink gown is pictured in the auction booklet. A collector paid $900 to possess it.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "A man has more character in his face at 40 than at 20 — — he has suffered longer."  
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article by a movie maven discussed Mae West.
• • Molly Haskell wrote: Mae West, the blond, diamond-studded, wisecracking, sashaying vamp from Brooklyn who lit up the stage in the 1920's and the screen in the 30's with a special brand of gender-bending sexuality, still defies categories and refuses to be conscripted into any one ideological army. The salty double-entendres, delivered with the drawling voice and rolling hips, have been recycled by a thousand female impersonators, but she was already there. As early as 1934 she was being called (by a writer in Vanity Fair) "the greatest female impersonator of all time."  . . .
• • Source: Article: "Mae West's Bawdy Spirit Spans the Gay 90's" written by Molly Haskell for The N.Y. Times; published on 15 August 1993 
By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2316th 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 • 1978 • •
• •
Feed — —
Mae West.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mae West: Lita Chevret

In "My Little Chickadee" MAE WEST worked with Lita Chevret, who played an Indian squaw.  The black-haired beauty had a promising start in the entertainment business.
• • Lita Chevret [27 May 1908 — 23 May 2001] • •
• • Born in Oakland, California in the month of May — — on 27 May 1908 — — to parents who both worked in the film trade, little Lita took singing and dancing lessons.  She gained acting experience in a theatre company, then became a professional dancer.  Though the 21-year-old was cast in five films in 1929, she was seen only briefly as a show girl in three of these, a beach girl, and "Girl on a Rum Boat."  This became a distressing pattern even when her fellow castmates were going up the ladder. For instance, in "Words and Music" she was seen as a showgirl opposite John Wayne, billed as Duke Morrison, who was making his screen debut and quickly became a star.
• • Since these titles did well, Radio Pictures (later RKO) gave her a three-year contract. At the time, Film Weekly Magazine wrote: "Lita Chevret can dance, dance, dance, but is equally at home in a melodrama or romantic comedy. Watch her shine."
• • The five-foot-seven lovely was seen in 60 motion pictures between 1929 — 1940, in fleeting moments, as a dancing teacher, countess, actress, party guest, roulette player, and most often as a showgirl.  Occasionally, she snagged a featured role such as Tanya Serova in "The Fatal Hour" [1940] with Grant Withers.  It must have been frustrating to work with Laurence Olivier, George Gershwin, Randolph Scott, Fred Astaire, and date stars like George Raft, and yet never catch a break.
• • In 1936, when her RKO contract expired, she freelanced but nothing improved. Then in 1940, when she bought a home in Palm Springs, a three-hour drive to Hollywood (where only bit parts awaited her) seemed more discouraging to a woman of 28.  During the World War II, she toured with the USO and entertained the troops. But in 1944 she kicked her dreams about showbusiness to the curb.
• • Lita Chevret died in Palm Springs in May — — on 23 May 2001.  She was 92.
• • Bob Hope [29 May 1903 — 27 July 2003] • •
• • Bob Hope appeared with Mae West on TV during May on 4 May 1959 and, occasionally, their careers intersected. For instance, in March 1958 they were both in Hollywood rehearsing for the same Academy Awards presentation. Hope performed with dancer-actress Shirley MacLaine and Mae West sang with Rock Hudson. Life Magazine ran a photo spread showing Mae, Rock, Bob, and the others.
• • The ski-slope-nosed comedian was born as Leslie Townes Hope in London, England on 29 May 1903. Both stars, of course, had toured in vaudeville, were heard on radio, starred on Broadway, and also worked at Paramount Pictures (though not on the same motion pictures).
• • Bob Hope was paired with Fanny Brice  [29 October 1891 — 29 May 1951] on Broadway in the "Ziegfeld Follies" [1936].  The versatile comedienne died at the end of May.  She was 60.
• • Bob Hope was 100 years old when he died at his home in Toluca Lake, California of pneumonia at 9:28 pm on 27 July 2003.
• • On Tuesday, 29 May 1917 • •
• • "Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It" was Mae West's letter to the world. Released in hardcover more than fifty years ago by the Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey imprint Prentice Hall, this meaty memoir was reprinted as a paperback by Avon Books [December 1959].
• • Hollywood publicist Frank Liberman helped promote the bio in 1959.  Mr. Liberman, who had Parkinson's disease, died of pneumonia in September 2009 at Providence Tarzana Medical Center. He was 92.
• • A native New Yorker like Mae, he was born in The Big Apple on Tuesday, 29 May 1917 and was raised in White Plains.
• • On Wednesday, 29 May 1935 in Variety • •
• • Frank Wallace timed his wedding revelations to coincide with the release of his former spouse's latest motion picture. Bad publicity had already paved this road, thanks to Joseph Breen's tantrums over the screenplay for "Goin' to Town" — — and Mae West watchers probably cared less about Wallace's wailing than the Hollywood hatchet man's cuts. Could Breen have ruined the movie?  Thanks to Mae's large and loyal fan base, "Goin' to Town" did big box office, reported Variety on Wednesday, 29 May 1935.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "You’re never too old to become younger." 
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about an address mentioned Mae West.
• • Nikki Finke wrote: Hollywood stars once lit up the residential roster at the Los Altos Apartments at 4121 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles.
• •  Nikki Finke wrote: Today the photos of famous residents like Bette Davis, Mae West, Douglas Fairbanks, and Clara Bow still adorn the leasing office.  ...
• • Source: Article: "Hollywood Lived Here" written by Nikki Finke for L.A. Weekly; published in the issue dated for April 29th — May 5, 2005
By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2315th 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's cast-mate • 1940 • •
• •
Feed — —
Mae West.