Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mae West: Outstrips Raquel

"MAE WEST Outstrips Raquel In Broadway Film Premiere" was the headline on Friday, 26 June 1970.  A marvelous Mae-moment in Manhattan, featuring 10,000 fans.
• • NEW YORK, UPI — Mae West, making her first visit to New York in 20 years (sic) for the premiere of her film "Myra Breckinridge" Tuesday night caused one of the greatest mob scenes fans have staged on Broadway in the post World War II period. More than 10,000 fans, many of them in their middle teens, gathered outside the Criterion to pay homage to the septuagenarian actress in her comeback.
• • Miss West loved it all . . . • •
• • Raquel Welch, who played the title role in the movie, got a trivial welcome compared to that for Miss West. It took 60 policemen, some brandishing billy clubs, and six mounted patrolmen to keep the mob from snatching Miss West's white satin, fox-trimmed gown. Miss West loved it all, fluttering pale white hands ringed with diamond bracelets above her head.  She got a similar ovation when she left the Sherry Netherland Hotel, where she arrived this morning after what is believed to be her first plane trip (sic). The mob scene held up traffic for blocks on Broadway and intersecting streets and brought a new first night cry from the throats of hundreds. "Right on!" was what they screamed at Miss West in the language of militant youth that still finds heroines in the films of 1930s.
• • Police prevented the mob from entering the theatre lobby but it was touch and go. Even Barbra Streisand at the premiere of "Hello, Dolly" did not create as much excitement as did Miss West. At the end of the film the opening night audience gave Miss West a standing ovation as she arose in her mid-orchestra seat.
• • Several middle-aged men carrying Mae West fan club signs tried to reach her with bouquets of red roses but 20th Century Fox officials rushed her out the rear door of the theater to avoid the crowd, which had dwindled to about 5,000 on Broadway.
• • Source: Article: "Mae West Outstrips Raquel In Broadway Film Premiere" written by UPI and printed at the top of page 5 in Pacific Stars and Stripes (a newspaper for servicemen in the Far East) on Friday, 26 June 1970.
• • G. P. Huntley [26 February 1904 — 26 June 1971] • •
• • Mae West worked with several Broadway veterans in her motion picture "Go West Young Man" [1936], the cinema version of a blockbuster hit onstage.
• • Stage star G. P. Huntley was briefly seen as Philip in the "Drifting Lady" sequence. Born in Boston on 26 February 1904, Bruce Timothy Huntley was the son of two stage players G. P. Huntley (1868 — 1927) and Eva Kelly (1880 — 1948). During his long tenure on The Great White Way, the versatile performer was seen in musicals, Shakespearean tragedies, weepy melodramas, and romantic comedies such as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" [1926].
• • By 1931 the six-footer had ventured into cinematic fare and was seen in 38 motion pictures such as "Two-Faced Woman" [1941] with Garbo. His final role on the big screen was as Rugged in "Journey for Margaret" [1942] when he was 38 years old. G. P. Huntley died in Woodland Hills, California on 26 June 1971. He was 67.
• • On Tuesday, 26 June 1923 • •
• • Mae West observed many vaudeville comics and learned from them — —especially from the campy drag artist Bert Savoy [1880 — 1923], who starred in "The Greenwich Village Follies" with his partner Jay Brennan.  They recorded one of their routines: "You Don't Know the Half of It."
• • Unfortunately, on 26 June 1923 Bert Savoy was wearing a metal locker key dangling from a chain as he strolled with his buddies on a Long Island beach.  A thunderstorm sent a bolt of lightning slicing through the sky. Savoy playfully shrieked, "Ain’t Miss God cuttin’ up something awful?"  But moments later, lightning struck the metal key around his neck. At the age of 43, he was dead.
• • On Wednesday, 26 June 1935 • •
• • The 8-minute cartoon "Who Killed Cock Robin?" was released on 26 June 1935 in the USA. Loverboy Robin is crooning to a Mae West-like Jenny Wren when he is shot with an arrow.
• • Actress Martha Wentworth [2 June 1889 — 8 March 1974] was the voice of Jenny Wren.  Wentworth also did Mae's voice in "The Mae West Jewel Robbery," which made its radio debut on 21 February 1934.
• • On Thursday, 26 June 2003 • •
• • Newspapers announced this headline on Thursday, 26 June 2003: "Dolly Parton Thrilled With Mae West Role."
• • "Country icon Dolly Parton has signed up to play feisty silver screen goddess Mae West in an upcoming TV movie, and she admits it's a part she's been longing to play," reported news outlets.  Despite her enthusiasm, the project was not filmed.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "What I did was make fun of sex lightly."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about "Myra Breckinridge" (released 24 June 1970) interviewed Mae West.
• • Howard Thompson wrote:  Ask the woman a question, you get an answer. For instance, are those rocks real?
• • "You betcha," said Mae West, spreading her dainty hands. On three fingers of each glittered four huge diamond rings, two sets on double duty. The actress smiled. "The hippies — — the young people — — are wearing 'em like this now. I started it, years ago."
• • The venerable Miss West, who turns 77 in August, looked years younger on her first visit to New York in 14 years. A swirl of platinum hair cascaded to the shoulders of her pink and white pants suit, encasing a full but disciplined figure. Her complexion was a healthy, paler pink, her voice low-spoken.
• • Miss West was relaxing in her flower-filled hotel suite, following her tumultuous reception at "Myra Breckinridge" the previous evening. Facing her shortly was a large news conference at the Americana Hotel.
• • "All those young faces in that mob last night," she mused. "So friendly. They're my television fans. No, I don't know that they're being ruined by all this permissiveness, this nudity and what-have-you. Somebody's pushing it, but it's the times."
• • She chuckled. "I think it's all right, but not on the streets — — not on the sidewalk. My pictures compared to the ones now were never smutty or dirty. What I did was make fun of sex lightly."
• • It was time to depart for the Americana. Miss West, who is a small woman, rose, tried on a sweater and substituted a chiffon scarf.
• • "No, they'll want to see these," she said, indicating the rings. She took the arm of her strapping bodyguard, a quiet, courteous man named Paul Novak, and moved toward the elevator in short, careful steps. She edged forward, smiling, through a crowd of young people in front of the hotel and settled in a limousine.
• • "What these young people sense about my pictures is quality, the importance of a good plot and dialogue, and of course I wrote my own. Believe me, the play's the thing. I'm not too sure about 'Myra Breckinridge' because they didn't use enough of me or my material until the budget had been run up high."
• • "Was I shocked by any of it? Well, I'll tell you one thing — — I never would have played Myra."  ...
• • Source: Article: "Mae West, 76, Still Finding New Generations of Fans" written by Howard Thompson (page 54) for The New York Times; posted on 25 June 1970
By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2343rd 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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• • Mae West • 1970
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