Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mae West: Commonlaw Wife

It's likely that MAE WEST wasted no time mooning over her quick trip down the aisle with Frank Wallace in April 1911.  But an old saying comes to mind: Act in haste, repent in leisure.
• • In 1928 or so, Frank Wallace (real name Frank Szatkus) hooked up with Marie Carey, whose stage name was Trixie LaMae.  "At the time of his marriage to Mae West, Wallace said, they were stage partners and were playing at the Gayety Theater in Milwaukee," The Gleaner reported in August 1935.  Wallace had referred to this elopement as a "kid marriage."
• • When Frank Wallace died on 15 October 1966, Mae was asked to comment. "He'll always remain in the wastebasket of my memories," she joked.
• • But back in August 1940, Wallace was still rustling up as much legal dust as possible.  "Mae West's 'Forgotten' Husband Begins Suit" (From Our Own Correspondent) was the page 3 story in Australia on 12 August 1940. Let's revisit the ink-stained battlefield.
• • Hollywood, Sunday — Frank Wallace, sometimes called Mae West's forgotten husband, has began a suit of 105,000 dollars (£35 000) against James Timony, the film star's manager, alleging that he has induced Miss West to live with him as his common-law wife although she is legally wed to him (Wallace).
• • Wallace further seeks an injunction to prevent James Timony from carrying out alleged threats to "run him out of the show business" unless he joins Miss West in denying the existence of their marriage, records of which were discovered in Milwaukee in 1939.
• • Source: Article: "Mae West's 'Forgotten' Husband Begins Suit" printed in The Argus (on page 3) on Monday, 12 August 1940.
• • Albert Chalky Wright [10 February 1912 — 12 August 1957] • •
• • Born on 10 February 1912 in either Mexico or Arizona, Albert "Chalky" Wright turned pro in the ring two weeks after his 16th birthday, scoring a four-round win over Nilo Balles. He spent the early part of his boxing career in Southern California. Standing about five-foot-six, Wright fought best at 126 pounds.
• • In 1955, sleazy Confidential Magazine tried to blackmail Mae West over her romance with a black male, ex-prizefighter Chalky Wright.
• • On Monday, 12 August 1957, just before he was to testify in this lawsuit about extortion, Albert "Chalky" Wright died suddenly in Los Angeles in the bathtub of his mother's house. Mae West insisted that her dear friend had been murdered.  He was 45.
• • On Saturday, 12 August 1944 • •
• • According to an article in Billboard Magazine [The Billboard, Saturday, 12 August 1944], Mike Todd and Mae West shared the financial burden of mounting this costume drama — — $150,000, not an inconsiderable sum during the World War II era. And though she often hired inexperienced actors and actresses for the minor roles, Mae West sought out the best costume people and set designers. Despite the savage reviews that would greet the star's own efforts, the critics heaped praise on the production itself, calling the scenery "as beautiful as Howard Bay's best" and rhapsodizing over lavish details such as the fireplace set in Count Mirovich's apartment and the decor of the ghoulish "secret room" of Ivan VI where a murder occurs.
• • On Saturday, 12 August 1961 • •
• • "Come On Up" was having a revival in 1961. The copyrighted version bears the credit line "based on a story idea by Charlotte Francis" but Mae had tinkered with the text and brought in a handsome old friend Jack LaRue to play the heroine's former gangster husband. "A Wagnerian heroine," the Chicago Daily News called her in their review on 12 August 1961, "emerging out of a mountain of marshmallow."
• • After touring the Midwest, "Come On Up" was staged in the month of August in Miami's Cocoanut Grove Playhouse (air-conditioned, we hope).  "The entrance alone called forth sustained applause for at least two minutes," wrote an astonished critic for the Miami News on 12 August 1961.  Mae spared no expense for her costumes: a trio of negligees, gowns, an ermine wrap, and a kingdom's worth of diamonds. Ah, ice.  For a cool queen of arts.
• • Save the Date: Thursday, August 16th • •
• • Thursday, 16 August 2012 will be the next Mae West Tribute in Manhattan and the evening affair will start at 6:30 pm at 155 Mulberry Street.  This year Mae-mavens will enjoy an indoor event (ahhh, air conditioning), music written by Mae West's Italian husband will be played, and attendees will be seated.
• • At the Reception, Italian wine and light refreshments will be served. The ever-popular Mae West Raffle will offer rare prizes once again to a number of lucky attendees. The public is invited.
• • Mae West was born in Brooklyn, NY on Thursday, 17 August 1893.
• • Closest MTA subway stations: Grand St. or Canal St.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Doncha think TV is a perfect medium for me?  After all, I've always entertained the masses — — all ages and mentality."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Vincent, an accordionist who studied for years with Pietro Deiro, recalled how quickly (in his words) "Guido would give Mae a good crack across the mouth."
• • An article on the Guido Deiro site mentioned his bad temper:
• • Despite Mae's happy recollections of Guido's tenderness, she knew only too well that he had an extremely volatile side. He was possessive and flew into jealous rages, verbally and sometimes physically assaulting other men who expressed even passing interest in Mae. He spied on her, listened in on her telephone calls, and loomed over her constantly. She told of tireless efforts to keep him ignorant of other men, even those who were simply acquaintances, fearing his reaction.  ...
• • Source: GuidoDeiro.com
By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2392nd 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 with Jim Timony • 1940s
• •
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