Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mae West: Corsets Unlaced

In Britain an exhibition on corsets opens today — — and MAE WEST is thanked.
• • "Ladies in their corsets," open to the public from 13 October 2012 to 25 November 2012, introduces the infamous waist-whittler to newcomers: "This strong garment, fortified by whalebone (from the mouths of whales) or steel, inevitably enforced its own impact on the wearer.  With tight waists in fashion, what easier way to achieve this than by tightening the corset?   You may well suspect that the tightness of the corset was responsible for even more sighing and fainting for its wearers."
• • The Chelmsford Museum staff explains: "We can see in the 1890s how fashion was obliging women to squeeze their hips as well as their waists.  In a reaction, Paris fashion rejected the corset altogether during the Great War.  The more gentle elastic girdle replaced the corset in the 1920s.  Fashion was demanding women be beanstalks, with hips, waist and even the bust tightly restricted.  Luckily Hollywood and, in particular, Mae West came to the rescue."
• • When you contact the nice folks in Chelmsford, England about their exciting new exhibit "Ladies in their corsets," tell them you heard about it on The Mae West Blog.
• • Gertrude Howard [13 October 1892 — 30 September 1934] • •
• • In order to keep more black actresses working, Mae West added several seasoned performers who would play Tira's maids in "I'm No Angel" [1933].
• • One of these charmers was Gertrude Howard, who was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the month of October — — on Thursday, 13 October 1892.
• • In her role as Beulah Thorndyke, Gertrude Howard would be forever linked to the oft-quoted line: "Beulah, peel me a grape!"
• • The five-foot-four character actress began working in the motion picture industry in 1925. Two years later, the 35-year-old would be featured as Uncle Tom's wife Chloe in the screen version of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" [1927].
• • Mae was quite saddened by Gertrude Howard's untimely death in Los Angeles on 30 September 1934 — — and she was actively involved in making preparations for this Hollywood funeral.
• • On Saturday, 13 October 1928 • •
• • On 13 October 1928, an item appeared in Billboard Magazine (on page 42) discussing how the NYC police had padlocked Mae's second homosexual play "Pleasure Man."  Billboard used the occasion of Mae's latest legal trouble to condemn her play, describing the script that focused on men in love as "an abomination."
• • Billboard wrote: "Pleasure Man" is prostitution of the rankest sort,  a flagrant attempt to capitalize filth and degeneracy and cash in on the resultant cheap publicity.
• • On Thursday, 13 October 1932 • •
• • During mid-October in 1932, Mae's jewel robbery was on the front page.  One headline "Diamond Lil Robbed of Jewels" ran in the Omaha-Bee News on Thursday, 13 October 1932.  This terrifying crime occurred just months after Mae had relocated to Los Angeles, California to be in the speakeasy film "Night After Night" with George Raft.
• • On Friday, 13 October 1933 • •
• • Mordaunt Hall critiqued the motion picture "I'm No Angel" starring Mae West on Friday, 13 October 1933 for The New York Times. Hall gave this screen comedy a rave review.
• • On Sunday, 13 October 1968 • •
• • On Sunday, 13 October 1968, The N.Y. Times printed a dispatch from journalist Mark Shivas with this headline: "Fellini's Back, and Mae West's Got Him!"
• • Federico Fellini [20 January 1920 — 31 October 1993] had met Mae West in 1963 and had been wooing her from then, cooking her pots of pasta and coaxing her to appear in one of his projects. "Mae West is the mother of the empress," announced Fellini. "An erotic witch. She knows everything about the ancient ritual of bedrooms. I met her five years ago and she looked more like 45 than 75. Molto Simpatico. Intelligent. Full of humor. . . ."
• • But Mae West was more interested in protecting her brand than chasing after Fellini's carrot. When asked by reporters to confirm her role in this film, Mae replied: "I will not sign until I see the script" and her measured response ran in papers on 17 October 1968.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Marilyn Monroe was a synthetic star.  A copy of me. I never met her, but I OK'd her for my life story."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An item in Australia mentioned missing Mae West.
• • A Merge member wrote: Mae West had screen presence like no one else. Always the aggresive sexual force in her films, rather than the man, she's the woman who first said, 'Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?' I don't know where I'm going with this. It's just that everytime I see an Oscar winning actress selling mascara or anti-wrinkle cream I miss Mae West a little bit more.  ...
• • Source: Opinion: Merge in Australia; posted on Tuesday, 13 October 2009
By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2456th 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 • 1933
• •
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