Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mae West: Jan Duggan

MAE WEST starred in "My Little Chickadee" [1940] and W.C. Fields brought Jan Duggan on board to play an uppity Little Bend woman who disapproved of Flower Belle Lee.
• • Jan Duggan [6 November 1881 — 10 March 1977] • •
• • Born in St. Louis, Missouri in November, Genevieve L. Duggan took the stage name Jan Duggan. In July 1933, she was cast as the Bowery Nightingale in a Los Angeles revival of "The Drunkard" at the Theatre Mart. By then the play was 90 years old, having first enjoyed success before a New York City audience when it was produced by P.T. Barnum under the title "The Drunkard or The Fallen Saved." One of the West Coast ticket-buyers who returned to see it repeatedly (nearly three dozen times, actually) was W.C. Fields [1880 — 1946], who hired certain cast members to reprise their roles in his cinematic remake "The Old-Fashioned Way" [1934].  
• • In 1934 Jan Duggan made her screen debut playing the widow Cleopatra Pepperday opposite Fields, who gave her supporting roles in some of his comedies. One year younger than Fields, the five-foot-eight actress had honed her comic chops on the stage and quickly became one of his regulars.
• • Unfortunately, age mitigated against her. From 1934 — 1943, she was used only in 36 feature films.  Perhaps, newly burnished by her Tinseltown sheen, she returned to the stage.
• • Jan Duggan died in Anaheim, California on 10 March 1977. She was 95.

• • Milton Drake [3 August 1916 — 13 November 2006] • •
• • Mae West sung "Willie of the Valley" in "My Little Chickadee" [1940]. Though the songwriter was uncredited, he was Milton Drake.
• • Born in New York City as Milton Druckman on 3 August 1916, Milton Drake was one of four children in a family that had emigrated from Romania (the Transylvania region).
• • During the 1930s, Milton lived in Hollywood and wrote songs for motion pictures. In 1940, he wrote "Willie of the Valley" with Ben Oakland [1907 — 1979] for the film "My Little Chickadee" and this had the distinction of being the only number in the movie and it was sung by Mae West herself.
• • Milton Drake passed away in Palm Beach, Florida on Monday, 13 November 2006. He was 90.
• • On Monday, 13 November 1933 • •
• • "I'm No Angel" starring Mae West and featuring Cary Grant was at the Strand Theatre in Ithaca, NY.  An article on this new release appeared in the section "The Screen." It was published in The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume 54, Number 43, on Monday, 13 November 1933.
• • On Friday, 13 November 1936 • •
• • "Mae West will go to Egypt to make a harem picture if she accepts the offer of a fez-wearing movie director from Cairo, who has been interviewing her for the past week," wrote a publicist from Paramount Pictures. It was sent out on Friday the 13th (13 November 1936).
• • On Thursday, 13 November 1975 • •
• • The book "Films of Mae West" written by Jon Tuska was published  by Citadel Press in the USA on Thursday, 13 November 1975. An excellent title to own.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "Yes, it's kind of a nice thought to be flying all over with brave men, even if I'm only there by proxy in the form of a life-saving jacket, or a life-saving jacket in my form. I always thought that the best way to hold a man was in your arms — — but I guess when you're in the air a plane is safer."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article published in November 1954 interviewed Mae West.
• • The NY correspondent wrote: Mae gets away with it in the most extraordinary manner. At an age when most women are knitting socks for grandchildren, she is still capering about, parodying sex, making deliberate fun of it in a vulgar, "kidding" way that still brings in the men to make up the substantial other part of her audience.  And it is more than thirty years since she started getting away with it on the national stage. ...
• • Source: Article: "At 62, Mae West Now Brings Women Flocking To Learn From The Girl With IT" for The Sun-Herald (Sydney, NSW); published on Sunday, 7 November 1954 

By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2484th 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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