Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mae West: Thelma Salter

MAE WEST saved the letter sent on 2 March 1947 by Thelma Salter, who had seen a performance by the legendary stage star the previous year — — "Come On Up," perhaps. Salter explained, "I have written a short play and by the time it was performed could be made into a longer play — — which I am sending to you." After mentioning she would like to do something for her son, who was in the Marines for 3 years, she added, "Now Miss West, don't think me begging. I'm only telling what I would like and if we don't tell the things on our minds, no one will know, isn't that correct." 
• • Thelma Salter [15 January 1908 — 17 November 1953] • •
• • Born in Los Angeles on 15 January 1908, Thelma Salter was put to work in front of the camera at 5 years old. From 1913 — 1920, the cute little blonde was in 42 silent films including Paramount's well-regarded "Huckleberry Finn" [1920], in which she played Becky Thatcher.  In the course of performing in silent Westerns and shorter features made by Keystone, Triangle-Fine Arts, and New York Motion Picture Co., Thelma Salter occasionally played a male role including the "boy hero" in "How Villains Are Made" [1914].
• • After a hiatus, she returned to the screen in 1926 and made 13 more shorts. Her photo was printed in Motion Picture Classic's February 1927 issue when they did a lavish spread, Famous Extras. She was 21 when "The Nightwatchman's Mistake" [1929] became her last screen credit. She wed writer-producer Edward Kaufman [1893 — 1955] and they raised a son. Kaufman's best known screenplay was "The Gay Divorcee" [1934].
• • Thelma Salter took up short story writing and told Mae West she was about to have her first work of fiction published, "Light Keeps Flickering." Her own light went out rather early. She died in Hollywood, California on Tuesday, 17 November 1953. She was 45. When Variety published her obit on 25 November 1953, the title was "Mrs. Thelma Kaufman." The late silent film player was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale with her husband, who died two years later in 1955.
• • PHOTO: Thelma Salter as she looked in 1915 opposite William S. Hart.
• • Ruth Donnelly [17 May 1896 — 17 November 1982] • •
• • How many remember character actress Ruth Donnelly as Aunt Lou in "My Little Chickadee" [1940], starring Mae West and directed by Edward F. Cline?
• • Born in Trenton, New Jersey on 17 May 1896, Ruth Donnelly began her stage career at the age of 17. In 1914, her Broadway debut brought her to the attention of George M. Cohan — — who proceeded to cast her in numerous comic-relief roles. Though she made her first film appearance that same year, her Hollywood career began in earnest in 1931 and lasted until 1957.
• • Ruth Donnelly died in New York City during the month of November — — on Wednesday, 17 November 1982. She was 86.
• • On Friday, 17 November 1916 • •
• • On Friday, 17 November 1916, Mae West announced in the trade papers (such as Variety) that she had new plans.
• • "Mae West's New Name and Act" • •
• • An act written by Blanche Merrill will return Mae West to vaudeville under another name and as a male impersonator.
• • On Tuesday, 17 November 1936 • •
• • An article on favorite dishes of movie stars in the 1930s mentioned Mae West. The Sydney Morning Herald commented: Mae West always has a salad, which has been named after her.  Sydney Morning Herald added: The chefs of the Brown Derbies have supplied the following recipes for the dishes favoured by well-known film people ...
• • Source: Article: "Some Favourite Dishes of the Stars — — Spaghetti Astaire and Mae West Salad" written by the editors of The Sydney Morning Herald [Australia], page 8; published on Tuesday, 17 November 1936.
• • On Saturday, 17 November 2001 • •
• • On the program "Writer's Almanac" on Saturday, 17 November 2001, a poem by Charles Bukowski was read, "sit and endure" (sic), and his rambling free verse begins like this: "well, first Mae West died/ and then George Raft,/ and Eddie G. Robinson's/ been gone/ a long time, ..."
• • It's nice that he mentioned Mae in his first line but it is astonishing that his work was published in book form by Black Sparrow Press.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Are you versatile?"
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about "The Ox-Bow Incident'' mentioned Mae West.
• • Larry Williams wrote: The commentary track on the DVD reissue of "The Ox-Bow Incident'' [1943] features William Wellman Jr., son of the director, with some interesting particulars: The first owner of the screen rights for the acclaimed 1940 novel planned to make a big Technicolor extravaganza that would include Mae West as owner of the bar where the story begins. Wellman declined to direct it. A couple of years later, he was able to buy the rights himself. He wanted to make the small, dark morality tale that ended up on the screen, and only Darryl F. Zanuck, studio head at Fox, would agree to do it, while perceptively predicting that "the picture would never make a dime.'' Sure enough, it never made a dime, despite praise from critics and an Oscar nomination for best picture. ...
• • Source: Article: "Movies Worth Searching For" written by Larry Williams for Hartford Courant; published on Thursday, 6 November 2003
By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2488th 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:

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