Friday, December 28, 2012

Mae West: Jack Cheatham

MAE WEST starred in her show "Diamond Lil" — — and both the original Broadway cast in 1928 and the first West Coast touring company included actor Jack Cheatham.
• • Reviewing the Bowery melodrama of the 1890s for The New York Sun, man-on-the-aisle Richard Lockridge offered a lengthy commentary to his theatre-going readers. 
• • Critic Richard Lockridge wrote: The big seduction scene, acted with some of the finest trembling the dramatic art has yet produced, reduced an altogether friendly audience to quaking chuckles. And, since the scene is set in what everybody likes to try to think of as the Bowery thirty years ago, the extreme of undress shows Miss West in an amply protective and very, funny corset. The corset was one of the high comedy points. Another was the quite excruciating stampede of everyone to the street on the report that a horse-less carriage was passing.  ... Miss West is vibrant and enlivening through it all, ...
• • Source: Review: "The Return of a Native in 'Diamond Lil'" written by Richard Lockridge for The New York Sun (page 22); published on Tuesday, 10 April 1928.
• • Jack Cheatham [28 December 1894 — 30 March 1971] • •
• • Born in Jackson, Mississippi on Friday, 28 December 1894 was a baby boy called John Preston Cheatham. He must have had some stage training before Mae West, in 1928, cast the 34-year-old as Spider Kane, a bouncer in Gus Jordan's saloon. After Mae's Broadway blitz ended, Jack Cheatham was attached to the comedy-mystery "Straight Thru the Door" written by William Hodge, which had a brief production at the 49th Street Theatre [October — November 1928]. After Hodge's play closed ended, Jack Cheatham was available to rejoin Mae West and the cast for their West Coast engagement in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
• • No doubt his credits in the legit, and his California exposure, led to his new career as a screen actor, which began with the motion picture "Arizona" [1931], where he was seen as an Army football coach. Despite a handful of supporting roles that held out hope, casting agents seem to have decided the newcomer was no more than a bit parts player. His serious look and substantial build opened the door to enforcer roles that required the presence of a gent who wore a uniform well. Jack Cheatham often portrayed a constable, cop, police dispatcher, police guard,  Homicide Squad Member, and Police Officer Kennedy. He also got to play a rum runner, racing official, telegrapher, and reporter onscreen.
• • From 1931 — 1949, he was in 181 feature films. Armed with his Broadway resume and stage training, Jack Cheatham perhaps expected he'd do better in Tinseltown. Yet he would gradually discover his destiny was one brief and uncredited tidbit after another. A limited Hollywood horizon.
• • He died of heart failure in La Mirada, California on 30 March 1971. He was 76.
• • On Sunday, 28 December 1919 on Broadway • •
• • It was Sunday, 28 December 1919 and Mae West was very busy in Manhattan — — double-booked, in fact.
• • The 26-year-old "firefly of vaudeville" was appearing that night at the Lyric Theatre [on 42nd Street, west of Broadway]. Sharing the Lyric bill with her were these entertainers: Eugene and Willie, the Howard Brothers; Carl McCullough; the 4 Haley Sisters; and "8 other favorite acts."
• • On the same night, Mae West performed at the 44th Street Theatre [near Broadway]. On the program was the top-billed act — — Sophie Tucker and Her Kings of Syncopation — — along with Ames and Winthrop, Mae West, Riggs and Witchie, and "8 other favorite acts."
• • On Sunday, 28 December 1969 • •
• • John Kobal wrote an article "Mae Queen" about movie star Mae West. The piece was published in Britain in the Sunday Times Magazine [UK] on Sunday, 28 December 1969.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I am a showman. I know that the public wants sex in their entertainment and I give it to them." 
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about New Year's Eve in 1934 mentioned Mae West.
• • It was on Friday, 28 December 1934 that the good folks in The Yellowhammer State were anticipating another visit from Mae West.
• • The announcement in the local paper The Star read: The glamorous Mae West returns to the Ritz Theater screen Monday night [31 December 1934] as the star of the featured attraction being shown at the New Year's Eva gala which begins at 11:30 pm. Hats, horns, serpentine, and balloons will add to the enjoyment of the party. ...
• • Source: The Star used to be published in Anniston, Alabama — — the heart of Dixie.
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2529th 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 • 1928
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  Mae West.

1 comment:

  1. I'd be very much interested in more information you have on Jack Cheatham. He is my great uncle, who raised my grandmother, who in turn raised me.

    I have a suitcase full of autographed head shots from many stars he worked with, passed down by him written out to him and his wife Elaine, and have always been enthralled to look through it. His career has fascinated me.

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