Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mae West: Noel in December

Only one of MAE WEST's motion pictures received an Academy Award nod. Alas, a wink is not a win. The Brooklyn bombshell's big box-office for "She Done Him Wrong" left no impression on the gold-plated statuette's baby-sitters. And so, anticipating the season of Oscar, New York Times writer Dave Kehr offers his analysis about the tug-of-war between wowing the audience versus winning the laurels.
• • According to Dave Kehr: One of the enduring traditions of the Academy Awards is that the Oscar for best picture almost invariably goes to a film that isn’t. This will not be news to anyone who has sat through some genuine groaners from Oscars past: pictures like Frank Lloyd’s 1933 “Cavalcade,” Robert Z. Leonard’s 1936 “Great Ziegfeld” and Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 “Greatest Show on Earth.”
• • By selecting “Cavalcade” — — a numbing historical pageant, derived from a Noël Coward play, about a wealthy couple (Diana Wynyard and Clive Brook) stiff-upper-lipping their way through 40 years of English history with a cast list that is nearly as long as Burke's Peerage (smile) — — the members of the academy distanced themselves from the racy entertainments that then dominated the box office. Cough, cough.
• • Noel Coward [16 December 1899 — 26 March 1973] • •
• • Noel Coward was born in a London suburb on Saturday, 16 December 1899.  The British actor and playwright was known for his wit, flamboyance, and stage partnership with Gertrude Lawrence.
• • Photo: Noel Coward visited the set of "I'm No Angel" and posed with Mae West and Cary Grant in 1933.
• • Thelma Todd [29 July 1906 — 16 December 1935] • •
• • Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, pretty Thelma Todd became an actress during the silent era.  The five-foot four blonde appeared in over 100 motion pictures between 1926 — 1935. She traded on her screen stardom to open "Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe," a trendy nightclub and eatery that catered to show business types.
• • She died of carbon monoxide poisoning under mysterious circumstances in Pacific Palisades, California on Monday, 16 December 1935. She was only 29. 
• • Mae West, Thelma Todd, Alice Faye, Lana Turner, et al are discussed in "Hollywood Blondes: Golden Girls of The Silver Screen" [2007] written by Michelle Vogel and Liz Nocera.
• • On Thursday, 16 December 1937 • •
• • It was on Thursday, 16 December 1937 that Variety ran an article about Mae West's controversial appearance on NBC in the Garden of Eden Skit: "Educator calls radio program a home menace."
• • On Thursday, 16 December 1937 • •
• • An article "Religious Leader Warns US Board on 'Risque' Radio Plays" was printed in The Los Angeles Herald on Thursday, 16 December 1937.  A never ending Niagara of condemnation from the religious righteous — — that is, the same groups that either condoned or covered up priest pedophilia for decades. Sheesh.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "In my long colorful career, one thing stands out. I have been misunderstood."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article on a new book mentioned Mae West.
• • Wayne Koestenbaum wrote: Rudolph Valentino, according to his first-rate biographer, Emily Leider, who has already distinguished herself by writing the definitive book on Mae West, had a ‘slightly cauliflowered’ left ear. Most photographs hide this ear, as did his protective cinematographers, so I must struggle to imagine it. ...
• • Source: "Call it Hollywood" written by Wayne Koestenbaum for London Review of Books; published on Thursday, 16 December 2004
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2517th 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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• • Mae West 1933
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