Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mae West: Blackie

It was Thursday, 15 January 1948 and MAE WEST was in London appearing in "Diamond Lil."  Her habit was to visit the zoo wherever she would be performing and on this date she was photographed, surrounded by clowns, as she showed her appreciation to Blackie, the baby elephant of the Harringay Circus.
• • Photo courtesy of Hugh, HarringayOnline.com.
• • William Beckley • •
• • Before she began scripting her own material, Mae West was invariably cast as an Irish maid in Broadway shows and revues.
• • Always one to make sure that as many extras were working as possible, Mae would boost the cast number for any project she was able to. If a leading lady typically had one maid in a scene, Mae would try to get more actresses on the payroll.
• • Certain actors, too, were often typecast as servants, valets, or hotel staff. For instance, William Francis Beckley, who played the desk clerk in "Sextette," is best known for his ongoing role as Gerard the butler in "Dynasty," the TV series.
• • Beckley has 49 credits. From 1962 — 1991, he was cast in eight feature films and he participated in 41 TV projects. He was last seen by his fans in the TV movie "Dynasty: The Reunion" [1991] as Gerard the Maitre D'.
• • William Beckley was born in London, England in mid-January — — on Wednesday, 15 January 1930. We wish him a very happy birthday today. He is 83.
• • On Wednesday 15 January 1936 • •
• • It was Wednesday, 15 January 1936 and Mae West was feeling an evil breeze menacing the tender tips of her feathered boa.
• • Her ally Emanuel Cohen [1892 — 1977] had packed up his bags at Paramount, which started to feel as cozy and congenial as the North Pole under the new studio boss Ernst Lubitsch [1892 — 1947].
• • Before long Variety Magazine was reporting doom and gloom on Hollywood and Vine. According to Variety — — in their issue dated for 15 January 1936 — — Mae West had been warned that she must strictly follow orders and that Paramount's production chief would not tolerate any challenges or deviations. Several directors found letters to that effect in their mailboxes as well. Uh-oh.
• • On Saturday, 15 January 1938 in the N.Y. Times • •
• • Anyone passing a newsboy in New York City on Saturday morning on 15 January 1938 could see this page one headline on a New York Times: "Mae West Script Brings Sharp Rebuke from FCC." Of course, it was Arch Obler who penned the skit for NBC. Mae West only read it for the radio with her sultry overtones and was instantly demonized by the Roman Catholic organizations. The censors pressed in on her, tighter and more uncomfortable than her corset stays.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Don't you worry. Not only would I look a fool in pants, what with my figure and all, but it also wouldn't help my career."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The El Paso Herald Post printed an article on Mae West.
• • Hollywood Correspondent Dick Kleiner interviewed Mae West in 1968. Here's a paragraph from that lengthy piece than ran on page 27.
• • Dick wrote: "But I did see that girl who played Lolita, whats-her-name (Sue Lyons) once," she says. "And I think she has something. I'm thinking about her for my next picture. For the male lead I like Christopher Plummer. He's got it. I had been toying with the idea of Richard Burton but he is better with Elizabeth Taylor. Obviously, there's no room for both Mae West and Elizabeth Taylor in the same movie." ...
• • Source: Interview: "Mae West to Star in TV Special" written by Dick Kleiner, Hollywood Correspondent, in syndication; published by El Paso Herald Post on 20 July 1968 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2547th 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 • 1948
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  Mae West.


  1. Hello -- I'm a creative hyphenate and 1920s enthusiast who has long admired your blogs. I thought you might be interested in my new project, a daily comic strip called "Love Marches On." The strip is partially set in 1925, and Texas Guinan is one of the supporting characters. Yesterday's strip, #14, is the first to feature Texas, and she figures prominently in what's to come. Thanks for all you've done to keep these legends alive!

  2. "Hello, Suckers!" -- that sounds like Texas Guinan all right.

    When the "COURTING MAE WEST" comic book was being launched, I sent one to a gentleman whose last name is Guinan. Though no relation to the speakeasy hostess, he had drawn a comic book bio for her. Very engaging. Hope you have visited TexasGuinan.blogspot.com, too, because this is her birth month.

    Don't take any guff from the Butter and Egg Man, kiddo!!!
    And please consider "following" this blog, will ya? Mae West thrives on good-looking fellas.