Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mae West: Oversexed Damsel

It is difficult to determine how much time MAE WEST devoted to perusing book reviews in Daily Princetonian. But if the publisher of Babe Gordon had sent the author this clip — — printed on page 2 in New Jersey on Saturday, 17 January 1931 — — the description of her Harlem-lovin' heroine as "oversexed" would have caused immoderate hilarity and conspicuous eye-rolling.
• • Since this Princetonian sage opines that "for erotic description La West is pretty darned good," more than one member of his armchair audience must have been attempting to extract $2 worth of coins from the nearest piggy bank. Let's read it together.
BABE GORDON. By Mae West. The Macaulay Company, New York. $2
• • Babe is an oversexed damsel . . . • •
• • The Daily Princetonian critic wrote: Mae West did just what was expected of her when it was announced that she was about to write a book. She turned out a dirty, frank, funny, crude, vulgar piece of work that can't very well be described. If it's at all autobiographical, Mae ought to be ashamed, but we don't think even she would have the nerve to own up to Babe Gordon's life. Babe is an oversexed damsel who starts out as a prizefighter's prostitute. After ruining one by marriage and, we gather, by too much "sexual allure" (La West likes that phrase), she turns to a rich negro, to the fabulous son of a 5-and-10cent-store owner, back to the prizefighter and so on, not to mention a few dollars picked up here and there. You must realize that Babe is just about the most beautiful wench in all New York; she picks her men, the men don't pick her. She can go anywhere and do anything, or almost. Well, anyway, for erotic description La West is pretty darned good; for plot she couldn't be more obvious; and for cheapness and vulgarity she is incomparable. E. R., Jr.
• • Source: Daily Princetonian (page 2), Volume 55, Number 171; book review published on Saturday, 17 January 1931.
• • On Wednesday, 17 January 1934 in The L.A. Times • •
• • Covering the trial, and Mae's testimony about the frightening jewel heist engineered by brazen Harry Voiler, The Los Angeles Times wrote this account of the proceedings:
• • Mae West swayed into court on high French heels and hitched up her hips as she made ready to climb into the witness box. A mink coat made Mae West look like any other well-dressed woman from the rear but it was the front view that wowed the crowded courtroom. It may not be done on purpose but Miss West has a trick way of carrying her hands when she walks . . . and there is no question that it went over big. She wore her coat unbuttoned and placed the backs of her hands on her body just below the hips, well to the rear."
• • On Monday, 17 January 1944 • •
• • An article about the motion picture "The Heat's On" starring Mae West was published in Hollywood Citizen-News in Monday's issue on 17 January 1944.
• • On Monday, 17 January 1949 in The N.Y. Times • •
• • Mae West was 55 years old in January 1949. Always feisty and hard-working, the actress pushed herself and, alas, various health problems caught up with her during January 1949. Portraying the insouciant Diamond Lil in a three-hour play was bound to be more difficult while ailing and touring, even for this indefatigable trouper.
• • No doubt these headlines in The New York Times added more stress to both the star and her producers when reporter Sam Zolotow's article was printed in Monday's newspaper on 17 January 1949: "Mae West Revival Drops Toronto Run; Star's Illness in Baltimore to Halt Buffalo, Syracuse Visits — — Play Due Here February 3rd."
• • Sam Zolotow wrote: A gallant attempt by Mae West to minimize her illness has not been successful. The star of "Diamond Lil," scheduled to arrive February 3 at the Coronet in the revival of her play, had appeared in Baltimore last week through Friday night [on 14 January 1949], when she was taken ill. . . .
• • Ironically, this distressing announcement appeared in the paper on page 15 in their section called "Amusements" [N.Y. Times, 17 January 1949]. Well, we know who was not amused!
• • Perhaps the difficulty of continuing to perform in a lengthy stage play, especially when she was not feeling up to par — — in order not to disappoint ticket-holders and her fans — — contributed to Mae's accident in February 1949, when she fell and broke her ankle in her midtown Manhattan hotel.
• • In Her Own Words •
• • Mae West was asked: "What do you require of a leading man?"
• • Mae West said: "Experience. Then I try to make them fall for me. It usually improves their acting."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A section from a biography mentioned January 17th and Mae West.
• • Jill Watts wrote: [in December 1929] Mae learned that her mother's condition had worsened. Prevented from returning home by the [West Coast] tour, she dispatched New York's best doctors to Tillie's bedside and sent Timony to search for the Sri. ...
• • Jill Watts continued: Mae arrived on January 17, finding her mother clinging to life. Timony's search for the Sri had failed, so she summoned more doctors. ... On Sunday, January 26 [1930] ... with her devoted daughter nearby, Tillie West, the force that had nurtured an American folk icon, passed away. ...
• • Source: Jill Watts, "Mae West: An Icon in Black and White" by Jill Watts [NY: Oxford University Press, 2001]
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2549th 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:

Source: to Google

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• • Mae West • 1931
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