Monday, March 18, 2013

Mae West: Ben Hall

MAE WEST starred in "My Little Chickadee" [1940], taking the role of Flower Belle Lee, and Ben Hall was a schoolboy in an amusing classroom scene. Hall has a birthdate in the month of March.
• • Ben Hall [18 March 1899 — 20 May 1985] • •
• • Born in Brooklyn, NY was little Benjamin Joseph Hall who added to a growing family on Saturday, 18 March 1899. At 13 years old, he was in front of a movie camera starring as a crippled boy in "For the Love of Mike" [1912], a sentimental silent era short. Excited by  new opportunities, when Ben was 21 years old, he and his mother relocated to Los Angeles. He was hired as a property man but he also began to snag some screen work. A series of a dozen silent era shorts, starring Ben Hall as an amusing character Harold Highbrow, secured a regular paycheck from 1927 — 1928 and higher visibility. Two years of promising featured roles followed.
• • Unfortunately, his Hollywood horizons did not broaden when Hall hit his 30s. All the same, certain directors enjoyed using him and he did eight films for John Ford between 1929 —1946, occasionally being offered a memorable bit. Hall's fans will remember him fondly as the barber who coifs and pomades Wyatt Earp's hair in "My Darling Clementine" [1946], directed by Ford and featuring Grant Withers, an actor who was privileged to work with Mae West in "Goin' to Town" [1935].
• • From 1912 — 1949, Ben Hall participated in 175 motion pictures. Since the five-foot-seven performer retained his boyish looks and youthful physique, he was often cast in junior roles such as the young newsboy, "boy about to be shot," cabin boy, bellhop, Western Union boy, pupil, son, brother, Fraternity Pledge, mamma's boy, freckled boy, mail clerk, butcher boy, and  "student kicked by bully." In 1940, he was 41 years old when he was cast as a "schoolboy" for Flower Belle Lee's classroom scene in "My Little Chickadee."
• • Ben Hall's final film role was as a patient in "The Doctor and the Girl" [1949]; actress Kay Deslys was also in the cast and had worked with Mae West 15 years before in "Belle of the Nineties" [1934].
• • Ben Hall died in North Hollywood, California on Monday, 20 May 1985. He was 86.
• • On Wednesday, 18 March 1936 • •
• • Variety reviewed "Klondike Annie," calling the motion picture "chic" and starting the critique on the front page. But the man-on-the-aisle objected to several elements therein. "Miss West is handicapped by having to wear rather dowdy dresses in about half the footage. In other portions she struts fine feathers and wears a set of furs that will make the women gasp," he commented on page 17. Variety Magazine's issue was dated for Wednesday, 18 March 1936.
• • In the March 2000 issue of The New Criterion • •
• • The New Criterion published the article "Mae Days" by Mark Steyn (Vol. 18, March 2000). Mark Steyn wrote: "But quite a lot of Mae West is going quite a long way on the New York stage these days. It’s been twenty years since her death, almost seventy since her career peaked, and, on a random sample, I find most people today have no very clear idea who she was. Yet she’s out there . . . ."
• • On Sunday, 18 March 2007 in NYC • •
• • Mae West was featured at the South Street Seaport on 18 March and 24 March 2007 when a salute to old-time variety artists was onstage.
• • "Voices of the Town — — A Vaudeville Salute!" featured a line-up that included Mae West, The Marx Brothers, Sophie Tucker, Bert Williams, Florence Mills, Eva Tanguay, Marie Dressler, and more.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "He seemed to have a lot of trouble. I think he was all right, but just couldn't get the money he needed."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Film Daily mentioned Mae West.
• • "Production Programs by Major Pictures Corp." • •
• • Film Daily wrote: Production Line-Up, Season 1937—1938, 16 Features Released by Paramount.
 • • In July 1937, Emanuel Cohen announced in Film Daily that Mae was making a new motion picture for Major Pictures Corp. The title, said Cohen, was "Sapphire Sal — Night of Mystery." Starring Mae West and Grant Richards, and directed by Eddie Sutherland, the story was being written by Jo Swerhing.
• • Naturally, the title would be revised to "Every Day's a Holiday" and released in the USA on Thursday, 18 December 1937.
• • Source: News Item in Film Daily; published in July 1937
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2607th 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  in 1940

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