MAE WEST never dated Leslie Howard, however, Miguel Covarrubias [22 November 1904 — 4 February 1957] sent them to Malibu Beach together in a famous panoramic portrait he produced in 1933.
• • For The New Yorker in May 1927, Covarrubias had drawn Leslie Howard and Jeanne Eagles costumed for their roles in the stage comedy "Her Cardboard Lover" at the Empire Theatre.
• • Covarrubias had first sketched Mae West for The New Yorker in 1928 when she was blazing on Broadway in "Diamond Lil" at the Royale Theatre. When he worked with John Houston on his "Frankie and Johnny" book in 1930, Covarrubias drew the black Frankie Baker clad in a corset to look like a Caucasian hottie — — a buxom Mae West.
• • For his wide-angled view of Malibu, Covarrubias ditched the corset and put Mae in a simple black swimsuit and diamond earrings. The artist assembled a festive group of the filmland's elite for Vanity Fair's August 1933 issue: "Hollywood's Malibu Beach."
• • During the early years of the Great Depression, Malibu had become Tinseltown's coast with the most. Printed in the magazine as a lavish two-page spread, there were so many silver screen personalities transformed by Covarrubias. Fans can easily spot the comedians Laurel and Hardy along with the actors Edward G. Robinson, George Raft, Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, and Leslie Howard — — incongruously clad in a wool v-necked sweater, button-down shirt, dark tie, and spectacles. Nearby are the actresses Joan Crawford, Katharine Hepburn, Miriam Hopkins, Lilyan Tashman, Helen Hayes, Kay Francis, Claudette Colbert, Dolores del Rio, and Norma Shearer suitably attired for a day of sun-bathing.
• • For some reason, Joel McCrea appears to be worshiping Mae West, who gamely smiles, enjoying it all.
• • Mae West and Leslie Howard were also prominently featured in the Spanish magazine "Cine Mundial" (their December 1934 issue) along with Anna May Wong and Leslie Howard's "Of Human Bondage" co-star Bette Davis.
• • Illustration: a close-up detail from "Hollywood's Malibu Beach."
• • Leslie Howard [3 April 1893 — 1 June 1943] • •
• • Born to a British mother and a Hungarian father, Ferdinand Steiner, in Forest Hill, London, England, little Leslie Howard Steiner came along in early April — — on Monday, 3 April 1893. At the age of 24, Leslie Howard began acting on the London stage in 1917. A few years later, he would become both a film actor and a Broadway star.
• • During World War 2, Leslie Howard was active in anti-Nazi propaganda and reputedly involved with British or Allied Intelligence. His plane was flying over the Bay of Biscay when it was shot down on Tuesday, 1 June 1943. He left a wife, two children, and a legion of fans behind. He was 50 years old.
• • On Sunday, 3 April 1927 • •
• • On page 184 of his biography of Mae West, Simon Louvish wrote: "But, on 3 April, the jury had to inform Judge Bertini that they could not agree ..."
• • Gee, must have been the proof-reader's day off. April 3rd was a Sunday. The court was not in session on the weekend.
• • Portions of this trial are dramatized in the full-length play "Courting Mae West." In the case of both obscenity trials [1927 and 1930] in New York City, the outcome would possibly be known by an audience of die-hard Mae mavens: a guilty verdict and jail in 1927 and a hung jury in 1930. But the playwright was determined to stick to the facts and also surprise the audience regarding the outcome. How? Well, you'll just have to see the play to enjoy how cleverly this is managed. Ideally, a producer who likes to have a full house at his/ her productions will bring this play to a theatre once again.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Interviewed by The Advocate, Mae West said: "If I spent some time with a gay boy, he'd never go back to men."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Several papers covered the "Pleasure Man" trial and its effect on Mae West.
• • "Mae West Fails to Testify" • •
• • This trial was very different than the "Sex" trial in 1927 in Judge George Donnellan's courtroom when Mae West could count on Tillie's reassuring nods and smiles across the rows of seating. The anticipated acquittal did not come. Instead Judge Donnellan openly lectured the jurors about Mae's serious transgressions before they deliberated. The jury found her guilty and she was sent to the Workhouse.
• • "Defense Rests After Offering Seven Witnesses" • •
• • But by April 1930, the West family household had come apart. The three siblings were wearing heavy mourning and living together in midtown Manhattan. Mae's brother, now a real estate agent, was supporting his two unemployed sisters. The threat of a second jail term hung over Mae's head. On April Fool's Day, her attorney Nathan Burkan announced to the court that the defense rested.
• • News men were astonished, deprived of the star witness. Headlines on Wednesday, 2 April 1930 registered the disappointment: "Mae West Fails to Testify."
• • Source: various newspapers; published on Wednesday, 2 April 1930
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2619th blog post.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West caricature • • 1933 • •
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