Thursday, May 02, 2013

Mae West: Boris Petroff

A rumor about MAE WEST and Jim Timony was printed in early May on Wednesday, 2 May 1934 in the Hollywood Citizen-News. It seems that "Old Faithful," the lawyer and manager who had stood by Mae for over a dozen years, guiding her career, was currently bunking on a different floor at The Ravenswood with his new roommate Boris Petroff.
• • Boris Petroff [1894 — 1972] • •
• • Born in Saratov, Russia in 1894, Boris Petroff came to the USA with ballet training.
• • In July 1919, the 25-year-old was working on the prestigious Keith circuit. When The Washington Times printed notices of the current attractions being offered locally in Washington, D.C. by B.F. Keith on 17 July 1919, Boris Petroff and Company was attached to the Alla Maslova Ballet. 
• • In 1923, the Boris Petroff Ballet produced "The Wanderer," a lavish spectacle with a large cast staged in Chicago at the storied McVickers Theatre.
• • By the end of 1929, he was doing a show in Manhattan. The New York Times announced on 14 December 1929 that Ruby Keeler Jolson was appearing in the New York Paramount's newest attraction, "Ingenues' Gambol," which was staged by Boris Petroff.
• • Probably through his connection to Paramount Pictures, Petroff became involved in a live promotional stage show in Manhattan for Mae West in 1933. When she was publicizing "She Done Him Wrong," all the major movie houses would schedule a variety act that was performed between film screenings, a practice that is still maintained today at Radio City Music Hall in NYC.
• • Petroff seemed to be romancing Mae West (or trying to) during May 1934. He went down the aisle, eventually, with screenwriter Jane Mann; their daughter Gloria, born in October 1939, became an actress.
• • Between 1936 — 1963, Petroff worked in Tinseltown under the Americanized moniker of Brooke L. Peters; he was linked to a modest handful of films as either a writer, producer, or director. Some of these projects had a dance theme or a Soviet spy type plot.
• • Brooke L. Peters/ Boris Petroff died in 1972. He was 78.
• • On Sunday, 2 May 1982 • •
• • In the United States the bio-pic "Mae West" was shown on TV on Sunday, 2 May 1982. Actress Ann Jillian was cast in the title role. To announce this, Chicago TV Week Magazine put a beautiful photo of Mae on their cover; this issue was dated for May 2nd, too.
• • On Sunday, 2 May 1982 in The N.Y. Times • •
• • Covering the Mae West bio-pic for The N.Y. Times, John J. O'Connor wrote: If nothing else, television biographies are remarkable for their sheer variety.  ... The viewer is advised at the outset that the script, written by E. Arthur Kean, is ''based on events in the life of the legendary Mae West.'' Legend, of course, doesn't necessarily have anything to do with truth. In this case, certain autobiographical facts are embellished with several of Miss West's more famous comments about life and sex (''When I'm good, I'm very good; when I'm bad, I'm better''), some of them taken out of their original performance context and delivered as passing conversation.   . . . Her detractors, however, are offered a measure of comfort in the depiction of her private love life as a mess. The wicked, presumably, will still be punished.  . . .
• • On Monday, 2 May 2011 in People Magazine • •
• • Mae West appeared in People Magazine in their issue dated for 2 May 2011.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I didn't have to learn about 'bad' women as every woman knows how 'bad' a woman can be if she makes up her mind."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article in Australia mentioned Mae West.
• • "Mae West — London Offer Turned Down" • •
• •  I am as full-figured as any figure, but I shall not be be sliced in halves. Paramount Pictures wants all of me now,'' said Miss Mae West, when referring to this offer of £3500 a week, which had been made to her to appear at the Piccadilly Theatre, when it is opened as a variety tleatre.  ...
• • Source: News Item in The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate; published on Thursday, 21 November 1935
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2640th 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 1934

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1 comment:

  1. Hello!

    I just stumbled upon this blog and I must thank you for posting this little historical analysis. You see, I'm Boris Petroff's grandson!

    On a more general note, I don't know if any of your readers will find this amusing or not, but I once heard my Grandmother joke about Mae and the "rumor" of her relationship with my Grandfather. She had a folder of family artifacts and one contained a "political cartoon" very much in the old Playboy magazine style, which showed a caricature of my grandfather and Mae west in bed. She also possessed, at one time, a gold watch the obverse of which was engraved "Happy Birthday Boris! Love, Mae." I remember the cartoon and watch quite vividly, but sadly they were both lost when my Grandmother passed away. My father, Michael Petroff (Gloria's younger brother) told me that Grandma HATED Mae West and insinuated that she may have destroyed the folder and sold the watch. This would not be out of keeping with her intense and passionate character.

    Anyway, while I know my family history is but tangential to the purpose of your blog, I just wanted to take a brief moment to thank you personally and offer whatever small relevant details I may happen to remember as the only form of repaying the favor I can conceive.

    Best wishes,

    Brendan Petroff

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