Thursday, May 09, 2013

Mae West: Harry the Hipster

MAE WEST starred in "Come On Up" and  Harry "the Hipster" Gibson was in the cast in October 1946 when the comedy was staged in Philadelphia at the Walnut Street Theatre and elsewhere.  Gibson played the role of Lou Baker, sailor.
• • The play was directed by Russell Fillmore and produced by the Shuberts. Their booking in Philly was part of a national tour that continued into 1947.
• • Harry Gibson [27 June 1915 — 9 May 1991] • •
• • Born in the Bronx, NY on 27 June 1915, little Harry Raab started piano lessons as a little boy. When the family moved to Harlem in the 1920s, the cultural influence soon had him talking jive and perfecting boogie woogie, Dixieland, be-bop, blues, classical, ragtime, stride, Bach, and other styles he made up out of his head. During Prohibition and after repeal, he was regularly hired as a pianist in Harlem night spots.
• • According to combined sources, Harry "The Hipster" Gibson also sang the unusual and controversial songs he wrote, but their startling subject matter (drug abuse, adultery, crime, etc.) kept his music banned from airplay. Supposedly, he had his own cult following. After he wrote the song "Handsome Harry, The Hipster," in the early 1940s, and recorded it in 1944, his nickname stuck.
• • He has one motion picture to his credit, a musical comedy "Junior Prom" (released on 11 May 1946). In the cast of "Junior Prom" was Sam Flint, who played the fire chief in "Belle of the Nineties" [1934].
• • Harry was 31 years old when Mae West tapped him for her traveling show in 1946.
• • During the rock and roll era, he shifted his focus away from music, driving a cab, and being a bit of a recluse. Occasionally, he would resurface and jam with his former friends.
• • Harry Gibson died in California in the month of May — — on Thursday, 9 May 1991. He was 75.
• • On Sunday, 9 May 1937 in The L.A. Times • •
• • Usually supportive of Mae, Sidney Skolsky vented his frustrations in The L.A. Times on Sunday, 9 May 1937.  Skolsky wrote about the perfidiousness of Mae's denials when "she insisted that she was leveling with the press when she told them she had never been married to Frank Wallace."  He said he did not trust her any longer. Ah, those pesky retractions about husbands and trips to the altar.
• • On Tuesday, 9 May 1944 • •
• • The National Collection of War Art owns a poignant line drawing.  The title is "Duncan McPhee, Mae West and Lt. Lindsay, near New Georgia, 9 May 1944" (and Lt. Lindsay is depicted wearing his Mae West).
• • On Monday, 9 May 2005 in Playbill • •
• • On Monday, 9 May 2005, Broadway buffs learned that Diamond Lil's theatre was to be renamed.  Mae West's play "Diamond Lil" was a huge hit for the Royale in 1928. However, on May 9th in New York City, the Plymouth and the Royale were re-dedicated as the Schoenfeld and Jacobs Theatres.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I'll keep talking myself out of marriage as long as I'm in the pictures."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about superstitious Hollywood stars mentioned Mae West.
• • "Mae West Loses Title — — Lederer's Fads" • •
• • Mae West has lost the title of being Hollywood's most superstitious star. It has gone to Francis Lederer. 
• • The Mail wrote: Mae West believes six to be her lucky number, and she has arranged matters so that her phone, car licence, dressing room, and apartment numbers add up to that figure. Mr. Lederer has topped this by surrounding himself with nothing but the digits themselves. The licence number of the gentleman's car contains nothing but sixes. His dressing room number is 66.   ...
• • Source: News Item in The Mail (Adelaide); published on Saturday, 1 August 1936 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2645th 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.

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• • Mae West 1946

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