Monday, May 13, 2013

Mae West: Whispering Jack Smith

"MAE WEST takes some pride in the fact that, during the variety years, two young men were associated with her as pianists who have since done all right on their own," wrote Harold V. Cohen. "One of them was Harry Richman, and the other Whispering Jack Smith."
• • Source: Article: "'Drayma' Lures La West Back — Returns to Stage Again in Typical Role" by Harold V. Cohen printed in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; published on Monday, 26 February 1945.
• • When Mae herself told the story about her former accompanist, she claimed that Jack Smith (born in May) didn't whisper so much back then.
• • Jack Smith [31 May 1898 — 13 May 1950] • •
• • Born in NYC's borough of the Bronx on Tuesday, 31 May 1898, Jack  Schmidt began working as a teenager. In 1915 he was one of the singers in a male quartet regularly featured at a Bronx theater. During the first world war, he did his military service. Then in 1918, under the name Jack Smith, he was hired as a "song plugger" for the Irving Berlin Music Publishing Company. He also found work on the radio as a pianist and a singer.
• • "Whispering" Jack Smith was a popular singer and recording artist during the 1920s and 1930s. His unique and interesting "whispering" style of singing was a result of a necessity. A World War I injury (due to a poison gas attack) would prevent Smith from singing at full volume.
• • In the late 1940s, he made a brief come-back. But a fatal heart attack silenced him. He died in the month of May — — on Saturday, 13 May 1950.  He was 51.  The singer was buried next to his mother Anna Schmidt at St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx, New York. He was survived by his wife.
• • On Sunday, 13 May 1956 • •
• • Blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield encountered the very handsome Mr. Universe 1956 Miklos (Mickey) Hargitay on 13 May 1956, while attending a performance of the "Mae West Revue" at the Latin Quarter night club in Manhattan.
• • Twenty months later, Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay wed on 13 January 1958. They had three children and, alas, would divorce in 1964.
• • On Saturday, 13 May 1961 • •
• • Mae West posed with Gary Cooper in a tavern to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. They socialized at several Tinseltown tete-a-tetes, too. On Saturday, 13 May 1961, the "Coop" lost his battle with cancer.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Women did better when they required a lot more attention from men, more waiting on. In the old days, even the "bad women" were at least glamourous. Glamourous — — you know what I mean? Such woman today are just plain cheap. They're not even good chiselers."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • George Jean Nathan mentioned Mae West.
• • George Jean Nathan wrote: If the innocent bystander is not driven to forsake Art and marry Mae West on the spot after vainly trying to make head or tail out of such literary dialect, I am the wrong candidate for Secretary of Culture and they had better start looking around for another man at once. ...
• • Source: "The Theatre Book of the Year, 1945-1946" written by George Jean Nathan
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started eight years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2647th 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:

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• • Mae West 1922

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