Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Mae West: Cleo Desmond

Pianist and columnist Alberta Hunter wrote: Marion Roberts, one of the top accompanists in the business, and Cleo Desmond are creating sensations in MAE WEST's show, "Ring Twice Tonight," currently playing Seattle.
• • Source: "Briefs From Los Angeles" column by Alberta Hunter in The Afro American; published on 6 July 1946.
• • The play's title was "Come On Up" and "Ring Twice Tonight," eventually combining both phrases. Let's learn more about the black entertainer Cleo Desmond, who played Lottie in the production.
• • Cleo Desmond [25 April 1880 — 6 October 1958] • •
• • Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 25 April 1880 was a little sweetheart named Minnie Matilda Hatfield. She pursued training in the dramatic arts and appeared onstage and on radio.
• • By 1917 she was onscreen in a silent film, a weepy drama "The Easiest Way"; she played Annie. At this time, when there were limited opportunities for black actresses, she got very few chances to show off her talents in motion pictures in featured roles. 
• • She has eight movies to her credit from 1917 — 1942.
• • Fortunately, Mae West recognized talent and cast Cleo Desmond in her touring company, which made the rounds from 1946  — 1947.
• • Cleo Desmond died in San Diego, California on Monday, 6 October 1958. She was 78.
• • Happy Birthday, Rona Barrett • •
• • Rona Barrett, a gossip columnist and friend of Mae's, was born on Thursday, 8 October 1936.  Hope it's a beautiful day for you, Miss Rona.
• • On Thursday, 8 October 1931 • •
• • A review of "The Constant Sinner" appeared in the Herald Tribune. "West's New Play" ran in the newspaper on Thursday, 8 October 1931.
• • On Tuesday, 8 October 1935 in The Los Angeles Examiner • •
• • "Mae West Guarded after Threat" ran on the front cover of The Los Angeles Examiner  on Tuesday, 8 October 1935. Detective Harry Dean, beautifully gowned, was standing next to Mae West.  Also shown was part of the extortionist's note.  A cafeteria worker had targeted several movie idols from major studios as well as Mae, as it turned out.
PHOTO: Wayne Takenaka
• • See "Diamond Lil" This Autumn! • • 
"Darlene Violette channels Mae West to perfection!" — Stu Hamstra
• • By popular demand, actress Darlene Violette — — and the wonderful cast who brought the Bowery denizens and Suicide Hall’s ne’er-do-wells to life — — will return in “Diamond Lil” for several evening performances at Don’t Tell Mama [343 W. 46th Street] on these dates in 2013:
• • 7:30pm on Sunday October 27th — Hallowe'en Party — come in 1890s costume!
• • 7:00pm on Sunday November 3rd — vote for Gus Jordan for Sheriff Night.
• • 8:30pm on Sunday November 10th
• • 7:00pm on Sunday November 17th
• • 7:00pm on Sunday November 24th
• • Phone after 4pm to reserve a seat: 212-757-0788; RSVP online: www.donttellmamanyc.com
• • Closest MTA subway stations: 42nd St./ Times Sq. via A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 
• • The public is invited (suitable for age 18 and over). Join us as we turn the iconic NYC nightspot Don't Tell Mama into Gus Jordan's "Suicide Hall"! 
• • The Cast: Starring Darlene Violette as Diamond Lil, Queen of the Bowery and also featuring Sidney Myer, Anthony DiCarlo, Joanna Bonaro, Gary Napoli, Juan Sebastian Cortes, Kimmy Foskett, Jim Gallagher and live music by Brian McInnis
• • Director: Co-directed by Dena Tyler, The Actors Studio, and Darlene Violette.
• • Come up and see for yourself. You might even win a swell Raffle Prize.
• • Watch a short clip: Diamond Lil meets Pablo, a gigolo
• • Read a Review of "Diamond Lil" • •
• • L'Idea Magazine's editors attended four times and had a lot to say. Here's the link: http://www.lideamagazine.com/usa-still-entertaining-mae-wests-diamond-lil-makes-new-fans-in-new-york-city/
• • Staying faithful to the gritty themes in the novel, LindaAnn Loschiavo trimmed the work to 85 minutes for a cast of eight.
• • Audience Comments about "Diamond Lil" • •
• • Gigi Garcone said:  Just saw "Diamond Lil" — — a very entertaining production! This tribute to the sultry, irresistible diva Mae West is a must see! All the actors are very talented and you can see they put their hearts into their roles. I especially liked Darlene Violette as Mae West and Joanna Bonaro as Rita, a madam from Rio. Darlene encompassed the whole persona of Mae and Joanna was sublime as the madam — — she really has such a presence on stage. Very enjoyable performance and it's worth the trip!
• • Rick Baynes of Baltimore said: I second Gigi's comments. "Diamond Lil" brings the fabulous Mae West back to life. The wonderful Darlene Violette is spot-on in her portrayal of the lusty, bawdy Mae. Do yourself a favor and go see this lovely production.

• • At Jefferson Market Library in NYC next month • • 
• • Mae West's legal woes inspired the stage play "Courting Mae West." See it on 23 November 2013 in the very same room where Mae faced off with Judge George Donnellan and 12 jurors. 
• • Darlene Violette stars as Mae West and the rest of the cast will soon be announced. 
• • The play, based on true events, is set during the Prohibition Era when Mae's plays were padlocked and she was sent to jail. Talk about a woman who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.. 
• • This free event is open to the public and there is ample seating. [Note: The humor and adult themes are not suitable for children under 13.]
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "White men can't play black music."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Journal Star mentioned Mae West.
• • Morrie Enders, executive director of the Lincoln Community Playhouse in Nebraska, described the "Roaring 20's" play as a tribute to some of the era's top entertainers, including Mae West, Al Jolson, W.C. Fields, and the comedy team of George Burns and Gracie Allen. "It will be a blend of some of the best, or worst, jokes you've ever heard, depending on your perspective," Morrie Enders mused.
• • Admission to the three performances of the "Roaring 20's" is free. There will be a free-will donation requested to benefit the Lincoln Community Playhouse and the OLLI program at UNL.
• • Reserve a ticket by phone: (402) 472-6265.
• • Source: Press Release printed in Journal Star; published on Tuesday, 8 October 2013
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2758th 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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• • Photo:
• • Mae West Diamond Lil returned for Mae's birthday

• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
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