Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Mae West: Billy Barton

Everyone in my show business world knows that MAE WEST and I were close friends, wrote Billy Barton in the November issue of The Mystery Fancier. My father acted as her press agent for the play "Sex" in 1927 (the year of my birth). And when she had trouble getting the New York dailies to run ads with the show's title, she journeyed to my family's circus, playing at the time in New Jersey, and grabbed our billposters to paper Manhattan.  Each time city officials tore down the paper, my family's stalwarts slapped it back up again.  "Sex" became a smash hit and my association with Mae started at that instant — — although it wasn't to flower until the 1950s when I went to work for her in her night club revue.
• • Billy Barton continued: Mae and I saw a lot of each other over the years.  I spent weekends at her beach house in Santa Monica when I was filming "Jumbo" at M-G-M, and she came often to circuses (in Los Angeles) in which I was starring. Mae was a great circus fan. She adored circus people, was crazy about lions and tigers and monkeys.
• • Billy Barton explained: In Mae's cast, during the production of "Catherine Was Great" and, later, during the revival of "Diamond Lil," was a clever artist Ray Bourbon, a female impersonator who had played Mae's maid in "Catherine" and a beat-up Bowery hag in "Lil." During the run of "Lil," Mae West and Ray Bourbon collaborated on a murder mystery play which was never produced.  ...
• • Source: "Mae West: Mistress of Mystery? Almost" written by Billy Barton for The Mystery Fancier (Vol. 6, No. 6) November — December 1982 issue.
• • Mae West gave Billy Barton the nickname "Mister Sensation."
• • Billy Barton [24 March 1927 — 21 March 2005] • •
• • Born in Newark, NJ on 24 March 1927, Lewis Henry Barton was the son of Joshua Lewis Barton and Lorraine J. Neville. But Billy was raised mostly by his uncle George Barton and his wife Marguerite.
• • In 1942, the trim 15-year-old was employed at Carlin's Amusement Park in Baltimore. He was one of the founders of the cloud swing, a takeoff on the trapeze, and he had a lengthy career as a circus aerialist.  After working with Mae West in the 1950s, he was in one motion picture, Billy Rose's "Jumbo" [1962]; he plays a circus performer.  
• • Actively involved in the big top until the end, Billy Barton was the performance director of the Jordan World Circus from 1996 — 2005.
• • He died in Toledo, Ohio on 21 March 2005. He was 3 days away from his 78th birthday.
• • On Monday, 6 November 1933 in Australia • •
• • The awe-struck tone is obvious in the article "At the Capitol — First Appearance of Mae West."  Although the reporter from Canberra, Australia puzzled over the movie's title and suggested other titles more suitable than "She Done Him Wrong" (such as "Bowery Love"), there was praise for the leading lady.
• • Impressed by her following Down Under, he wrote: "But another intriguing question was how great an actress is Mae West. If her first film appearance in Australia represents a completely submerged personality and complete dominance of the actress by her part, then her performance was a very great success. This is something to be decided in future film appearances of the blonde. ..."
• • Source: Article in Canberra Times; published on Monday, 6 November 1933.
• • On Monday, 6 November 1933 in Time Magazine • •
• • In October 1933, Time Magazine reported this: "The Central Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, meeting in Milwaukee last week, congratulated Mae West for popularizing plump female figures . . . ."
• • The edition of Time dated for Monday, 6 November 1933 printed readers' letters reacting to that group of physicians along with the publishing of Mae's measurements in the same article.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • I think that Mae West has done 'em more good than wrong. Every one was bent on calling a spade everything from a stiletto to a derrick when she stepped in, dug up all the hidden suggestions, put them on a gilded tray and served them hot. To see a character which starts out bad go on being bad and finish in a triumph of badness is not demoralizing. To see a pure young Lily turn into a passion flower, wither and droop for a few reels, then end up in the arms of the right man and usually more beautiful than before the fall is apt to make the younger Lilys think it's all fairly simple.
• • It's a pity that the pendulum of public approval, which has been swinging so far to the smutty side, should suddenly fall back and sock Mae West. She is a great personality and I'm only hoping that she will come out in one of those hard boiled but soft hearted characters who are always helping people and don't want any one to know it. She might well write a story about herself and play it, now that it is going to be fashionable to be decent.
• • 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:
• • 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:
• • 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
• • 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:
• • 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.

• • Mrs. Jean McLoughlin of NYC said:   I recently saw "Diamond Lil" and loved every minute. The entire cast was top-notch, and I was impressed with their creative use of the entire space. The characters really came to life and I was transported back to the raunchy days of Mae West. Darlene Violette gave a great performance as Diamond Lil  — — but Joanna Bonaro really shone as the sultry, venomous Rita. Joanna commands attention and I was more than willing to give it. Fantastic show, I highly recommend that everyone see it! Even my husband, who does not like theater, really enjoyed it.
• • At Jefferson Market Library in NYC this month • •
• • Mae West's legal woes inspired the stage play "Courting Mae West." See it on Saturday, 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:  "What I mean is I was coming to the conclusion that boys made much better playmates than girls."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Republican mentioned Mae West.
• • Fred Contrada wrote: Built by Northampton, Mass. native Edward H. R. Lyman, the Academy of Music opened as a state-of-the art opera house. Lyman deeded the building to the city in 1892, making it the nation’s first municipally owned theater. The full-fly proscenium stage and full-size screen are unique in the region, according to executive director Debra J’Anthony.  “The vast majority of full-fly theaters are motorized now,” she said. “Our hemp rope and pulley system has become a real rarity, and we intend to keep it.”
• • Fred Contrada explained: Among the legends who have appeared on the Academy’s stage are Mae West, Harry Houdini, Rudolph Valentino and Boris Karloff. However, just as time has taken its toll on the building itself, the changing economy and public tastes forced the Academy to revamp its mission.    ...
• • Source: Article: "Academy of Music in Northampton holds first capital campaign to restore 'interior glory' of building" written by Fred Contrada for The Republican; published on Thursday, 31 October 2013 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2781st 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:

Source: to Google

• • Photo:
• • Mae West Diamond Lil returned for Mae's birthday

• • Feed — —
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