As a child, MAE WEST said she had the low, gruff voice of a boy. One of the parts she played in the Hal Clarendon Stock Company was the role of Little Willie in "East Lynne." Since the author of this sentimental hit died on February 10th, let's investigate.
• • Ellen Wood [17 January 1814 — 10 February 1887] • •
• • Born in Worcester, England on Monday, 17 January 1814 was Ellen Price.
• • In 1836, when she was 22 years old, she wed Henry Wood. Since her husband's line of work was in the banking and shipping industries, he was offered a position in the South of France, where the family resided for 20 years [1836 — 1856]. Ellen raised her four children there. When Henry Wood's business went belly-up, they returned to England and settled in London's Upper Norwood area. To support the household, Ellen took up her pen and turned out more than 30 novels, many of which became big hits.
• • Ellen Wood is best known, however, for her sentimental novel "East Lynne," published in 1861. Quite soon, "East Lynne" was being adapted for the stage. this melodrama was so popular that stock companies would put on a performance whenever they needed guaranteed revenue.
• • The novel was first staged on 26 January 1863 in Brooklyn, NY; by March of that year, "three competing versions were drawing crowds to New York theaters," according to Sally Mitchell. In 1913, the first silent film version of "East Lynne" was released.
• • Ellen Wood died in Great Britain in February — — on Thursday, 10 February 1887. She was 73.
• • Mae as Little Willie in "East Lynne" • •
• • Like all the children on the block, Mae West went to the public school, and she passes over the monotony of the schoolroom for the more exciting adventures in the evening when, as a child actress, with grease paint and furbelows, she occupied the center of the stage.
• • Her first professional appearance took place with the Clarendon Stock Company at the Gotham Theatre in East New York. She was the little daughter who cried out "Father, dear father, come home with me now," in "Ten Nights in a Bar Room."
• • As Little Eva she often took the piano-wire route to heaven in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," playing, as a matter of fact, a large repertoire of child roles in the good old days — "Little Lord Fauntleroy," "The Moonshiner's Daughter," "East Lynne" and "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch."
• • As a member of the stock company, when there were no child parts in the plays, she was called upon to take part in what are known in old-fashioned plays as "olios," or vaudeville acts in between the scenes of the plays. She sang popular songs and gave her imitations, being what was known on the billboards as a "coon shouter."
• • It was at this stage of the game, she avers, that she learned to roll her eyes, a propensity, however, that had to be curbed when she became, for the sake of drama, "Little Eva" or "Little Red Riding Hood." ...
• • Source: Article written for New Movie Magazine [June 1934 issue].
• • On Friday, 10 February 1933 in The New York Times • •
• • An article on "She Done Him Wrong" was published in The New York Times on 10 February 1933.
• • Signed with the byline A. D. S., the Times reviewer described Mae's character Lady Lou as a woman "whose heart is bigger than her sense of decorum."
• • On Monday, 10 February 1936 in Hollywood • •
• • Joseph Breen wrote to Paramount Pictures about Mae West and "Klondike Annie" several times before he agreed on Monday, 10 February 1936 to the film's release.
• • On Tuesday, 10 February 2009 • •
• • A book about Mae West "She Always Knew How: Mae West, A Personal Biography" by Charlotte Chandler was published in its hardcover edition (336 pages) by Simon & Schuster on 10 February 2009.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • The same old carnival background that has served for Mae West's "I'm No Angel" and Clara Bow's "Hoop-la" has been drafted again for this item. The set hasn't deteriorated but the photoplays acted before it get steadily worse.
• • "Good Dame" — directed by Marion Gering. Released by Paramount.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "If I had ever depended on what other people were going to do with me, there would never have been a Mae West."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Pottstown Mercury (Pottstown, PA) mentioned Mae West.
• • Mae West had something to say about politics. “A country is just one big family,” commenced Miss West during an intermission in the production of her new feature, "Klondike Annie,” with Victor McLaglen. “It has internal problems, and arguments with neighbors." ...
• • Source: Pottstown Mercury; published on Monday, 10 February 1936
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2850th blog post.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • playing a male role in 1908 • •
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