Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mae West: And Not Woodhaven

Most Mae-mavens know that MAE WEST was born on Bushwick Avenue and that she was proud of introducing her Brooklyn accent to the movie industry.
• • For some odd reason, the estimable IBDB had been listing her birthplace as Woodhaven, Queens — — until the Mae West Blog submitted a correction.
• • IBDB@broadway.org wrote: Several sources (including her obit in The N.Y. Times) say Mae was born in Brooklyn, so it's been changed!  Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. — — Kind Regards, IBDB Staff
• • It's important to stay on top of details like this because the Internet Broadway Database is a vital resource for many theatre historians and researchers.  Misinformation will invariably get copied and passed on, creating more confusion.
• • Why Mae West never went to Neir's • •
• • Reminds me of those absurd falsehoods about Mae "hanging out" at Louis Neir's place, originally a grocery store that gradually expanded into an all-male saloon for laborers and sweaty factory workers during the brief time the West family resided in the area. 
• • No, Mae West did not set foot inside Neir's — — nor did any other respectable women during the Prohibition Era. Why would they? During the 1920s and 1930s, there was no "ladies' entrance" at Neir's and their rarely-cleaned urinals were another reason this Woodhaven bar was a regular gathering spot only for those gritty spit-on-the-floor blue-collar fellows versus couples (until modern times).
• • Factories based in Woodhaven when Mae resided there • •  
• • Woodhaven's growth and building boom were directly linked to the employment opportunities at its local factories, such as Lalance and Grosjean Manufacturing Company (whose sprawling plant resembled a country village); Merit Hosiery Company at 104th Street; Custen Brothers, who produced buttons; Regal Spear Company, who made straw and cloth hats; D. Nussbaum Knitting Mills; Uneeda Garment Company (95th Street); Anheuser-Busch Company (who built a steel plant to make ice cream on 94th Street during Prohibition); et cetera.
• • Because it developed as a blue-collar factory district, Woodhaven had no local theatres for live performances of plays, ballets, operas, nor concerts. During the 1920s, however, movie houses began to be constructed.
• • The West family relocated often. By the mid-1920s, for instance, they were no longer in Woodhaven and were living in Floral Park, Queens.
• • On 11 March 1936 in NYC • •
• • The reviews of "Klondike Annie" starring Mae West — — as The Frisco Doll, Rose Carlton, Sister Annie Alden — — began appearing in the month of March. In Manhattan, there was an exclusive engagement at the Paramount Theatre, 1501 Broadway, N.Y., for the week of 11 March 1936
• • On Saturday, 11 March 2000 in Alaska • •
• • A midnight showing of "The Drag" by Mae West was held at Goldtown Nickelodeon Theater on Saturday, 11 March 2000 in Alaska. The director was Heather Paige.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West, who spends most of her time reasserting the siren urge, gets away with more daring stills than Jean Harlow.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "I'm very boring in real life. So I made up the walk and the talk."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A North Carolina newspaper mentioned Mae West.
• • W. C. Fields coyly kisses Mae West's hand in one of the uproarious scenes from the comedy "My Little Chickadee," which plays Friday at the Playhouse. ...
• • Source:  Statesville Record and Landmark (Statesville, N.C.); published on Saturday, 11 March 1950
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2867th 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 Mae's bio in a 1949 Playbill

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  1. Anonymous1:25 PM

    I love Mae West and your blog. Question I found an old article where you talked about an article you were going to write on Rudolph Valentino. Valentino coming out in L'Idea? Did you ever write this article? I would love to read it....thank you.

    Chris Roman

  2. Dear Chris Roman:
    Yes, I did write the article on Valentino and it was published in L'IDEA Magazine circa 2003-2004. Unfortunately, their website was not archiving all the articles at that time.
    However, I did retain a printed copy of my article and it will be reprinted in my forthcoming book: "Flirting with the Fire Gods."
    Thank you for your comment.