Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Mae West: Connecticut Chaos

MAE WEST makes an amusing comment about City Hall in the play "Courting Mae West." Let's use a brief excerpt from Act II, Scene 5 (set in April 1930 during the "Pleasure Man" trial) to introduce an intriguing news article from The Hartford Courant on Mae's Connecticut experiences.
• • TEXAS GUINAN: Pooh!  I’ve been arrested and behind bars more times than you’ve had (pause) birthdays.
• • MAE WEST: Yeah, and you go FREE after a few hours.  You NEVER stayed over nights—like me. 
• • TEXAS GUINAN: Thank City Hall!  You got a King Midas payoff of free publicity for a measly jail term.
• • MAE WEST: (with effort)  Sergei divorced my sister after our arrest.  He should have thanked City Hall.
• • Source: "Courting Mae West," II, 5 wrtten by LindaAnn Loschiavo. Copyrighted text used by permission.
• • "Mae West's Imprint on Stamford" • •
• • Hartford Courant reporter Frank Rizzo explained:  May (sic) West wrote a play that caused controversy in Stamford, where it was scheduled for tryouts in 1927.
• • Frank Rizzo continued: "The Drag" was a new play by Jane Mast slated to have its out-of-town try-out on a stage in Stamford in 1927. But trouble started when word spread that the author was really Mae West who had just scandalized Broadway with her play "Sex," which was still running with her as the star.
• • Frank Rizzo added: The manager of the Stamford Theater, Mrs. Emily W. Hartley, which The Courant described as "an actress of note who is believed to have the distinction of being the only woman manager of of a legitimate theater in the United States... [Mrs. Hartley] was given to understand that the play was of an uplifting nature."  But when Mrs. Hartley learned that the work "concerned itself and none too subtly with homosexology" and cross-dressing, she "closed the door of her theater to the production."
• • Frank Rizzo noted:  But a hearing was sought by the producers of the play in Bridgeport and the show was allowed to go on — — with detectives from New York, where the show would eventually head, in the audience. But the detectives didn't see the show as written because of expurgations demanded by the local police chief.
• • Frank Rizzo observed: But adding to the tabloid nature of the event was some off-stage drama, which the Hartford Courant reported with a combination of propriety and pulp fiction.
• • "Members of the company had a merry party [at a hotel] after the first performance." Among the participants were Miss Beverly West, sister of the author — — and a married woman — — and Edwin (sic) Elsner, who directed the play.
• • A complaint was made to the police about the party and a couple was arrested on misconduct charges. In court they explained they were merely going over the script together "with the view to making some changes."
• • Frank Rizzo pointed out: The case was nulled on payment of costs. West and Elsner said they would sue the hotel for $100,000 charging defamation of character and false arrest.
• • Frank Rizzo added: Things got fishier when it was discovered that in the courtroom was a New York lawyer for Beverly West's husband — — who was seeking a divorced — — and a stenographer taking notes.
• • Frank Rizzo concluded:  The publicity the play received made the brief run of three nights highly profitable. (It was advertised as "more sensational than 'White Cargo,' 'Rain' and 'Sex'!") After Stamford, the production moved to Paterson, N.J. "The Drag" never makes it to Broadway but a reworked version titled "The Pleasure Man" did —— with the leading man now portrayed as a heterosexual. It lasted one performance.
• • Source:  Article in The Hartford Courant written by Frank Rizzo; published on Sunday, 23  February  2014.
• • On Wednesday, 4 March 1936 • •
• • Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst had it in for Mae West. For years he barred his editors from giving her motion pictures any positive coverage. Naturally, the reasons that caused Hearst's animosity for the Paramount Pictures star were widely debated. Not to be out-witted, the clever publicists at Paramount managed to promote "Klondike Annie" in Hearst's publications in other ways, for instance, by inserting advertisements urging readers to call the theater for details on a special showing.
• • The flapdoodle over "Klondike Annie" was discussed in Variety's issue dated for Wednesday, 4 March 1936. Coverage appeared in Hollywood Citizen News on 4 March 1936 also.
• • Mae West felt that her earnings, which approximated Hearst's stupendous salary, made him envious. Perhaps Hearst reconsidered the lost ad revenue to his publications because he ended this embargo by the end of 1936.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • While Mae West was talking to me — — and also eating a light lunch of ham and eggs, noodle soup (drunk from a Georgia Tech mug) and a sliver of fruit cake — — at the same time she was autographing a stack of photos.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Making the movie, that's the easy part. It's the writing that's the job. But I got to write it to do it right, so I've got double work. Most stars have it written for them, but this star has to write for herself!"
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Australian press mentioned Mae West.
• • The Mirror (in Perth, Australia) wrote: Mae West's characterisation of a motion picture star in "Go West Young Man," the hilarious comedy, which will be screening at the Grand Theatre, Friday next, March 4, strangely enough, is entirely unlike her own life as an outstanding film luminary.  ...
• • Source: The Mirror;  published on Friday, 4 March 1938  
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2862nd 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 in 1930

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