Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mae West: Failed Ostriches

MAE WEST kept the ostrich farms prosperous by reviving the fashions of the 1890s, observed a Sunday columnist on 29 April 1934. But eventually, according to this reporter, the screen siren failed the flightless bird. Publisher Martin Quigley once ranted and railed against the screen siren, exclaiming that she was "a symbolism of attainable sex, garnished with ostrich plumes of the red plush parlor period."
• • All right now. Let's see what's behind this squawking.

• • "Mae West and Sally Rand Fail Ostriches" • •
• • Columnist Kirke Simpson wrote: The combined charms of Mae West and Sally Rand have not saved a formerly famous and profitable ostrich farm near Pasadena, California. Once said to be worth $500,000, the farm was recently put on sale to pay $132 in delinquent taxes.
• • Kirke Simpson explained: From a herd (or is it a flock?) of more than 200 ostriches, the number has dwindled to about fifty. Their sad fate cannot be blamed on the ostriches. They did not hide their heads in the sand, but trouble overtook them just the same.
• • Kirke Simpson continued:  Although the ostriches have always had many admirers, it was wearing their plumes, not just looking at the birds, that made the ostrich farm profitable. When styles in women's hats changed and feather boas and fans went out, the ostrich farm was doomed. Perhaps the doom is only temporary. One never knows about feminine fashions.  . . .
• • Source:  Article "A Washington Bystander" written by Kirke Simpson in San Bernardino Sun; published on Sunday, 29 April 1934.
• • On Sunday, 29 April 1928 • •
• • Percy Hammond's lengthy article about Mae West's career and her latest drama "Diamond Lil" was titled “The Rewards of Virtue” — — and it led off his syndicated coverage of the theatre scene.  His positive review was first printed in The New York Tribune on Sunday, 29 April 1928.
• • On Friday, 29 April 1938 in the Boston Herald • •
• • Beantown readers were treated to this titillation on Friday, 29 April 1938, announced with a boldface headline: "Clutching, Squealing Crowd Greets Mae West with Mob Scene Here."
• • The Boston Herald reporter wrote: Complete with the publicized curves and husky, slurring accents that have made her practically a symbol of what she is pleased to call “the sex personality,” Mae West crashed into Boston yesterday morning through a clutching, squealing crowd of 3000 eager admirers who turned the South station into a mob scene.
• • The Boston Herald reporter noted: Cries of pain mingled with shouts of “There she is!” and “Give us a smile, Mae!” as the mob, in a surging onslaught, trampled on toes and barked shins to get closer to the object of it all. The plump blonde actress, in a trailing satin dress, with make-up thick on her features and a huge bunch of orchids clutched in a heavily jeweled hand, gave them the smile and was taken off to the Ritz-Carlton, where she is staying while appearing in person at the RKO Boston Theater this week.
• • On Saturday, 29 April 1950 in Pittsburgh • •
• • Pittsburgh's Mayor David Lawrence and Mae West shared the stage of the Nixon Theater on Saturday night, 29 April 1950, after the final performance of her play, "Diamond Lil." The 47-year-old playhouse was booked for bulldozing, making way for the new headquarters of the Aluminum Company of America.  Tsk.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • It has taken a bit of time for some producers to realize that the single name of Shirley Temple or Will Rogers or Mae West contains more sales talk than "a super-special with an all-star cast." Temple and Rogers and West are quantities that can be visualized by exhibitors as well as by their patrons.
• • Not so with "stupendous production" and "stellar cast." They are just high-sounding phrases that leave the reader cold and unimpressed.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I may be old, but I'm not that old. I've sat on more laps than a napkin."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article written by Percy Hammond praised Mae West (finally).
• • "Mae West Turns Good in 'Diamond Lil' — Play Is Recommended" • •
• • NEW YORK, May 5 — Theatre critic Percy Hammond wrote:  After suffering the twinges of disgrace for a time. Miss Mae West is now enjoying the comforts of respectability. . . .
• • Percy Hammond continued: Associations with the wardens, the gaolers, her culprit sisters in a local calaboose made her a good girl, it seems, for as soon as she was liberated, she set out to earn the rewards of virtue.  ...
• • Source:  Theatre by Percy Hammond rpt in The Pittsburgh Press; published on Sunday, 6 May 1928
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2902nd 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 1935 wearing ostrich-trimmed robe

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