Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mae West: Remarkable Voltage

MAE WEST was drawing renewed interest from critics and theatre buffs when her play "Diamond Lil" opened on Broadway. The reviews published in April 1928, when Mae was just getting used to her frisky role as Queen of the Bowery, are the most insightful. Here's the New York based syndicated columnist Leonard Hall, telling his readers what he thought.
• • "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" • •
• • "Star of Several Censored Shows Tries Scorching New Production" • •
• • Leonard Hall wrote: Mae West, the Big Bad Girl of Broadway, is with us again — — Mae of the rolling eye, the undulating hip, the gaudy entertainments. She opened her newest show, "Diamond Lil," at the Royale theater here, and the Main Stem still is roaring.
• • A specialty dancer of remarkable voltage • •
• • Leonard Hall explained: Mae West certainly is one of the most astonishing characters the American theater ever has produced. She came to light about ten years ago as a specialty dancer of remarkable voltage. For a season she appeared in the Rudolf Firml musical hit, "Sometime," and very nearly stole the show from under the emerging Ed Wynn.
• • Leonard Hall continued: Then came the shimmy mania, and that was the beginning of the end of the first phase of Mae West. She shook herself all over the variety stages of the republic. But such novelties have a way of dying very suddenly, and remaining extraordinarily dead, and when the shimmy passed out Mae checked out with it, and was no more seen.
• • To the Workhouse • •
• • Leonard Hall noted: A year or two ago, out of the mist of obscurity, came a new Mae West. She came slam banging to Broadway with a show called "Sex," which ran for months here on the strength of heavy patronage by curious flappers and cake-eaters. At last the censors clamped down on Mae's piece of drama and, after a court trial, the writer-star was sent to the workhouse for 10 days. A little thing like a term in the hoosegow didn't slow Mae. In no time at all she was back in the ring with another affair called "The Drag." Next came "This Wicked Age" [sic], another typical Mae West torch.  . . .
• • This lengthy drama review by Leonard Hall will be continued tomorrow.
• • Source: Syndicated review "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" written by Leonard Hall rpt in The Scranton Republican (Scranton, PA); published on Monday, 16 April 1928. 
• • About the song sheet: By July 1928, on the grounds that this show tune cost too much, Mae had scrapped the theme song "Diamond Lil," which had been written for the April 1928 premiere by a Mark Linder ally, Robert Sterling. She substituted an older royalty-free song "Heart of the Bowery."
• • On Monday, 16 April 1928 • •
• • This is from Carl Van Vechten's journal entry for Monday, 16 April 1928. Van Vechten wrote: I read proofs all the morning. Lunch in ... Then to see Mae West in "Diamond Lil," which I adored. Miss West is marvelous. Saw Edna Ferber between acts.
• • Source: "The Splendid Drunken Twenties: Selections from the Daybooks, 1922 — 1930" by Carl Van Vechten.
• • On Wednesday, 16 April 1947 in The L.A. Times • •
• • "Court Tilt Won by Mae West" was the headline in The Los Angeles Times on 16 April 1947. Two authors had sued Mae West and Mike Todd over the authorship of "Catherine Was Great."
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West will revive ’’The Drag” — — the controversial play she wrote in the early 1930s [sic] — — after her Sahara engagement in Las Vegas, announced Hollywood columnist Erskine Johnson (on 6 January 1955).
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "A girl asked me what to do because she's in love but the boy won't pay her any mind. She's wasting her time.  If the boy doesn't recognize love when he sees it, he isn't worth recognizing himself."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The newspapers in Cootamundra, Australia mentioned Mae West.
• • "Mae West — In Town Tonight" • •    
• • Mae West, the famous American film star, broadcasting in the British Broadcasting Corporation's magazine programme "In Town Tonight."
• • Miss West is not at all like the woman she portrays in "Diamond Lil," at present running successfully at London's Prince of Wales's Theatre.  She neither drinks or smokes. Off-stage she has an ordinary voice, minus all the sibilance and huskiness that has made her "come up and see me sometime" invitation so memorable.
• • Miss West began her stage career when she was five. And she had finished her education by the time she was ten years old. At fourteen years old, she was playing parts onstage and she wore cut velvet gowns and sashayed about the stage in the slinking fashion that has since become world famous. She knows the type of vehicle that best suits her and now writes her own plays.
• • Mae West is perhaps the only actress to have given her name to an article of service dress, the inflatable life-jacket that airmen wore to keep themselves afloat in the sea and which Is highly reminiscent of her generous curves.  . . .
• • Source:  Article in Cootamundra Daily Herald (NSW); published on Monday, 7 June 1948
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2893rd 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 in April 1928

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