MAE WEST was responsible for getting William Demarest into the screen trade. Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1892, the actor told the story to newspaper readers in July 1968. Let's hear all the details in his own words.
• • William Demarest [27 February 1892 — 28 December 1983] • •
• • As told to Bob Thomas by William Demarest.
• • [Bob Thomas noted: William Demarest has been In the movie business for a long time — not as long as his own estimate — and has become a familiar face on the late, late shows as well as in his continuing character of Uncle Charlie in CBS’ “My Three Sons,” which he assumed when the late William Frawley became ill. And the lady known as “Diamond Lil” started it all and until now, she never knew it.]
• • HOLLYWOOD (AP) — Looking back on my 753 years in show business, I guess I would have to credit Mae West for getting me into films —— although she’d never heard of me at the time. It was a long, long time ago — — well before there was such a thing as television.
• • There I was in Chicago about 35 years ago, starring in my own one-hour stage revue at the Palace Theater. Spyros Skouras, the movie magnate who, at that time, was the head of a chain of theaters in St. Louis, came backstage one night and offered me $5,000 to take my act into one of his theaters after I had closed in Chicago. Need I say I accepted?
• • When I showed up at the theater in St. Louis on the appointed day, I noticed a long line outside the box office waiting to buy tickets, and I thought, “Oh great, I’m doing fine business!” So, feeling good, I went backstage, and the stage manager said absentmindedly, “Oh, yeah, Demarest — — you got 11 minutes.” Before I could find out what was going on, he walked off. No one backstage told me anything else — — just, “Yeah, Demarest — —11 minutes.”
• • By then I was pretty sore at this kind of casual reception, so I stormed into the manager’s office to tell him who I was and I demanded to know what was going on. He said, “Oh, yeah, Demarest — — you have 11 minutes.”
• • "I looked up at the marquee ..." • •
• • I couldn’t believe what was happening. I walked outside to check the billing on the marquee to make sure I was in the right place. I noticed that the line for tickets was now halfway down the next block. I looked up at the marquee and all it said was “Mae West in ‘She Done Him Wrong.’ ”
• • To be continued on our next post . . .
• • Source: Hollywood column written by Bob Thomas, AP Movie-Television Writer rpt in Wilmington News-Journal (Wilmington, Ohio); published on Friday, 12 July 1968.
• • On Wednesday, 11 July 1934 • •
• • Mae West was discussed in the article "What's Wrong with the Movies?" written by Dan Thomas, NEA Services Staff Correspondent, a syndicated feature reprinted on page 1 of the Hope Star on Wednesday, 11 July 1934.
• • Dan Thomas wrote: Famous for her New York characterization of Diamond Lil, Mae West came to the movies. The result was "She Done Him Wrong," a picture which, though low in tone, contained such excellent characterizations that it not only drew few objections but it created a sort of vogue. ...
• • On Tuesday, 11 July 2006 • •
• • The CD "Fabulous Mae West and Other Wonderful Girls" features a photo of Mae on its cover. Sepia Records released this collection on Tuesday, 11 July 2006.
• • Save the Date: Wednesday, August 13th • •
• • Wednesday, 13 August 2014 will be the next Mae West Tribute in Manhattan and the event will start at 6:30 pm at 425 Sixth Avenue. The theme will be: "Mae West in Bohemia — — Gin, Sin, Censorship, and Eugene O'Neill."
• • Details:
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • The lady who writes her screen plays propped up on pillows in a swan-like bed was still reported today to be at some unidentified springs.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I never married Frank Wallace or anyone else. I was a school girl in 1911, too young to marry. I can't have done it."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article in a movie magazine discussed Mae West.
• • "Mae West Buys Race Horse" • •
• • Markesan, Wis. — — Mae West, screen star, has purchased Elizabeth Heberling, trotter, from Dr. D. R. Edwards, local veterinarian. For the present the horse will remain in the Edwards stables and will tour the race circuits next year with the rest of his racers.
• • Source: Item written for Film Daily; published on Tuesday, 30 October 1934
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this past decade.
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2955th blog post.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1933 • •
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