Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Mae West: Dark Secret

MAE WEST's legacy and heritage were discussed in a review published in England over ten years ago in early October.  Let's tiptoe backwards and investigate.
• • "Mae's Dark Secret" • •
• • "Jill Watts's biography of Mae West puts a surprisingly different complexion on a screen legend" • •
• • Anthony Holden wrote: Before Mae West's death in 1980, at the age of 87, there were rumours of a dark, deep secret which would be revealed only posthumously. The received wisdom, based in part on the drag-act appeal of her screen persona, was that she had really been a man. Watts authoritatively dismisses this on page one as an unworthy canard: 'Her death certificate, signed by a physician and an undertaker, confirms that she was all woman.' But she spends the next 373 pages insinuating another deep, dark secret in its place: that whiter-than-white Mae West was really black.
• • Anthony Holden wrote:  Professor Jill Watts adduces no genealogical evidence for this startling claim, beyond the fact that the 'ethnicity' of West's paternal grandfather, a hardy seafarer named John Edwin West, is 'harder to pinpoint' than those of her other three 'undisputedly European' grandparents. ...
• • Source: Book Review written by Anthony Holden for The Observer [U.K.];  published on Saturday, 6 October 2001.
• • On Friday, 7 October 1932 • •
• • On Friday, 7 October 1932, The N. Y. Times reported the dramatic changes in Mae West's career. Though the critical reception of "Night after Night" was lukewarm, Mae West was a whole sultry sideshow unto herself, preventing the reviewers from dozing off when she was onscreen.  Paramount signed Mae to a generous contract on October 6th.
• • On Saturday, 7 October 1933 • •
• • Motion Picture Herald published a review of "I'm No Angel" in their issue dated for Saturday, 7 October 1933.  The piece was signed by their staffwriter McCarthy.
• • On Saturday, 7 October 1933 • •
• • It was on Saturday, 7 October 1933 when Mae recorded "They Call Me Sister Honky Tonk" for the Brunswick label.  The song was written for the motion picture "I'm No Angel."
• • On Saturday, 7 October 1933 • •
• • Marie Beynon Ray wrote an article about Mae West's influence on fashions — — "Curves Ahead" — — for Colliers Magazine. It ran in the issue dated for 7 October 1933.  And a review of "I'm No Angel" appeared in Motion Picture Herald (page 38) in the issue dated for 7 October 1933.
• • On Monday, 7 October 1935 • •
• • "I saw both pictures myself and they are definitely wrong," wrote Joe Breen to Will Hays on Monday, 7 October 1935.  This was the reason he gave to Paramount when he denied permission to re-release two hits starring Mae West distributed in 1933 to a blitz of ticket sales.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Hollywood — October: The Frank Lloyd production "Maid of Salem" starring Claudette Colbert; Mae West in "Personal Appearance," an Emanuel Cohen production; "Queen of the Jungle" with Raymond Milland.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I'm a pretty good observer myself. I like to study character, especially where men are concerned. I've got a reputation for that."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Daily Illini mentioned Mae West.
• • "The Lady Lou Influence" • •
• • . . . Then on Wednesday this department store mannequin satisfied the public eye by appearing in one of these new Mae West formals, with a removable jacket with a high, high collared neck, shirred shoulders, pocket elbow sleeves and slitback. When the jacket was removed, the matelasse material appeared straight and slinky in line with nothing in the way of a back.  ...
• • Source: Item in The Daily Illini; published on Friday, 6 October 1933
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •    
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this past decade. The other day we entertained 1,223 visitors. 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3020th 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 Hollywood

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