Everyone has an opinion of MAE WEST. And some men exist solely to make comments that bring a woman down. Let's see Mae's reaction to Tommy Thompson's ill considered (i.e., undiplomatic) candor.
• • This is the final part of Liz Smith's very lengthy reflection on the Brooklyn bombshell.
• • "Was Mae West the greatest star?" • •
• • Liz Smith recalled: Mae never acknowledged age or other sex symbols — — as Raquel Welch learned on the set of West's penultimate film, 1970's "Myra Breckenridge." And why should she? At the New York premiere of "Myra" thousands gathered to mob Mae. The film was a flop, but in her mind, she had triumphed. It was at this time that the star gave an interview to the well-known Life reporter Tommy Thompson. He fatally described Mae as "short."
• • Liz Smith wrote: Mae complained to the famous PR woman Pat Newcomb. "Why did he say — — why did he write that 'Mae is short'?" Miss Newcomb, who knew from dealing with the irrationality of stars, never got the chance to answer. Mae concluded "... because he's a s--t, that's why!"
• • Many men — — Mae preferred boxers or bodybuilders • •
• • Liz Smith emphasized: There were no children, one ancient marriage [sic], and no self-abuse. She existed as "Mae West" — — the Mae West she and a few clever others fashioned way back when vaudeville critics called her "vulgar" and predicted a swift end to her career. There were many men — — she preferred boxers or bodybuilders. (For the last 26 years of her life, she had a companion in Paul Novak, but it was all fairly private.) There were no movie star romances. She rarely socialized. Miss West didn't want any kind of competition. She cocooned herself, praised herself, believed in herself.
• • Liz Smith pointed out: Unlike Marlene Dietrich, there was no publicly expressed bitterness. No total seclusion. And no kiddies sharper than a serpent's tooth to upend the myth.
• • Liz Smith observed: The only two modern stars who remind me of Mae are Barbra Streisand and Madonna. However, they have both sought to "understand" their egos and drives, to occasionally put the brakes on total self-absorption, or at least they want to believe that. Mae West didn't feel the need to examine her ego or even pretend to.
• • Liz Smith added: Mae's end came fairly quickly — — complications from a stroke at age 87 (or whatever — — she tended to blur her actual date of birth). Not long before, she had gone to dinner with friends and though a bit vague at first, she came to vibrant life when asked about "the old days." She not only talked, she got up, sang and performed the skits and bits that had made her famous. She lived in her own head, in her own world, with enough money to evade pesky realities and enough sense to avoid the parasites who attach themselves to the rich, famous, and aging.
• • Liz Smith summarized: In many ways, Miss Mae West was the greatest star. Certainly, I think, the happiest. Her own sense of herself was never challenged. We should all be so lucky.
• • This concludes the Mae West article written by columnist by Liz Smith, excerpted in 3 installments.
• • Source: Article by Liz Smith for Boston Herald; published on Tuesday, 30 September 2014.
• • On Wednesday, 15 October 1941 • •
• • On Wednesday, 15 October 1941, Associated Press sent this news over the wire.
• • "Mae Asks Divorce From Suing Mate" • •
• • Associated Press wrote: San Bernardino — Mae West is going to ask a divorce from Frank Wallace, the man whom she married in Milwaukee in 1911.
• • Wallace's suit, demanding $3,000 monthly separate maintenance from the actress, has been transferred to Los Angeles county on motion of Miss West's attorney with the agreement of Wallace's counsel.
• • Mae's lawyer Kenneth Chauncey said she would file a corresponding suit to Wallace's demands, asking for a divorce.
• • Source: Bakersfield Californian (page 1); published on Wednesday, 15 October 1941.
• • On Friday, 15 October 1948 • •
• • Mae West wrote a check on Friday, 15 October 1948, made payable to Fred Dempsey Florist. In 1948, the sum of $20.60 would have purchased quite a splendid floral display.
• • On Thursday, 15 October 1959 • •
• • On Thursday, 15 October 1959, The Los Angeles Times printed an article by Cecil Smith: "Mae West Censored from New TV Show." CBS also cut Jack Webb from the same program.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Famous Hollywood movie director Robert Wise had two women on his mind when he was in Sydney recently — — fresh, sparkling Julie Andrews and famous temptress Mae West.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I was off the screen for awhile because just couldn’t find anything I wanted to do. Also there were years when my income tax was such that I would have ended up working for the government. And I was always busy doing plays and night clubs."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Vaudeville News mentioned Mae West's new act in October 1925.
• • "Vaudeville Personalities" • •
• • Paul Conlan has joined MAE WEST in her new act. It is described as a satire on the modern flapper and contains a cast of seven. Conlan's rise from a drummer in Ben Bernie's orchestra to the dignity of a comedian has been meteoric, but successful. Conlan has proved his aptitude for creating laughter and his friends are proud of his rapid advancement.
• • Source: Item in The Vaudeville News (1562 Broadway, New York City); published on Friday, 16 October 1925
• • 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 3026th blog post.
Unlike many blogs, which draw
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1954 • •
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