Was MAE WEST the greatest star? Columnist Liz Smith wrote: She certainly thought so!
• • This is the first part of Liz Smith's very lengthy reflection on the Brooklyn bombshell.
• • Liz Smith explained: In mentioning Mae West the other day and her famous quote (usually misquoted) from "She Done Him Wrong," it occurred to me that Mae, of all the sex symbols, indeed perhaps of all great female stars, was the most self-assured, satisfied and complete.
• • Liz Smith continued: Mae began in vaudeville and honed her act for decades as a scandalous denizen of Broadway. She "wrote" plays such as "The Pleasure Man" and "Sex" and even spent a few days in jail — — much to the profit of her image. "Diamond Lil" — — again ostensibly penned by West — — was her big Broadway hit in 1928. After twenty-plus years of hard work, Mae was fully established, but that was New York. Outside of the Rialto, Mae West was essentially unknown when she finally arrived in Hollywood — — "fat, fair and forty," as the ever-kind Louella Parsons noted.
• • Liz Smith noted: Mae West landed in L.A. and immediately behaved as if the Hollywood community should be grateful that such a star would deign to travel, um — — West. Soon the community was grateful. Her bit in "Night After Night" was a small sensation in 1932. (The movie contained the first of her many quips, "Goodness had nothing to do with it.") The film adaptation of "Diamond Lil," renamed "She Done Him Wrong," was a big sensation the following year, as was the follow-up "I'm No Angel." (Both co-starring an awkward Cary Grant, looking as if he had no idea why he was flattering and making love to the portly Miss West.) Mae was credited with saving Paramount Studios from bankruptcy.
• • Mae's total belief in herself • •
• • Liz Smith added: Mae was not beautiful. Mae was not slim. (No "other standard" existed by the time movies were so popular in the early 20th century. Stars who were not always slender were always criticized — — Mae, Marilyn, Liz.) But what set Mae apart, what made her obvious shortcoming as a sex symbol evaporate, was her total belief in herself. Mae West behaved as if she was indeed the world's most beautiful woman. Not only that, she depended on no man to tell her she was beautiful — — or to tell her anything! . . .
• • Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.
• • Source: Article by Liz Smith for Boston Herald; published on Tuesday, 30 September 2014.
• • On Saturday, 13 October 1928 • •
• • On 13 October 1928, an item appeared in Billboard Magazine (on page 42) discussing how the NYC police had padlocked Mae's second homosexual play "Pleasure Man." Billboard used the occasion of Mae's latest legal trouble to condemn her play, describing the script that focused on men in love as "an abomination."
• • Billboard wrote: "Pleasure Man" is prostitution of the rankest sort, a flagrant attempt to capitalize filth and degeneracy and cash in on the resultant cheap publicity.
• • On Thursday, 13 October 1932 • •
• • During mid-October in 1932, Mae's jewel robbery was on the front page. One headline "Diamond Lil Robbed of Jewels" ran in the Omaha-Bee News on Thursday, 13 October 1932. This terrifying crime occurred just months after Mae had relocated to Los Angeles, California to be in the speakeasy film "Night After Night" with George Raft.
• • On Sunday, 13 October 1968 • •
• • On Sunday, 13 October 1968, The N.Y. Times printed a dispatch from journalist Mark Shivas with this headline: "Fellini's Back, and Mae West's Got Him!"
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West and W. C. Fields are teamed for the first time in Universal's comedy, "My Little Chickadee," described by The Film Daily, as "all lusty life," with Mae bringing new life to the old West of buffaloes and Indians. Mae and Bill wrote the original story and screenplay and have had a field day. The film opens a three-day run today at the Rex.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "When you make the right demands, the studios are delighted."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Film Daily mentioned Mae West.
• • "Nadel Joins Emanuel Cohen" • •
• • Joe Nadel, president of Associated Assistant Directors in New York, has been appointed general production manager for Emanuel Cohen, leaving for Hollywood on Friday to assume offices at the General Service Studios. He will work on a Bing Crosby feature, Cohen production for Paramount, and a Mae West feature. Nadel has been active in eastern production for the past 15 years.
• • Source: Item in The Film Daily; published on Wednesday, 20 May 1936
• • 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 3024th blog post.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1932 • •
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