Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mae West: Church Socials

MAE WEST told John Moffitt that her first audiences were people who came to visit her mother. His interview captured many fascinating details that escaped other journalists — — such as how Tillie would discipline little Mae.
• • During 1934, a number of journalists had scored a detailed one-on-one interview with the movie queen. Ruth Biery's 3-part-article is the one most often quoted by Mae's biographers, therefore, best known.
• • But by far, the sexiest and most revealing is the lengthy interview she gave to John Moffitt. Journalist and columnist John Moffitt went on to serve as Ed Sullivan's assistant director, when Sullivan (once a news man, too) transitioned to TV.
• • John Moffitt must have been very handsome, you think as you read all the juicy bits he scooped up, like Mae's affair with a NYC schoolteacher who would keep his willing blue-eyed pupil after class, call her a "naughty girl," pull her onto his lap, and administer a "punishment" that got them both overheated. Was this the teacher who initiated Mae's first intimate encounter? Hmmm.
• • "Mae West's First Audiences Were Church Socials" • •
• • John C. Moffitt Tells the Story of Mae West • •
• • John C. Moffitt wrote: Mae West's mother had never read those sections in the magazines that are headed "What to Do When Company Comes." So her methods of entertainment were bizarre and it was all some of the guests could do to stomach them.
• • John C. Moffitt continued: As soon as the callers were comfortably settled in the parlour, little Mae was called in to do her imitations. At first, little Mae, who usually had been hiding in the dining room scrupulously studied the callers, would merely imitate her audience.  If a woman had been funny about her rubbers or about handing up her coat, little Mae would bounce in and mimic her fit6 to kill! Oddly enough, this did not always go over so big. It was necessary for the child to acquire a more professional repertoire.
• • At the Age of Three • •
• • John C. Moffitt observed: Mrs. Matilda West seems to have been one of those women, not uncommon in her generation, who regarded the stage as the height of all human aspirations. As soon as Mrs. West noted that little Mae had golden hair and an assertive personality, she encouraged her in all the little smartnesses that might mean theatrical talent. When Mae was three, the family and the neighborhood had been subjugated by her mother into a more or less stoical audience.
• • John C. Moffitt explained:  That was what was in the mother's mind when she kept saying, "Let her alone. She's different," every time her husband wanted to slap the little prodigy's ears.  Mae was to be a public institution.   . . .
• • This is Part 1. The article will continue tomorrow.
• • Source:  The Straits Times (Singapore); published on Sunday, 25 November 1934.
• • On Saturday, 25 November 1911 in Variety • •
• • The opening night cast of  "Vera Violetta" at the Winter Garden did not include the misbehaving  and Gaby-upstaging Mae West. Her antics during the out-of-town try-outs brought about her dismissal. Variety (perhaps without knowing it) printed a face-saving explanation in their issue dated for Saturday, 25 November 1911, indicating Mae had pneumonia. Hmmm, no doubt brought about by standing in an icy draft when Gaby Deslys opened her mouth wide and blasted her.
• • On Tuesday, 25 November 1947 in Australia • •
• • Australia's Savoy Theatre announced "Maurice Chevalier, Mae West now showing together on the same programme!! We have turned back the clock and from 1934 have brought you the Happiest Entertainment of 1934 — — Maurice Chevalier, Jeannette MacDonald, Charlie Ruggles in "One Hour With You" and also Mae West, Cary Grant, Edward Arnold in "I'm No Angel" now at these times . . .
• • Source: The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday, 25 November 1947.
• • On Thursday, 25 November 1943 in NYC • •
• • Bouquets did not shower Mae West after her film "The Heat Is On" was released right before Christmas in December 1943. Trading on The Big Apple's fondness for the Brooklyn bombshell, this ill-fated project had a special New York City premiere on Thursday, 25 November 1943.
• • On Tuesday, 23 November 1980 • •
• • A private service for Mae West was held in the Old North Church replica, in Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, on Tuesday, 25 November 1980.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West arrived in Hollywood on a "coffee and cakes" contract.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "I hear Marilyn and Jane are tryin' to build themselves up with their sex appeal. Well, they haven*t got what it takes. They're artificial. They haven't arrived yet."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The  Motion Picture Herald mentioned Mae West.
• • "Goin' to Town" starring Mae West — While this was not the production of "Belle of the Nineties," this did better for us at the box-office. Only thing I might suggest was that there was too much Mae West.  — — wrote Ivan W. Rowley, proprietor, Ward Theatre, Pismo Beach, California.
• • Source: Item in Motion Picture Herald;  published on Saturday, 6 July 1935 
• • 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 3056th 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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• • Mae West in 1908

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