Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Mae West Rehabilitated Verses

MAE WEST sang "Frankie and Johnny" in Diamond Lil, inspiring the son of Walter Huston.
• • "Drawing Room Ballad" • •
• • Deming Seymour wrote:  The old Frankie and Johnny song has become a popular ditty among sophisticates in the last year or two.  A Broadway producer has been trying to shape up a melodrama based upon it, Mae West crooned some rehabilitated verses of it as Diamond Lil, and a Columbia professor has translated it into German.
• • Deming Seymour continued:  But nobody seems to know where it came from or exactly how old it is, although Sandburg and Sigmund Spaeth both treat of it in their volumes on American folk music .  Some say it originated along the Mississippi, others that it was once a negro folksong, still others that it was first a Texas cowboy song brought up from the southwest by herdsmen along the cattle trails. There are dozens of versions, but all have basically the same tune and the same theme of the girl who shot her man for double-crossing her, and was hanged for it.  And in all its variations, it has the refrain "For he was my man, but he done me wrong."
• • Deming Seymour explained:  John Huston, whose father is the actor Walter Huston, has done with more than ordinary talent a good many things for a youth of 22. He is a painter and sculptor, and he has trouped on the stage like his dad.
• • Deming Seymour added:  John Huston has in the last stages of rehearsal at a garret studio on Bank Street, in Greenwich Village, a marionette version of Frankie and Johnny, that venerable story-to-music of the lady who loved too well.  He fashioned the puppets for the piece, built and decorated the miniature stage they occupy, wrote the dialog, and is directing the production.  . . .
• • Source: Item in "A New Yorker at Large" for The Daily Illini; published on Sunday, 3 November 1929.
• • On Friday, 4 November 1927 • •
• • Mae West could not have been thrilled during November 1927. The New York Times planted a bitter raspberry with their review of "The Wicked Age," her latest play (published on Saturday, 5 November 1927). Written by Mae West, age 34, and her long-time collaborator, the production opened at Daly's 63rd Street Theatre on Friday evening, 4 November 1927 — — and lasted for merely nineteen performances.
• • On Wednesday, 4 November 1931 • •
• • After enormous effort, on Wednesday, 4 November 1931 the final curtain came down at the Royale Theatre on "The Constant Sinner" starring and written by Mae West.
• • Set in Harlem, the play opened on 14 September 1931 and ran for 64 performances on Broadway.
• • On Friday, 4 November 1932 • •
• • The Los Angeles Times reported that the Hayes Office did not approve of "Diamond Lil" as a screenplay, however, Mae West would be starring in a new picture "Honky-Tonk." A few weeks later, on Friday, 4 November 1932, readers learned that project had been scrapped.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Her take-off on Eva Tanguay, the unrestrained, hippy favorite of soldiers, sailors, college boys and tired business men of that day, invariably won her the greatest applause. It practically gave Mae West her start in show business.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "I won't drink Los Angeles water — — it's terrible.  I only drink bottled water." 
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Columbia Daily Spectator mentioned Mae West.
• • "Rally for Grid Team" • •
• • The NYC editors wrote:  From the Cornell Club at 38th Street and Madison Avenue, the hilarious gang proceeded to Mae West's theatre [where "Diamond Lil" was playing], then to the Paramount Grill, uncorking vigorous cheers at each stop. Then returning to the Campus with enthusiasm unabated the men treated the Barnard girls to some cheers and concluded with a "Good Night, Ladies." Then to John Jay Hall where the rallyites reluctantly dispersed, happy in the thought of a good job well done.
• • Source: Item in Columbia Daily Spectator; published on Saturday, 3 November 1928
• • 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 3040th 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 1928

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