Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Mae West: Brazen Little Imp

An article mentioned MAE WEST — — and her relationship with "Handsome Hal" Clarendon.
• • In 1907, when Hal Clarendon accepted Mae into his Brooklyn stock company [incorporated by 15 April 1907 when Mae was 13 years old], it was because he "respected Mae's connections" to a handsome mobster who would be brutally gunned down by a crime boss five years later on West 43rd Street (just east of Broadway).
• • Church Socials Launched Mae West on Her Amazing Theatrical Career • •
• • Mae West, Filmland's Latest Idol, Looks Back to the Days She was a Little Imp • •
• • Note:  Mae was 13 years old when she joined Hal Clarendon in 1907 — — though she tells the interviewer she was only 6.
• • Hal Clarendon, therefore, signed her to what film producers today would call "a long term contract,"  not as an intermission entertainer but as a full fledged  member of his company. But don't think of little Mae, then six years old, as  a cute, curly-headed, darling little child actress. She was just as different then from the average girl of her years.  
• • He billed himself as "Handsome Hal" and Mae remembered him as something of a premium ham, an aging juvenile with a mane and a bass voice. He preferred the classics, but he used enough hokum to keep Brooklyn buying tickets.
• • Her first professional appearance took place with the Clarendon Stock Company at the Gotham Theatre in East New York.  The young teen was the little daughter who cried out "Father, dear father, come home with me now," in "Ten Nights in a Bar Room."
• • As Little Eva she often took the piano-wire route to heaven in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," playing, as a matter of fact, a large repertoire of child roles in the good old days — "Little Lord Fauntleroy," "The Moonshiner's Daughter," "East Lynne" and "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch."
• • As a member of the stock company, when there were no child parts in the plays, she was called upon to take part in what are known in old-fashioned plays as "olios," or vaudeville acts in between the scenes of the plays. She sang popular songs and gave her imitations, being what was known on the billboards as a "coon shouter."
• • Mae's Own Description • •
• • Mae concedes that  she was a willful, temperamental young spitfire.  She got her own way or else.  I was a brazen little imp, Mae reminisces, and could never keep out of trouble.  My professional career almost came to an untimely end during the first week I went to work. Hal Clarendon was the idol of the neighborhood, and acted just about that way backstage.  He had a rigid rule that nobody could enter his dressing room.  He declared that would bring bad luck.  One day Clarendon came back to the theater after a tough night out, and was taking a nap on a couch In his dressing room. I heard him snoring in there, making a racket.  I sneaked into his room and, as he slept, I painted a red nose and mustache on his face with grease paint.  You have never seen such a commotion as when he woke up.  You'd think I had broken The Ten Commandments to hear the bawling out I got. 
• • "A Way" Even Then • •
• •  That even back then Mae seemed to have a way with men, and the temperamental Clarendon forgave her and Mae was permitted to remain with the troupe.  . . .
• • Source: Article: "Church Socials Launched Mae West" rpt in Urbana Daily Courier; published on Saturday, 9 December 1933.
• • On Wednesday, 9 December 1936 • •
• • The Evening News printed an article about the legal proceedings between Mae West and her former husband Frank Wallace on 9 December 1936.
• • In December 1957 • •
• • In December 1957, Mae West announced she was working on her autobiography "Queen of Sex." The movie queen hinted that it would be full of stories about Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay. (Spoiler alert: it was not.)
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • The nickname for one popular breed was “bronze Mae West,” according to Modern Farmer, but the industry eventually agreed on calling them broad breasted bronze.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I didn't want to tell Hal Clarendon I'd done this all just for old times. I hated to let anybody know I was that mushy."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Deadline mentioned Mae West one year ago.
• • On Monday, 9 December 2013, Deadline reported that Bette Midler was slated to play Mae West for HBO.
• • HBO Films has put in development "Mae West," a movie about the Hollywood icon, with Bette Midler attached to star and executive produce. William Friedkin will direct and executive produce.  ...
• • Source: Item in Deadline; published on Monday, 9 December 2013
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •    
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this past decade. Yesterday we entertained 1,430 visitors. 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3066th 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 1915

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  Mae West

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