Celebrities were flocking to Palm Springs to see MAE WEST in her new act in March 1959. Composer Jimmy McHugh was there. In 1935, he and lyricist Dorothy Fields had collaborated on "I’m in the Mood for Love" and Mae West recorded their hit in 1944, with an orchestra directed by Sy Oliver.
• • Mae West and The Chi Chi Starlite • •
• • Irwin Schuman first opened The Chi Chi Starlite in 1941 as a fancy Polynesian-style restaurant and bar. The interior design incorporated a stylized recreation of palm-thatched roofs, tapa cloth, and velvet backdrops. Popular with movie stars and wealthy couples, the supper club kept expanding. A motorized velvet curtain was customized for their circular stage in the main arena, The Blue Room. In the Starlite Room itself, completed in 1950, Bill Alexander's band accompanied decades of headliners. A crowd of 800 could be accommodated.
• • According to Palm Springs Life: The entertainment certainly didn’t come cheap. Milton Berle was paid $40,000 for a one-week engagement. Ray Bolger earned $20,000. Danny Thomas was offered $15,000, but turned it down. Liberace, who was only starting out, collected $1,500 a week playing Chopin in the club’s Persian Room.
• • Palm Springs Life continued: The Chi Chi took some big risks. Mae West’s campy nightclub act consisted of six bulging musclemen parading around the spot-lit stage in leopard-skin loincloths, while black comedienne Louise Beavers, dressed in a maid’s uniform, served tea to West, who reclined enticingly on a chaise lounge covered in eiderdown. Cary Grant raved about the show for weeks. Ann Sheridan also was a big fan.
• • On Wednesday, 18 March 1959, The Desert Sun wrote: Circus Time at The Chi Chi was Sunday night when almost everybody in show business dropped in at the club's Starlite Room to watch Mae West go into her new act. From left. Jimmy McHugh, Louella Parsons, Miss West, and Merwyn Leroy. Mae's chorus line — — composed of musclemen — — drew lots of comments from boys and girls in the audience.
• • Source: Desert Sun caption; published on Wednesday, 18 March 1959.
• • On Wednesday, 18 March 1936 • •
• • Variety reviewed "Klondike Annie," calling the motion picture "chic" and starting the critique on the front page. But the stern-faced man-on-the-aisle objected to several elements therein. "Miss West is handicapped by having to wear rather dowdy dresses in about half the footage. In other portions she struts fine feathers and wears a set of furs that will make the women gasp," he commented on page 17. Variety Magazine's issue was dated for Wednesday, 18 March 1936.
• • On Saturday, 18 March 1939 in Brooklyn • •
• • "Mae West Heads New Show at Fox Stage, Screen" • •
• • Herbert Corn wrote: Last night was the original, the vivacious, glamorous and curvaceous Mae West, whose hip-swinging drew a standing line to the Fox Brooklyn Theatre at 9 A.M. yesterday to wait an hour and a half for the doors to open. It was the Mae West of "come up see me sometime" days that they came here to applaud. It was the legendary Mae West, who cautions you gals that "it ain't the men in your life that count — — it's the life in your men." Catherine the Great was nowhere in sight. She wasn't even mentioned. No one even thought of her.
• • Herbert Corn continued: The original Mae West, with six chorus boys as her foils and Milton Watson to assist her In a romantic skit, clicked at the Fox. What she does is even older. But Flatbush Avenue, both downtown and uptown, were there to greet her. The crowds at the Brooklyn Fox reflected not only their fascination with La West but also how she says it and the way she does it, ...
• • Source: Article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle; published on Saturday, 18 March 1939.
• • In the March 2000 issue of The New Criterion • •
• • The New Criterion published the article "Mae Days" by Mark Steyn (Vol. 18, March 2000). Mark Steyn wrote: "But quite a lot of Mae West is going quite a long way on the New York stage these days. It’s been twenty years since her death, almost seventy since her career peaked, and, on a random sample, I find most people today have no very clear idea who she was. Yet she’s out there . . . ."
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Here are two stars we would like to see teamed up — — Mae West and James Cagney. There's dynamite in that idea!
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: ''A man in the house is worth two in the street.''
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A Singapore newspaper reprinted a long article about Mae West and her father.
• • Mae West, in the great tradition of the business that has been her life, recently paid highest tribute to the memory of her father.
• • "Fighting Jack" West died. His heart stopped while he slept. . . .
• • Source: Article (P. 4): "In the Mae West Tradition" rpt in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser; published on Monday, 18 March 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 1,430 visitors. We reached a
milestone recently when we completed 3,100 blog posts. Wow!
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3137th blog post.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Chi Chi in 1959 • •
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