Neither MAE WEST nor Bette Davis spent a lot of time organizing a "hen party" for close female friends. Both of these Broadway broads turned Hollywood icons preferred to socialize with men, ideally the young, handsome, flattering kind.
• • It's not really surprising that their paths did not cross since Mae was under contract by Paramount Pictures and Bette had signed with Warner Bros., a studio fond of scripts that swirled around current events, crime, commerce, or politics and did not have a long roster of female stars. However, one night in West Hollywood the screen queens met in 1973 — —and their conversation was secretly taped by a bartender.
• • "When Bette Met Mae" Chronicles the First Meeting, in WeHo, of Two of Hollywood’s Most Independent Female Stars • •
• • The WeHoVille Staff wrote: For all their prominence in the then-small world of Hollywood of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties (well before the era of reality TV shows and celebutantes in which everyone has 15 minutes of fame), Bette Davis and Mae West never managed to meet until a night in 1973 at the home of a West Hollywood antiques dealer. “When Bette Met Mae” is a film that chronicles their first encounter, with the conversation taped that night by Wes Wheadon, a West Hollywood optometrist who was tending bar. [The film was being screened for the first time on 27 March 2015 at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers.]
• • “I had purchased a cassette tape recorder, and I brought it along with my Polaroid camera,” Wes Wheadon told the WeHoVille Staff reporters. “I showed it to Bette and said it would be fun to record Mae’s voice. Everyone agreed, so I turned it on and let it run for the two hours that cocktails were served.
• • “What I captured was a priceless conversation from the two ladies who seemed eager to learn about the other’s life. Questions from Mae’s two male escorts to Bette kept her going — — some got her really riled up, and Bette asked a ton of questions about Mae’s life. It was a slice of Hollywood History that no one has ever heard.” Wheadon said the conversation covered their history in Hollywood, censorship, contracts, the actors union, their USO appearances during World War II, writing scripts, film rights, and payment of residuals and the people who had impersonated them (drag performers such as Charles Pierce and Craig Russell.) “Mae discussed her many famous boyfriends, Bette her four husbands and children,” Wheadon said. “Bette talked about her relationship with Joan Crawford during ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,’ and Bette clearly didn’t care for ‘Crawford’ — — as she called her).”
• • “The film only covers what was discussed that night," said Wheadon • •
• • Wes Wheadon said that Laura and Larry Worchell, the film’s executive producers, suggested created an historical documentary using the audio tape and still photos that he took that night. “A film was shot using look-alike actors and a restored sound-tape of the recording made that night. After five minutes of watching, the actors and hearing the real voices of Bette and Mae dubbed in, you cannot tell the actors aren’t really Bette and Mae. I’ve been told this technique of a ‘reverse dub’ has never been done like this before.”
• • The look-alike actresses: Victoria Mills as Mae West, Karen Teliha as Bette Davis.
• • Source: Article: "‘When Bette Met Mae’ Chronicles the First Meeting, in WeHo, of Two of Hollywood’s Most Independent Female Stars" written by WeHoVille Staff; published on Saturday, 7 March 2015.
• • On Tuesday, 10 April 1928 in The N.Y. Times • •
• • The New York Times reported on "Diamond Lil" on 10 April 1928 on page 32. The review carried this headline and a sub-title: "'DIAMOND LIL' IS LURID AND OFTEN STIRRING" and "Mae West's Melodrama at the Royale Suffers From a Bad Third Act."
• • Opposite the coverage on page 33 was a small advertisement for the play at the Royale Theatre.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • While manager of the Warner Strand in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Mr. Hendricks won a nationwide exploitation contest on the first Mae West picture. The reward was a trip to Hollywood and a meeting with Miss West.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "We went to all the shows and we talked about nothin' but what I was going to be."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The N.Y. Times discussed "Diamond Lil" and Mae West.
• • "'Diamond Lil' Is Lurid and Often Stirring — — "Mae West's Melodrama at the Royale Suffers From a Bad Third Act" • •
• • Drama critic Brooks Atkinson emphasized: And oh, yes — — sex. Miss West has a fine and direct way of approaching that subject that is almost Elizabethan. If you can stay in the theatre, you are likely to enjoy it.
• • Brooks Atkinson concluded: That goes, as a matter of fact, for the entire play, including a profanation of "Frankie and Johnny," sung by Miss West herself.
• • Source: Drama Review by Brooks Atkinson for The N.Y. Times; published on Tuesday, 10 April 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 1,430 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 3154th blog post.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1928 • •
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