MAE WEST had some unpleasant encounters with A. Toxen Worm. One headline dated for Wednesday, 4 May 1921, read "Mae West Foiled by Toxen."
• • Yes, there really was a gentleman named A. Toxen Worm. Perhaps Mae was thinking of him when she wrote this line for "Belle of the Nineties" — — "Remember, I'm a lady, you worm." Though his Christian name was Conrad, he delighted in the odd pairing of his Danish surname "Worm" with his two middle names Aage and Toxen. No one could forget a sinister moniker like that.
• • Conrad Henrik Aage Toxen Worm [1866 — 12 January 1922] • •
• • Born in Denmark in 1866, at the turn of the century he was a press agent whose clients included the actor James O'Neill (father of Eugene). Worm emigrated to the USA. In 1910, the ambitious 44-year-old began working for the Shubert Brothers as a manager and a highly resourceful press agent. His command of English was fluent enough to enable Worm to write for the Shubert publication, New York Review.
• • In 1921, the officious 55-year-old bachelor was lying in wait for Mae West in Boston at the Shubert Theatre and there was a showdown. The Worm turned victorious.
• • In 1922, The New York Times announced the death of this unmarried man.
• • "A. Toxen Worm Dead; Well-Known Theatrical Agent Dies of Apoplexy in Paris" • •
• • The Times wrote: A. Toxen Worm, associated for twenty years with the Shubert theatrical enterprises, died Friday in Paris of apoplexy, according to word received yesterday by his counsel, Phelan Beale, in this city. He had gone abroad on a vacation, following a term in charge of the Shubert interests in Boston. Surviving are several brothers and a niece, Miss Ella Scheel of Copenhagen.
• • Source: The NY Times; published on 00day, 15 January 1922.
• • Come along as we revisit the scintillating scene of the shimmy that never was.
• • Boston Nearly Sees "Shimmy Dance" • •
• • "Mae West Foiled by Toxen Worm— Lights Turned Off" • •
• • Boston, May 4 — — Bostonians almost saw the "shimmy" for the first time at the Shubert Saturday night. The censors long ago put the ban on this dance and have kept it on, so that while it has often been promised, it has never been seen.
• • When the news got around among the members of the "Whirl of the Town" that the show was to close, Mae West, the dancer, passed the word around she was going to give those in the house one fine demonstration of the "shimmy" dance at the final performance.
• • A. Toxen Worm heard the report and, when the time drew near for this little piece of business, he took up a position near the light switches backstage.
• • When Mae was all set for the finale, Mr. Worm passed the word to the electrician and the stage was suddenly thrown into darkness. Mae may have "shimmied," but if she did she was the only one that knew about it. However, she was much Incensed and was on her way to complain to Worm — — when she discovered that he was the one who had foiled her.
• • Source: Item in Variety; published on Wednesday, 4 May 1921.
• • On Tuesday, 4 May 1886 • •
• • On Tuesday, 4 May 1886 the black composer Shelton Brooks was born. Mae and Beverly performed his dance novelty "Walking the Dog" when they toured with their act "Mae West and Sister." In her 1928 Bowery melodrama "Diamond Lil," Mae performed his jaunty song "Where Has My Easy Rider Gone?" and the number would be reprised in "She Done Him Wrong" [filmed in 1932].
• • On Saturday, 4 May 1935 • •
• • A Los Angeles Times columnist noted on Saturday, 4 May 1935, that the news about Mae West's secret marriage to Frank Wallace had "chased Hitler, the NRA, and the quintuplets off the front page of every newspaper in America for two weeks."
• • On Sunday, 4 May 1969 • •
• • Reporter Whitney Bolton wrote an article, a first person remembrance: "Critic Impressed by Mae West Role of Siren at Seance." Bolton had attended one of Mae's backstage seances and his piece was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer in its weekend edition on Sunday, 4 May 1969.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • They figured that, because of those ultra-sexy things she did on the stage. Will Hays would frown upon Mae West on the screen.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "It takes two to get one in trouble."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The May Mann papers mentioned Mae West.
• • During her summer at college, May Mann began to pursue an interview with Mae West. According to May, this stunning star evaded the press in fine Garbo fashion. It was May's dream to actually go "up and see [her] some time," and write an exclusive on it. According to the editor of the Standard-Examiner, May got the interview "after two years of repeated effort . . . after considerable maneuvering, near appointments and finally by pulling all the 'strings of power and pull' in Hollywood" (Mae West article, box 9, fd. 5, editor's note). Through her contact with Miss West's personal representative, May became one of the five women to have a personal interview with Mae West . . . .
• • Source: Item in the May Mann Papers, 1930 —1982
• • 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 3,497 visitors. And 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 3170th blog post.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • "Whirl of the Town," 1921 • •
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