In November 1933, a literary magazine printed an essay written by Paul Connolly about the allure and appeal of a rising movie star named MAE WEST. Let's enjoy an excerpt and see if you agree with him.
• • "A Philosopher Looks at Mae West" • •
• • After his first two pages, Paul Connolly then continued with this: Her coarseness is such that it is obviously artificially produced by deliberate effort — — hence in her case it does not offend. On the contrary, since it is ludicrously incongruous, it amuses. When Mae West talks through clenched teeth and out of the corner of her mouth, in a voice not unlike a truck driver's in tonal quality, people do not throw up their hands and shout "Horrors"; rather, very sensibly, they lean back and have a good laugh.
• • Paul Connolly noted: So also is it with her so-called allure. When she wraps her arm tightly around the hero's neck and whispers "You get me, kid?" her own peculiar style brings laughs. But when Clark Gable and Jean Harlow slip into a wordless embrace, it brings only boredom or perspiration.
• • Paul Connolly observed: The most peculiar point in the psychology underlying Mae's appeal, is that this appeal is felt only by people who are at least fairly cultured. To a vulgar person she would have no appeal, for she would not seem incongruous. To certain types she might seem perfectly natural but they don't know any better. Consequently, we have the paradox. The more cultured a person is, the more he appreciates Mae West.
• • Paul Connolly added: Yes, Mae makes an interesting study. My only regret is that I cannot speak with more authority. Her mother was a burlesque star in her youth. (Ed.'s note: the youthfulness of a burlesque queen is open to debate.) Mae herself was at one time in burlesque as a strong woman, following a girlhood spent in the wilds of Brooklyn. . . .
• • Part 1 of this selected excerpt ends here. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.
• • Source: Excerpt from the essay "A Philosopher Looks at Mae West" by Paul Connolly first printed by The Alembic (Providence College); published in the issue for November 1933.
• • On Sunday, 2 November 1969 in The N.Y. Times • •
• • A lengthy article appeared in the Sunday magazine section of The N.Y. Times on Sunday, 2 November 1969: "76 — — and Still Diamond Lil" written by Steven V. Roberts and punctuated with several photos of the Brooklyn Bombshell at various career points. The first portrait showed Mae costumed by Edith Head for her role as Leticia Van Allen.
• • From Hollywood, Steven V. Roberts's interview with Mae West produced this sentiment: "I hold records all over the world. That's my ego, breaking records. So don't say they put me in someone else's room."
• • On Friday, 2 November 1990 • •
• • Musician Klaus Schulze recorded a long track "Face of Mae West" [08:04] for a sampler CD titled "Dalí: The Endless Enigma" and this cut was first released on Friday, 2 November 1990 on the Coriolis label.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • "I Met My Waterloo" from the Mae West picture "It Ain't No Sin" is on the other side. This is also by Duke Ellington and his orchestra.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "You see the speakeasy influence. Sit at a table, dearie, I always say. And don't forget your frills and ruffles and anything else that feminizes you."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Stanford Daily mentioned Mae West.
• • "Hair" has the second longest run of any musical to play in San Francisco. And we're out to be number one. So if you've seen "Hair" a first time, see it a second. Your second can make us first.
• • First place is still held by "Diamond Lil" starring Mae West. . . .
• • Source: Item (page 7) in The Stanford Daily; published on Friday, 30 October 1970
• • Note: Mae West onstage in April 1928 during the first run of her successful Bowery melodrama "Diamond Lil" on Broadway. Marvelous costuming by Dolly Tree.
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 11th anniversary • •
• • Thank
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past eleven years. The other day we entertained 3,497 visitors. And we reached a
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• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3301st blog post.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • in 1928 • •
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