Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mae West: Memorable Visitor

MAE WEST had several visits from journalist Ellis Nassour, who wrote the book "Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline."
• • Born 1941 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ellis Nassour graduated from "Ole Miss" in 1964. Nassour had always been in love with entertainment from his summers at his cousins’ film studio, Nassour Studios, later known as Metromedia Square, which once housed Fox Television Center on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
• • "After knowing Miss West for seven years through a family connection, I had the pleasure of working with her to promote a recording project of some of her famous movie lines," wrote Ellis Nassour in 1985.  Insisting he had "rare access," he self-published this lengthy remembrance.  This is Part 1. The misspelt words have been corrected. Some of the more questionable recollections and inaccuracies have been marked by "sic."
• • Memorable Visits with "Aunt Mae" • •
• • Ellis Nassour wrote:   The life and career of Mae West, sometime in the early to mid-50s, became an existential thing.  The last time I saw Miss West, as I always called her, was the spring of 1978, at which time she was beginning to fall into a state of increasing bewilderment [sic], which today we would term dementia or Alzheimer's.  During our visit, she told me I reminded her of her nephew [her brother John's son].  That evening, as I departed, I affectionately called her "Aunt Mae."
• • Ellis Nassour continued:   That day we spoke of the legends she knew: Al Jolson, Greta Garbo, W.C. Fields. What makes a legend, I wanted to know. "To be a legend," Ms. West stated, "you got to be different — — have a special look, or walk, or aura. In my case, I had it all. And knew how to use it. These aren't gestures you learn in high school, dear. They come natural. And my basic style, I never changed. Half the women in the world  — — and quite a few men  — — have imitated me. They only imitate you if you're unique.  I am."
• • Ellis Nassour exclaimed: To visit Mae West was an unforgettable and quite theatrical experience, especially if you were aware of her films, her controversy, her legend, her myth. She certainly didn't disappoint.
• • Ellis Nassour added:  Among her vast real estate holdings, which she began to purchase when she was the highest paid Hollywood female star, was a ranch in the Hills and Santa Monica beachfront property, including a Moderne-designed home, which she often frequented even though she rarely went into the sun. She could have afforded an estate that would rival a Raj palace, but home was an apartment, which remained unchanged — — like Ms. West — — for as long as I can remember. It was the entire sixth floor [sic] of a doorman building, in a pleasant residential neighborhood, called The Ravenswood.   . . .
• • This has been Part 1. Part 2 will continue tomorrow.  [Ellis Nassour © 1985; all rights reserved; used with permission].
• • On Friday, 21 July 1933 in Los Angeles • •
• • On Friday, 21 July 1933 a wire service photo from Wide World with an attached paper caption explained that "Mae West Blonde Stage and Screen Star Made a Sensation at the Huge Public Barbecue Given by Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz." 
• • Mae is wearing a sweet small hat in the photo, seemingly inspired by the perky paper caps worn in the 1930s by soda jerks.
• • Eugene W. Biscailuz [12 March 1883 — 16 May 1969] was the 27th Sheriff of Los Angeles County, California. It was Biscailuz who organized the California Highway Patrol.
• • On Monday, 21 July 2008 in Utah • •
• • A scene from Mae West's play "The Drag" was performed in Salt Lake City, in the heart of Mormon country, at 7:00 pm on Monday, 21 July 2008.
• • Who gets to decide what works are suitable to be offered to the public? That was the question on the minds of the interesting people who run Utah's Plan-B Theatre Company.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West, chosen as Woman of the Year during the first Scripter event, arrived reclining on a platform.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:   "I've been on more laps than a napkin."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A British paper discussed Mae West.
• • Paul Novak • •
• • Christopher Hawtree wrote:  Among the many men who used to call by Mae West's house in Santa Monica, California, after working out on nearby Muscle Beach was a wrestler called Mr. Baltimore, who has died aged 76. Otherwise known as Chester Krauser, he had been in the chorus line of West's mid-50s nightclub act. West was 62 and had currently been involved with two other hunks from her stage act. But as West recalled, the 32-year-old Mr Baltimore 'had an air of serious liveliness about him one day that I supposed conveyed his happiness at having me all alone.'   . . .
• • Source: Article in The Guardian (U.K.]; published on Wednesday, 21 July 1999 
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 12th anniversary • •
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during these past twelve years. The other day we entertained 3,497 visitors. And we reached a milestone recently when we completed 3,400 blog posts. Wow! 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started twelve years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 3491st 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:


• • Photo:
• • Mae West • in 1933

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1 comment:

  1. A remarkable interview by Ellis Nassour. I would question his recollection of a doorman. Visitors at the period he visited Mae West, reported to the front desk, and upon a call to the tenant to be visited, were allowed up the elevator. West's sixth floor, two bedroom suite, was an end unit, but certainly did not occupy the entire sixth floor, of the seven floor building. The Ravenswood Apartment is located in the Hancock district of Los Angeles, a very fashionable and highly sought neighbourhood.