Friday, July 22, 2016

Mae West: Sidling Up

MAE WEST had visits from a member of the Nassour family. This remembrance continues from yesterday, when Part 1 was posted.
• • "After knowing Ms. 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 2. 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 recalled:   It was the entire sixth floor of a doorman building, in a pleasant residential neighborhood, called Ravenswood. 
• • Ellis Nassour noted:  The last time I visited, she stood regally in the hallway in the satin gown she wore in Myra Breckinridge.  Under the special lighting conditions that were de rigueur — — and just a little reminiscent of the moment in Sunset Boulevard when Joe meets Norma for the first time * — — it was obvious the dress, like the furnishings, was a bit faded.  [* Billy Wilder desperately wanted Mae West for the lead in Sunset Boulevard.]
• • Ellis Nassour noticed:  Ms. West was all about her screen image as she flipped the tresses of her long blonde wig and swiveled the hips of her no longer svelte body.  It was a living movie and I could vividly see her in an earlier film sidling up to Cary Grant, whom she always claimed she discovered [she really didn't, but she did advance his career by demanding he play opposite her, and with star billing] and saying, "Why don't you come up and see me sometime?" [sic]
• • Mae's very proper butler and personal assistant Paul Grayson • •
• • Ellis Nassour added:  Gone were the days when sister Beverly, her absolute alter ego, or her very proper butler and personal assistant Paul Grayson would boom as you arrived, "And now here's Miss Mae."  Seriously.
• • Ellis Nassour continued:   In later visits, you were received by a man many found cold and intimidating, but whom I thought was a prince of the earth.  He was Paul Novak, a former wrestler and muscleman in Ms. West's club and stage shows.  For the last 27 years of her life, he was her absolutely devoted confidant and factotum.  Paul  received you at the elevator and brought you to the small, darkened living room with its special overhead lighting and the famed nude alabaster statue of Mae West by Gladys Lewis Bush on the grand piano.  He would serve you water and then talk to you while you waited.  Mae West still loved to make an entrance.    . . .
• • This has been Part 2. Part 3 will continue on Monday.  [Ellis Nassour © 1985; all rights reserved; used with permission].
• • On Monday, 22 July 1935 • •
• • On Monday, 22 July 1935, The Argus (Australia) wrote:   The inimitable Mae West will be the starring figure in "Belle of the Nineties," to be shown at the Strand Theatre to-morrow and Wednesday nights.  . . .  The costumes are among the most beautiful ever seen on the screen. Miss West sings four "hit" songs in this production. 
• • On Wednesday, 22 July 1942 • •
• • The dateline was Los Angeles, the headline was "Come Up and Sue Me Sometime." This was a news item suitable for the lachrymose intolerant.
• • The Argus wrote: Mae West, the film star, has asked for a divorce from her one-time vaudeville partner, Frank Wallace, charging him with cruelty.
• • The Argus explained: Wallace, reversing the usual procedure, is requesting alimony at the rate of $1,000 a month on the grounds that he is destitute. He contends that Mae West has a fortune of more than $1,000,000.
• • The Argus closed with: Mae West declares that she separated from Wallace the month after they were married in 1911.
• • Source:  Page 3 of The Argus (Melbourne, Australia); published on Wednesday, 22 July 1942.
• • Save the Date: Wednesday, 17 August 2016 • •
• • Mae West: New Yorker, Vaudevillian, Upstart, and Jailbird — — a Birthday Celebration!
• • Link: Mae West event on Aug. 17, 2016

• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • But quite a lot of Mae West is going quite a long way on the New York stage these days.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "Gentlemen, pet your women. They love it like a tabby cat. Occasionally suggest that they buy a new dress, even if they have enough to clothe an 1890 chorus."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Earl Wilson mentioned Mae West.
• • Earl Wilson wrote:   Mae West won't bring her summer stock play, “Come On Up and Ring Twice,” to Broadway because she doesn't collect any royalties on it.  . . .
• • Source: Item in Earl Wilson syndicated column; published on Monday,  23 July 1956
• • 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 3492nd 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 • her home in 1955

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