Monday, September 26, 2016

Mae West: Theatrical Affairs

In September 1933, MAE WEST sat down for a series of interviews with the West Coast syndicated columnist Willis Thornton. Last week, the first chapter was posted and here is chapter two, excerpt aa.
• • "Mae West Goes to Heaven as Little Eva But Goes to Prison for Her Own Show" • •
• • Written by Willis Thornton, NEA Services Writer • •
• • Willis Thornton wrote:  The girl who was to put the red light in the theatre in place of the spotlight, and the hour-glass in the place of the stove-poker as a model for the female form divine, was destined for the theatre as inevitably as a hot dog is destined for a bun.
• • Mae West's mother was a native Parisienne [sic]. She died a few years ago [in 1930].  Battling Jack West, the one-time lightweight prize fighter who was her father, is now a Long Island chiropractor [sic]. Mae grew up in Bushwick and Greenpoint in the far reaches of darkest Brooklyn. She was one of those kids that every neighborhood knows. She "had talent."
• • Mae won most of the prizes at amateur theatrical affairs. Before she was five, she was giving performances at church and club socials, doing impersonations of Eva Tanguay, Eddie Foy, George M. Cohan, and the popular idols of a day which Mae herself now says was not so 90 44/100 percent pure as some like to suppose. She refers you to the Police Gazette for 1905.
• • The Kid Was Good • •
• • The kid was good, all agreed, and soon she went ahead. She got on as a child actress with Hal Clarendon's Stock Company at the Gotham Theatre in East New York. She played child characters in the good old shows like "Little Lord Fauntleroy," "The Moonshiner's Daughter," and "East Lynne."  She was the little daughter who implored "Father, dear father, come home with me now!" in "Ten Nights in a Bar Room."
• • She was the saccharine Lovey Mary  . . .
• • NOTE: This is the second of three stories on Mae West, the buxom actress who is restoring curves to feminine favor.  [A lengthy section, it will be posted piece by piece all this week. This post was excerpt aa. See tomorrow for excerpt bb.]
• • On Saturday, 26 September 1931 in Billboard • •
• • About "The Constant Sinner," Jack Mehler wrote that "it has the makings of a good money show, both for Miss West and the Shuberts who are reported in on it." Mehler's entire review was published in Billboard's issue dated for Saturday, 26 September 1931.
• • On Tuesday, 26 September 1939 • •
• • On Tuesday, 26 September 1939 Joe Breen had outlined plenty of no-nos in his written comments for Maurice Pivar, an executive at Universal, letting him know what the censors objected to in "My Little Chickadee."  For instance, a "revealing white lawn blouse" worn by Mae West's character, Joe Breen warned, must not expose too much cleavage, tsk-tsk.
• • Overheard in Hollywood •
• • Despite her solid reviews, Mae West again found herself searching for another break. Why did Bee Palmer succeed where Mae West failed?
• • Beatrice C. "Bee" Palmer [11 September 1894 — 22 December 1967] was a singer and dancer born in Chicago, Illinois. She first appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1918.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "I'm just as busy when I'm not making a movie."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Street Swing mentioned Mae West.
• • Mae West liked to say she created the "Shimmy Sha Wabble" dance (aka The Shimmy.)  . . . However, the "Bullfrog Hop" song written in 1908 pre-dates Gilda Gray's, Bee Palmer and Mae West's stories by 10 years.  . . .
• • Source: Item in Street Swing, author unknown; posted on (date unknown)
• • 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 3,500 blog posts. Wow! 
• • By the Numbers  • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started twelve years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 3538th 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:


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• • Mae West • in 1918

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