Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Mae West: She's Bold

Jill Watts, biographer of MAE WEST, a distinguished professor at CSUSM, and a talented author of books on Father Divine [1879—1965] and Hattie McDaniel [1895—1952], which has inspired a new film about the Oscar winner, has kindly consented to an exclusive interview with The Mae West Blog. This is Part 1.
• • MW BLOG: QUESTION #1: Mae West: what surprised you about her the more you research and wrote your masterful biography “Mae West: An Icon in Black and White” for Oxford University Press? And were you the first person to access the long-hidden archives?
• • JILL WATTS: ANSWER #1: First, thank you so much for your support of my work on Mae West.  I appreciate it very much and I’m grateful to be interviewed for your blog.  
• • JW: I think what surprised me the most was the degree to which African American culture influenced Mae West.  I can explain this best by discussing how I came to the project (or, in a way, the project came to me).  I was using clips of “She Done Him Wrong” in my class to discuss women’s roles during the Great Depression.  Mae really was such a great role model for women in that era — — she was so bold and so confident — — and her performance always surprises students and gets them talking about gender as well as the historical realities of the 1930s. 
• • JW: During that class session, I had a student remark “I didn’t know Mae West was black.”  I told her Mae West wasn’t but asked why she would think so. 
• • Was Mae West black? • •  . . .
• • This exciting interview with Prof. Jill Watts will be continued on the next post.
• • Recommended Reading: “Mae West: An Icon in Black and White” by Jill Watts [Oxford University Press; paperback edition, 2003]; 400 pages.
• • On Wednesday, 31 July 1974 •
• • "Sex is good for you," says Mae West. And an interview published in The Australian Women's Weekly began with that provocative, bold opening when they printed a profile of the sultry star.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Many of the Hollywood bigwigs were ideal for having their lives made into films. There was Clark `King' Gable, the immortal Charlie Chaplin, the one and only Mae West, and dozens of others. Young stars of today competed with one another to bag the prestigious roles of their predecessors.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: “It’s always been success, success.”
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article by a columnist discussed Mae West.
• • "Movie-Go-'Round — Mae West's Success in Las Vegas Stirs Talk of Picture Deals" • •
• • Dorothy Manners wrote:  HOLLYWOOD (INS) — — It figures that a passel o' plans would be announced for Mae West now that she and her chorus of gladiators are selling out all their shows.  The muscle boys are the riot of Las Vegas at The Sahara. Producers are ready to sit down with her as soon as Mae completes driving her nightclub swine. If she ever does, that is.  They're battering down the doors to see the indefatigable old gal in Vegas.  ...
• • Source: Syndicated column rpt in Albuquerque Journal (N.M.); published on Saturday, 31 July 1954
• • The evolution of 2 Mae West plays that keep her memory alive • • 
• • A discussion with Mae West playwright LindaAnn LoSchiavo — — 
• • http://lideamagazine.com/renaissance-woman-new-york-city-interview-lindaann-loschiavo/
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 13th anniversary • •  
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during these past thirteen years. Not long ago, we entertained 3,497 visitors. And we reached a milestone recently when we completed 4,000 blog posts. Wow!  
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started fourteen years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 4013th 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: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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