Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mae West: Gurley

MAE WEST gave good advice. In fact, there is speculation that the secret to Helen Gurley Brown's long life — — the former Cosmopolitan editrix turns 87 in three weeks — — may lie with the Hollywood sex siren.
• • The Cosmo gal's husband, David Brown, tells Charlotte Chandler in her new West bio, "She Always Knew How" (Simon & Schuster): "I remember Mae's advice to Helen was, 'Always have two almonds a day to keep cancer away.' Helen has observed that ever since."
• • David Brown notes that even later in life, Mae West was doggedly pursued by men: "We used to have dinner with Mae . . . and during dinner, several sorts of mash notes came over from businessmen at nearby tables."
— — Source: — —
• • Page Six
• • Published in: The New York Post
• • Published on: 30 January 2009
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mae West: Archie Mayo

Archie Mayo directed MAE WEST in 1932 — — and we are thinking of him in January because his birthday just passed.
• • Born in New York City, Archie Mayo [29 January 1891 — 4 December 1968] was a stage actor who relocated to the West Coast in 1915 and soon began working as a film director.
• • Mayo directed the speakeasy motion picture "Night After Night" [1932] — — a George Raft vehicle that did more for Mae's career than for the tough guy actor known best for "Scarface."
• • Critiquing the film's debut, Variety (for once) was full of praise for Mae West.
• • Reviewer Bige wrote: Bootlegger stuff and some gangster atmosphere climaxed by and off screen shooting finish are played down to run secondary to the feminine interest. Raft is mixed up in both. The women are: a past flame (West), recently discarded sweetheart (Gibson), present head woman and "nice" girl (Cummings) and a middle-aged school teacher employed to give the mugg English lessons. When the Misses Skipworth and West are on view, together or separately, the laughs come often, and in the brief period assigned them as a team the comedy pace is even speedier. They do a virtual cross-fire two-act when doubling. Miss West's dialog is always unmistakably her own. It is doubtful if anyone else could write it just that way.
• • The way the West—Skipworth moments stand out suggests the picture could have stood more of them, but the obvious intent is to nurse Miss West along. She's tossed into this one rather abruptly and without bearing on the plot, much in the manner that Jimmy Durante has been handled by Metro. That's okay if they don't do it too often. As long as this film proves the former legit name has something for pictures it wouldn't be taking a chance to shoot the works on her from now on.
• • Miss Skipworth's intelligent painting of a cultured lady having her first taste of hotcha is a gem. Misses Cummings and Gibson are more restricted than their elders, holding down ingenue-like roles that call for looks mostly. But they deliver in every way. No leading man has been more ably supported.
• • Story is merely that of a mugg who yearns to toss off the mugg staff after falling in love at a distance with a Lady. That he winds up with his goal attained doesn't matter much, although the happy ending changes the tone that runs through the story up to them. He's told midway by one of the girls he is more likable when he's himself. . . . [Source: Variety Magazine; columnist Bige; an excerpt from a lengthy review originally published on 1 November 1932.]
• • In addition to "Night After Night," Archie Mayo's directorial credits include Is Everybody Happy? (1929) with Ted Lewis, The Petrified Forest (1936) with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, and The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938) with Gary Cooper.
• • Mayo retired in 1946 — — shortly after completing A Night in Casablanca with the Marx Brothers and Angel on My Shoulder with Paul Muni, Anne Baxter, and Claude Rains.
• • Mayo has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mae West: In Palo Alto

In Palo Alto, California, the Stanford Theatre invites you to come up and see MAE WEST.
• • From Saturday January 31st — Monday February 2nd, 2009, movie buffs can enjoy two classics from the pre-Code era: "She Done Him Wrong" [1933] on the same bill with "Gold Diggers of 1933."
• • One original billboard was pretty frisky. "Swinging hips, bedroom eyes, and the throaty growl of an amorous cat — — she just doesn't give a damn!" slavered the hand-colored poster, describing the Lady Lou character.
• • "She Done Him Wrong" will be screened at 6:15 PM and also at 9:20 PM.
• • Mae's break-out screen gem was first released by Paramount Pictures on 9 February 1933.
• • "Gold Diggers" features Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Warren Williams, Joan Blondell, and Guy Kibbee. Marian Anderson dubbed Joan Blondell's singing voice. Choreographed by Busby Berkeley, this is extravagant eye-candy indeed.
• • Contact: Stanford Theater — — 221 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301 — — Cross Streets: Between Emerson Street and Ramona Street; Tel: (650) 324-3700.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1932 • •
Mae West.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mae West: Selected

Reviewing their picks for "The Top 100+ Funniest Movies of All Time," the Reader's Digest selected a sexy MAE WEST motion picture as number six.
• • Correspondent Stefan Kanfer asked: What's your all-time favorite funny movie? Having trouble picking just one? So did we! So we narrowed the field down to the top 100+ side-splitters of all time. Please stay tuned for the upcoming results.
• • Number 1: THE GOLD RUSH (1925) By common agreement (including Charlie's), this is Chaplin's greatest silent film. Alternating between heads-on slapstick and poetic mime, the famous Little Tramp pans for nuggets in Alaska — — and winds up broke. In a classic scene, he and his customary foil, Big Jim (Mack Swain), get so hungry that Charlie cooks a boot for dinner, carving it like a steak, then delicately twirls the shoelaces around his fork pasta-style. Chaplin's comic techniques were to set the standard for the next 50 years.
• • Number 2: THE FRESHMAN (1925) The third of the great silent film trio (the other two were Chaplin and Keaton), Harold Lloyd did all his own stunts, many of them dangerous, with skill and humor. Here he's a frosh trying to ingratiate himself with fellow students.
• • Number 3: THE GENERAL (1927) Celebrated as the Great Stone Face because he so rarely cracked a smile, Buster Keaton is remembered as an adroit stunt man and knockabout comedian. But he was far more than that, as demonstrated by this extraordinary silent comedy of the Civil War. As a train engineer who recaptures some hijacked rolling stock, Keaton is audacious, poetic and explosively amusing. As the film's director, he scintillates.
• • Number 4: DUCK SOUP (1933) Perhaps the purest film farce ever made. Directed con brio by Leo McCarey, the film offers no love story or subplots, just Harpo, Chico and Groucho Marx at their manic peak. En route to a slam-bang finale they satirize war and the country's leading politicians. (Groucho: "It's too late to [prevent a war]. I just paid a month's rent on the battlefield.")
• • Number 5: DINNER AT EIGHT (1933) The "talkies" grew up with this adaptation of a Broadway hit by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Under George Cukor's canny direction John and Lionel Barrymore, sex goddess Jean Harlow, and comedians Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery enliven the sophisticated dialogue, revolving around the lives of financial predators, actors on the rocks, hatcheck girls on the way up and millionaires on the way down, all set against the background of a glittering Manhattan dinner party.
• • Number 6: SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933) Mae West became something of a joke in later life, but as her films prove, she was one of the best comedy writers in 1930s Hollywood. Here, she plays a Gay Nineties saloon singer in trouble with the law — — impersonated by Cary Grant in an early role. "When a woman goes wrong, the men go right after her." "Why don't you come up and see me sometime?" The great lines are here, and Mae wrote 'em all. Lowell Sherman directed unobtrusively.
• • Also included in the "Top Ten" were: SONS OF THE DESERT (1933) with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; THE THIN MAN (1934) co-starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Dashiell Hammett's married sleuths, Nick and Nora Charles — — and their dog Asta; IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) featuring a cynical newspaperman (Clark Gable) and a pampered heiress (Claudette Colbert) who meet cute on an overcrowded bus headed from Miami to New York; MY MAN GODFREY (1936) a screwball farce starring Carole Lombard as a temperamental heiress who hires a down-at-the-heels bum (William Powell), ably directed by Gregory La Cava.
— — Source: — —
• • Article: The Top 100+ Funniest Movies of All Time
• • Byline: Stefan Kanfer
• • Published in: Reader's Digest — —
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mae West: Bill Gates

"I won’t be quoting MAE WEST or trying to match his [i.e., Warren Buffet's] humor, but I will try to be equally candid," Bill Gates wrote — — beginning a letter, which was published online 26 January 2009.
• • Well, Mr. M
soft, we're sure that Mae would never have attempted to put words (nor anything else) in your mouth.
• • And Mae's preference was not for "soft" men nor "micro" males.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mae West: Benjamin F. Keith

MAE WEST was occasionally booked on the prestigious Keith circuit by Benjamin Franklin Keith, who was born in late January [26 January 1846 26 March 1914], a vaudeville theatre owner.
• • Before Mae worked for B.F. Keith, she fell in love with live entertainment by watching variety acts with her mother on several Brooklyn stages. And what pleasure palaces Mae and Matilda West had waltzed into. [Matilda West died on 26 January 1930.]
• • When Mae was 18 years old, not far from the elevated train's Gates Avenue station (at Broadway in Bushwick) a superb playhouse debuted: a Beaux Arts confection with Egyptian goddesses positioned on white-glazed terracotta oculi that are, simultaneously, embraced by gigantic cupids. Taken over by B.F. Keith a year later (and eventually renamed the RKO Bushwick Theatre), this was situated on a corner lot where Broadway met Monroe and Howard.
• • The Bushwick was built by showman Percy Williams — — using the popular theatre designer William McElfatrick as his architect — — and first opened on 11 September 1911 as a vaudeville house. Architect William McElfatrick was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1854.
• • In 1912, Percy Williams sold it to B.F. Keith.
• • On March 26, 1914, the little loved founder of the Keith circuit died in Florida, his 28-year-old bride nearby — — perhaps already planning for her well-cushioned widowhood.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • The Bushwick [1396 Broadway at Howard Street] • •
Mae West.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mae West: In London

The date was the 25th day of January 1948 when MAE WEST opened the United Kingdom tour of "Diamond Lil" at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London town. The broad from Brooklyn had never been abroad before.
• • "Who else can manage to 'shimmy' sitting down?" wrote one British drama critic.
• • The production was directed by William Mollison.
• • In the London cast were Richard Bailey as Captain Cummings; David Davies as Gus Jordan; Hal Gould as Chick Clark; Noele Gordon as Rita; Bruno Barnabe as Juarez, etc.
• • The Prince of Wales Theatre is a West End theatre located at 31 Coventry St., London, England, W1D 6AS near Leicester Square in the City of Westminster. It was established in 1884 and rebuilt in 1937 — — and extensively refurbished in 2004 by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, its current owner.
• • In 1948, Mae West's "
Diamond Lil" was a box-office smash there.
• • In 1949, "
Harvey" — — Mary Coyle Chase's comedy about an imaginary rabbit — — was a hopping success.
• • In the 1950s, the theatre hosted variety and revues, starring such famous performers as Norman Wisdom, Peter Sellers, Bob Hope, Gracie Fields, Benny Hill, Hughie Green, Frankie Howerd, and Morecambe and Wise.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1948 • •
Mae West.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mae West: FCC in 1938

The radio ruckus MAE WEST set in motion just before Christmas 1937 continued being discussed in the news. Time Magazine's issue — — dated Monday, 24 January 1938 — — focused on all those "right-thinking" citizens who penned complaint letters and the FCC's request for a transcript of the offending program. NBC was reluctant to release it. Can you guess why?
• • In case you never saw the article, here it is.
• • FCC on Mae West
• • Last August Franklin Roosevelt plucked goggle-eyed Frank McNinch — — one of the liveliest members of the Federal Power Commission — — and made him chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. His job was to inject some New Deal vigor into the politics-ridden FCC. Last week the results became apparent.
• • Last month Mae West brought down a deluge of criticism from all over the United States by a sexy burlesque of the story of Adam & Eve (TIME Magazine, Dec. 27, 1937). A partial transcript is below.
• • Among the 1,000-odd letters of criticism that showered on National Broadcasting Co. was one from FCC asking for a transcript of the program. Last week NBC President Lenox R. Lohr got another letter from FCC, signed by Chairman Frank McNinch.
• • Taking time out from such radio supervising jobs as dividing up the ether, allotting slices of it to broadcasting stations and licensing operators, Mr. McNinch sounded off on Mae West:
• • "The admittedly objectionable character of these features is, in our opinion, attributable to the lack of a proper conception of the high standards required for a broadcast program intended for reception in the homes, schools, automobiles, religious, social and economic institutions, as well as clubs, hotels, trains and other places, reaching in the aggregate a much larger number of people daily than any other means of communication and carrying its message to men, women and children of all ages.
• • "A clear recognition of the social, civil and moral responsibility for the effect upon listeners of all classes and ages requires such a high standard for programs as would insure against features that are suggestive, vulgar, immoral or of such other character as may be offensive to the great mass of right-thinking, clean-minded American citizens."
• • Although it has long been recognized that the rights and privileges of broadcasters are not so great as those of the press, this letter pointed the difference in official black & white. The press, in spite of its guaranteed freedom, is not permitted to be immoral, obscene or libelous. But in order to preserve freedom of expression, freedom of artistic taste and freedom of information to all minorities however wrong-thinking they may be, the press is permitted to be vulgar, if not suggestive, to be just as offensive as it likes to "right-thinking people." By FCC doctrine as laid down by Mr. McNinch, the radio may reflect only views and tastes agreeable to one group, those whom FCC defines as "right-thinking" people. Mr. McNinch went on still further to restrict the field of radio. He wrote:
• • "In our present system and the statute under which the Federal Communications Commission functions, the Commission has no power of censorship, but this power and responsibility rests squarely and unavoidably upon the licensee. . . . Licenses are granted without any compensation by the licensee to the Government and solely for the purpose of serving the public interest, and, hence, the broadcaster must accept, along with the privilege granted, a definite, inescapable and high public trust in the use of the facilities licensed. . . .
• • "The Commission has decided to take no further action at this time than the writing of this letter in condemnation of the program. However, upon application for renewal of the licenses of the stations carrying this broadcast, the Commission will take under consideration this incident along with all other evidence tending to show whether or not a particular licensee has conducted his station in the public interest."
• • Forced thus to censor themselves, radiomen were placed not only in the position of having to observe a special set of taboos, but of daring to err only in one direction, by being too conservative. Frank McNinch's letter was as good as official notice to the radio industry that its future lies in entertainment and education but not in rivaling the press.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Last week all parties involved refused to release the text of the script, excerpts from which follow:
• • Snake: That's the forbidden tree.
• • Eve (Mae West): Oh, don't be technical. Answer me this — my palpitatin' python — would you like to have this whole Paradise to yourself?
• • Snake: Certainly.
• • Eve: O.K., then pick me a handful of fruit — Adam and I'll eat it — and the Garden of Eden is all yours. What do ya say?
• • Snake: Sssounds all right . . . but it's forbidden fruit.
• • Eve: Listen, what are you — my friend in the grass or a snake in the grass?
• • Snake: But forbidden fruit.
• • Eve: Are you a snake or are you a mouse?
• • Snake: I'll — I'll do it. (hissing laugh)
• • Eve: Now you're talking. Here — right in between those pickets.
• • Snake: I'm — I'm stuck.
• • Eve: Oh — shake your hips. There, there now, you're through.
• • Snake: I shouldn't be doing this.
• • Eve: Yeh, but you're doing all right now. Get me a big one. ... I feel like doin' a big apple.
• • Snake: Here you are, Missuss Eve.
• • Eve: Mm — oh, I see — huh — nice goin', swivel hips.
• • Snake: Wait a minute. It won't work. Adam'll never eat that forbidden apple.
• • Eve: Oh, yes, he will — when I'm through with it.
• • Snake: Nonsense. He won't.
• • Eve: He will if I feed it to him like women are gonna feed men for the rest of time.
• • Snake: What's that?
• • Eve: Applesauce.
— — Source: — —
• • Time Magazine — — Monday, 24 January 1938
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • This skit, written by Arch Obler, got Mae West banned from the airwaves for several years.
Mr. Obler, however, continued to work in radio.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1937 • •
Mae West.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mae West: Bud and Mavis

The pairing of MAE WEST with Cary Grant was so successful that Paramount wanted to continue it for "Go West, Young Man" — — but Grant declined. That is why his intimate buddy Randolph Scott [who was born in the month of January] came to be cast opposite the Brooklyn bombshell.
• • The script was based on Lawrence Dudley's play "Personal Appearance." Mae plays a movie star named Mavis Arden who gets stranded at a remote rural inn, while on a personal appearance tour with her press agent Morgan. Fortunately, the tedium is broken when she encounters a handsome fresh-faced mechanic Bud Norton.
• • This bud does not wilt when faced with a mega-watt star, and the two find they have, at least, a few things in common.
• • "Go West, Young Man" was released on 18 November 1936.
• • Born on 23 January 1898 in Virginia, Randolph Scott's acting career began in 1928.
• • A handsome leading man in comedies, dramas, and an occasional adventure role, Scott finally did "Go WEST" and became a screen cowboy. And when he began focusing on westerns in the late 1940s, Randolph Scott reached his greatest stardom. His screen persona altered into that of a stoic, craggy, and uncompromising figure — — a tough, hard-bitten man seemingly unconnected to the light comedy romantic lead he had been during the 1930s.
• • He died at age 89 on 2 March 1987 in Beverly Hills, California.
• • • • Memorable quotes from Go West, Young Man • • • •
• • Morgan: You're a great star and can't take a risk. Your private life has got to be an open book.
• • Mavis Arden: I'm just looking for someone to read it.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1936 • •
Mae West.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mae West: Mrs. Astor's Horse

Stanley Walker's book Mrs. Astor's Horse has an amusing section on MAE WEST — — a personal glimpse that also touches on the criminal acts of Edward Friedman, that brazen thief who stole diamonds from our own Diamond Lil herself.
• • Stanley Walker writes: Before the rise of the lush Mae West, sex in the United States was treated either with extreme seriousness, even to the point of dolor, or it was laughed at and razzed. Mae West — — by adding a slightly burlesque overtone to the by-play between the sexes — — made everybody feel more comfortable except the censors, who felt rather vaguely that there was something wrong in her technique, though for the life of them they never made it clear whether it was because they took her acting seriously or as something amusing. Miss West can invest the simple phrase, "How do you do?" with a sexy quality which is the distilled essence of all the bordellos of all time.
• • One of her best tricks is the way she eyes a man, beginning by staring at his shoes and gradually allowing her gaze to wander up to his neck and face. With her small-waisted figure, her undulating hippy strut, her nasal whine, and her meaty lips, she has made sex a thing gorgeously panoplied — — as it was in the brave and bawdy days of that old minstrel of the boudoir, King Solomon.
• • There are more stories about her, most of them off-color, than ever were told about Pat and Mike. She has taken what is known as woman's priceless possession, added a few circus touches, and put a laugh in the libido.
• • Notwithstanding the impression one gets from her pictures and stage get-up, Miss West is a rather small woman. She is about 5 feet tall and weighs about120 pounds. The most she ever weighed was 136 when she went on a cream and pastry diet to build up for the part of Diamond Lil.
• • She eats almost anything: chopped raw steak, kippered herring, and home-made pie. She is full of vitality and practically immune to fatigue. She does exercises and rides a stationary bicycle in her Hollywood apartment, but doesn't go in for sports. Broadway knew her hair as a brassy gold, but now it is platinum white and very fluffy.
• • Her Hollywood apartment is typical of her character. Her specially constructed front door is of the speakeasy type; visitors are carefully squinted at through a grilled slit by a butler. The color scheme of the apartment is white and gold. All the furniture, including a large grand piano, is white. The drawing-room contains several white sofas upholstered in cloth of gold. Thick bearskin rugs cover the floors. Numerous ash trays in the form of golden swans are scattered about on little tables. Dozens of mirrors are used as wall decorations. She has a gold dinner set from which she and her brother Jack, who lives with her, dine often, served by a Negro butler and maid. The other occupants of the apartment are a monkey named Junior and a small Chihuahua dog.
• • An oversized bed dominates the bedroom. It is white and frilly, with a regal canopy, and stands on a dais carpeted with another white bearskin. A huge mirror is embedded inside the canopy so she can survey her famous figure as she lies outstretched in one of her favorite black lace nightgowns.
• • During her "Sex" and "Diamond Lil" days in New York, her bed was of carved wood with a velveteen canopy of green and gold attached to a six-pointed coronet. A tall pier glass stood opposite the foot of the bed and was adorned with a crest designed by Mae, which bore the legend, "Mae West, Sex, Diamond Lil."
• • She passes most of her spare time in bed and composes most of her dramatic masterpieces there. She used to write scenarios in longhand. But now she calls in a stenographer and dictates. She is said to have a keen appreciation of her body, and likes to stretch out full length in a warm, rose-scented tub and soak.
• • She is particular about her clothes; the skirts must be instep length to bring out the curve of her hips. Her dresses must be tight in the right places, and low-necked. Because of an eccentricity in dressing (she combs her hair and puts on her hat before her dress), her street clothes are made with slits and buttons on the shoulders and down the back. She likes heavy-scented Oriental perfumes, high-heeled satin pumps, and wide-brimmed hats.
• • Miss West is known as an exceptionally shrewd business woman. Her contract calls for two pictures a year, and contains a provision that she must approve all her scenarios. Thus she approves the scenarios written by herself, which she sells for high prices. She never takes a vacation; as soon as one picture is finished, she starts on another.
• • Like the character "Diamond Lil," Miss West is fond of jewelry. For years she delighted In displaying her glittering collection. Her pet piece was a large pendant in the form of a champagne bottle covered with blue-white diamonds.
• • One night in September 1934, three men with guns stopped her automobile and robbed her of her diamonds, worth $17,000 — — including the champagne bottle, and $4,400 in cash.
• • Criminal Edward Friedman
• • One of the robbers, Edward Friedman, was caught, convicted, and sentenced to twelve years in San Quentin prison. Edward Friedman's uncaught pals have threatened to throw acid in her face, so she is guarded wherever she goes. The guards even follow her to the Catholic church near her home — — where she goes almost every morning. The religious touch in her nature is illustrated also by a vigil light in her apartment which is never extinguished.
• • Miss West likes to go to prize-fights, and follows the work of the pugilists with the eye of an expert. Her father was Battling Jack West, a Brooklyn middle-weight. Between fights in the summer, he worked as a bouncer in a Coney Island dance hall, and in the winter he threw out the rowdy ones at Fox's Folly in Brooklyn.
• • Miss West's mother was Matilda Dilker West, a French actress reputedly of Jewish blood, who died in 1930. Battling Jack, who became a chiropractor, died in Hollywood in 1934. Miss West is fond of fighters, and tries to give as many of them as possible parts in her productions. At the prize-fights Miss West is usually accompanied by James Timony, a large red-faced man who has been associated with her since 1926. From time to time somebody starts the rumor that Timony and Miss West are married, but there has never been any proof of a wedding.
• • Timony, a Broadway lawyer with theatrical interests, organized the Morals Production Company, which produced the play "Sex." It was pretty well known at the time that the principal financial backer was Owen Madden, New York's veteran racketeer, but he naturally remained in the background. Owney was a great admirer of Miss West's playwriting ability, and with his friends regarded her as an authentic artist. In 1927 Miss West, Timony, and Charles W. Morganstern, associated with the production, were indicted for staging an indecent performance, "Sex." At the trial, Jim Timony took a rosary from his pocket and fingered the beads in prayer. It was no use. With Miss West and Charles W. Morganstern, Timony was fined $500 and sentenced to ten days in jail.
• • The private life of Miss West has been the subject of many legends and conflicting rumors.
• • In the spring of 1935 a boondoggler in the Middle West, going through some old records, found that she had been married in 1911 to a fellow actor, Frank Wallace. Now, there was a Frank Wallace who played with Miss West as a singing waiter in "
Diamond Lil," but he died in 1933. Another Frank Wallace, who said he was the original bridegroom, turned up on Broadway. He was a vaudeville actor and broke. For a few weeks he tried to cash in on the glamorous fact that he had once been the husband of Mae West, and then he dropped back into obscurity. Miss West, although confronted with the evidence, steadfastly denied that she had ever been married to Wallace.
• • When pressed about her private life, she takes one of Jimmy Walker's phrases and says, "I will match my private life with any woman's."
• • She is known for flip remarks. It is said that once, when refusing an Invitation to attend a luncheon given by the Los Angeles Minute Men, she said . . . .
— — Source: — —
• • With a Foreword by NUNNALLY JOHNSON
• • With fifteen reproductions of photographs and an Index

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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mae West: January 1950

"Diamond Lil" left the Plymouth Theatre on 21 January 1950 and MAE WEST then immediately took the show on the road.
• • The revival enjoyed great success at the venerable Plymouth Theatre [236 West 45th Street]. It opened there on 7 September 1949 and had 182 performances on Broadway.
• • In his admiring review of her 1949 reinvigorated Bowery queen romp through her popular "naughty nineties" hit, The New York Times drama critic Brooks Atkinson admitted he was moved to acknowledge what he called in an atypically poetic effusion ''the sublime fatalism of the entire business,'' and he went on to ask: ''Is she kidding or is she serious?''
• • Knowing Mae, the likely answer is both.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mae West: 21 January 2009

Come up and see MAE WEST tomorrow — — Wednesday evening January 21st — — on the six-part PBS documentary series "Make 'em Laugh: The Funny Business of America" shown on television for two hours back to back.
• • Tomorrow these two segments will air — —
• • "Slip on a Banana Peel: The Knockabouts" — — features physical comedians including Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges and Jim Carrey.
• • "When I'm Bad, I'm Better: The Ground-breakers" — — focuses on those who pressed the boundaries of free speech, such as Mae West, George Carlin, and Richard Pryor.
• • Filmmaker Michael Kantor began work this project because he was inspired by the 2004 presidential election of George W. Bush. Ironically, his sextet is being broadcast when the United States is groaning under the weight of a grave economic downturn that many have likened to the Great Depression — — a time not unlike the era that produced many of America's most adored laughmeisters who enriched our lives with their comic capital such as, yes, yes, Mae West and W. C. Fields.
• • About the year 2004, Michael Kantor said: "The country was polarized, and the funniest comedy at the time, in my opinion, was 'The Daily Show' ... which made fun of both candidates. I began to think ... that comedy (could) reflect American culture in all its glory and weirdness."
• • Verne Gay of Newsday was not all that impressed with Kantor's banter.
• • Verne Gay wrote: "You have to admire PBS's ambition. This is a vast subject, probably too vast for a single program, even one six hours long. The strange paradox here is that there's too much on display and yet there's not enough. . . . In an effort to slip in references to just about everyone — — or so the illusion would suggest — — comics who deserve a richer, deeper exploration (Richard Pryor) have to make room for lesser luminaries. And just as a portrait starts to fill out (Mae West) ... zip! zap! zing! — — it's on to the next person. That said, this can be a hugely enjoyable viewing experience, and that's probably what viewers want. Sit back. Relax. Laugh."
• • Next Wednesday the final two hour-long segments will air:
• • "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break: The Wiseguys" — — looks at curmudgeons and snide humorists such as W.C. Fields, Groucho Marx, and Chris Rock.
• • "Sock It to ME? Satire and Parody" — — details comics who mock American life including Will Rogers, Mel Brooks, Johnny Carson, and Stephen Colbert.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mae West: Sheboygan

How many individuals will go again as MAE WEST to downtown Sheboygan on the last Saturday of this month?
• • This year the Benefit for the John Michael Kohler Arts Center has an interesting theme "Improbable Paramours: The Oddest Couples of All."
• • Guests are invited to concoct their own inconceivable combinations, for instance, the Dalai Lama and Mae West, Sonny and Cher, Mary Poppins and King Kong, Britney Spears and Einstein.
• • The fundraiser will be held on Saturday, 31 January 2009, at the Arts Center. Black tie is optional (but do try to be more original, eh?).
• • For the past two decades, the Arts Center has hosted one of the most deluxe and delightful fundraising costume galas in the Midwest, and its auction is quite funky. Last year, nearly 300 guests attended. These events have raised great sums that are meant to benefit Arts Center programming.
• • The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, a 40-year-old, nationally acclaimed visual and performing arts complex, is located in downtown Sheboygan [ at 608 New York Avenue, Sheboygan, WI 53081].
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mae West: Cary Grant

An article that admires actor Cary Grant naturally must mention MAE WEST.
• • The heartthrob was born in the month of January on 18 January 1904. Cary Grant died on 29 November 1986.
• • Peter Bogdanovich writes: If there had never been a Cary Grant, someone would have had to invent him, and, in fact, someone did, a fellow named Archie Leach from Bristol, England. Acrobat, tumbler, stilt-walker, tall, dark, and handsome, Archie came over to New York City with a well-known vaudeville kind of stunt show, decided to stay on and try his hand at acting and singing in the theater, got work on Broadway, changed his name, taking “Cary” from his first large role, and “Grant” from the phone book. Did a number of musicals, sang, danced, acted, played in a half-dozen shorts, got picked up by Paramount for a seven-year contract, did leads in over two dozen films before he found his picture persona. But along the way, in a couple of the good movies he did at Paramount, he learned a thing or two.
• • On one of his first, Blonde Venus (1932), the legendary Josef von Sternberg, discoverer-molder-Svengali of Marlene Dietrich, took one look at Grant on his first day of shooting and quietly said, deadpan, “Your hair is parted on the wrong side.” Grant himself told me this story
— we were friends for 25 years — and I asked him how he had responded. “I parted it on the other side,” Cary said brightly, and somewhat conspiratorially, “and kept it that way for the rest of my career!”
• • Another big thing was gleaned from his successful experience on two pictures playing the love interest to Mae West. In both She Done Him Wrong (1932) and I’m No Angel (1933), Cary is the object of Mae’s affections and desires. She pursues him, rather than the other way around. Indeed, she makes one of the screen’s most famous (and most misquoted) invitations to Grant in their first scene together: “Why don’t cha come up sometime, an’ see me?” Cary’s a minister [sic], says he hasn’t the time. She responds, “Say, what’re you tryin’ to do, insult me?!” What Cary took home was that it’s better to be wanted than to want, and once he established himself as a star in 1937, it never was otherwise. . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article (with errors): "My Favorite Star"
• • By: Peter Bogdanovich
• • Published in The New York Observer — —
• • Published on: 25 November 2008
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1932 • •
Mae West.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mae West: Marjorie Gateson

MAE WEST played Cleo Borden in "Goin' to Town" — — and Marjorie Gateson played Mrs. Crane Brittony.
• • Born in Brooklyn, New York (like Mae), Marjorie Gateson came into this world in the cold month of January — — on 17 January 1891.
• • Miss Gateson made her film debut in 1931 after a career on the stage of more than two decades, playing secondary character roles — — usually as females of wealth and breeding, who were often haughty and aloof. She is perhaps best known for her roles as the society matron who attempts to thwart Mae West's plans for social climbing in the 1935 film "Goin' To Town" and for a kinder, gentler socialite who learns to box through the efforts of Harold Lloyd in "The Milky Way" [1934].
• • The character actress died of pneumonia in 1977.
• • In honor of her January birthday, we are reprinting this motion picture's critique from Variety Magazine. However, Abel's caustic opinion probably gave no one any cause for celebration.
• • According to Abel: Mae West's poorest. Exhibs and exploiteers will have to go to town to sell "Goin' to Town." Peppered with the usual Westian pepigrams, paprika, and pertness, it's punchy enough on the dialog, but deficient on story. Miss West as scriptist as well as star has seen to it that her nifties are up to the usual quota, but no amount of epigrammatic hypoing can offset the silly story.
• • It may insure action, for "Goin' to Town" goes all over the map to take in lots of geography. Starts in cattle-rustlin' rancho territory; thence to Buenos Aires for cosmopolitan swank; from there to ultra Southampton, L.I., for a sample of La West giving the 400 the acey-duecy, and the fadeout is an off-to-Lunnon with an earl, no less. This cues for the "Now I'm a Lady" song, also the tag first ascribed to this flicker.
• • Secret of Miss West's previous pix has been that they stayed in character. The studio probably decided it's time to get her out of the mauve decade, and while it's a commendable attempt, it's gone awry.
• • Lines are crisp and unsubtle. Since that's expected of her, she's selling it, generously and well. But after the prelims are over, it's something else again.
• • The yen for Paul Cavanagh, who's an oil-driller on her property, chases him off to South America and she tags after him. A desire to acquire social standing buys her a broke, socialite husband (Monroe Owsley), which makes possible the Southampton stuff. There an operatic gala, staged at the family manse, becomes one of those things, although Miss West warbles "My Heart at Thy Still Voice," the aria from "Samson and Delilah," in almost a legit fashion (why wasn't it 100% kidded?) and is the background for a murder implicating Ivan Lebedeff, cast as an impossible gigolo.
• • Marjorie Gateson is the femme menace, likewise a farcical version.
• • Gilbert Emery as Winslow, financial accountant of her properties, and Fred Kohler, Sr., as the heavy, alone have some semblance of realism.
• • "He's a Wicked Man But He Loves So Good" and "Now I'm a Lady" are two numbers, done more or less incidentally, and distinguished principally by the brass work in the orchestrations.
• • Star endeavors to square the general script inanites by a tongue-in-cheek treatment, but it's done too McCoy to impart any other impression. Role gives her ample opportunity to strut a flock of glad rags.
• • • • Abel. Variety, originally published on 15 May 1935
• • • • Paramount production and release. Stars Mae West. Directed by Alexander Hall. Produced by William LeBaron. Original by Marlon Morgan and George B. Dowell; screen play and dialog. Miss West. Songs, Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal; camera, Karl Struss. At the Paramount N.Y., week of May 10, 1935. Running time, 75 minutes.
• • Cleo Borden . . . Mae West
• • Edward Barrington . . . Paul Cavanagh
• • Ivan Veladov . . . Ivan Lebedeff
• • Taho . . . Tito Coral
• • Mrs. Crane Brittony . . . Marjorie Gateson
• • Buck Gonzales . . . Fred Kohler, Sr.
• • Fletcher Colton . . . Monroe Owsley
• • Winslow . . . Gilbert Emery
• • Young Fellow . . . Grant Withers
• • Annette . . . Adrienne D'Ambricourt
• • Signor Vitola . . . Luis Alberni
• • Senor Ricardo Lopez . . . Lucio Villegas
• • Dolores Lopez . . . Mona Rico
• • Donovan . . . Paul Hervey
• • Sheriff . . . Francis Ford
• • Ranch Foreman . . . Wade Boteler

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1935 • •
Mae West.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mae West: Edward Friedman

It was exactly 75 years ago — — on 16 January 1934 — — that MAE WEST gave testimony in the trial of Edward Friedman, who had robbed her.
• • This coverage appeared in the Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express:
• • Amid a chorus of masculine and feminine "oh's" and "ah's," alluring Mae West herself, a riot of color and beauty, swept thorough the courtroom of Judge Harry Sewell this morning in a grand entrance before her audience, took the witness stand and told her story of how she was robbed of $12,000 worth of diamonds and $3,400 in cash.
• • Her appearance was that of the complaining star witness at the trial of Edward Friedman, charged with being one of the robber gang, and it created as much of a sensation in the crowded courtroom as at any Mae West premiere.
• • "The man with the gun said to me, ‘Give me the poke,'" Miss West testified.
• • "My purse was on the seat beside me and the bandit reached over for it. I figured he wanted it, so I picked it up and gave it to him."
• • Here the lovely Mae illustrated with lavish gestures and with the aid of a brocade purse how she generously handed over her purse to a man with the gun.
• • But if she had figured that was to save her sparklers, it was a wrong move, she admitted ruefully.
• • "Then he said, ‘Give me that ring,'" she continued. "So I did. It was a diamond ring."
• • At this moment a court recess was called. Mae's screen of protective detectives and investigators closed in around her. They were there, to see that no gangster took a shot at her because of telephone threats made against her, but they acted as gallant lackeys as well.
• • "Wouldn't you like a drink of water" asked the first lucky man to reach the side of the attractive screen siren.
• • "Here's a seat for you, Miss West," interrupted another.
• • "I'm all right, boys — there's nothing wrong with me," purred the golden-haired Mae. "I'm feeling fine."
• • A Diamond Pendant Shaped Like a Champagne Bottle • •
• • The missing jewels, she already has complained, included a diamond pendant shaped like a champagne bottle, with the "laughing water" fizzing from its mouth; a diamond bracelet two inches wide and a diamond ring. The cash represented a week's pay for working in the movies.
• • Today she said she didn't want her "rocks" back, but only to find out who really took them.
Her bodyguard, Detective Lieutenants Joe Filkas and Frank "Lefty" James, were fulfilling their pleasurable task as a result of couple of anonymous telephone calls received by the blonde heroine of She Done Him Wrong and other screen hits, demanding that she stay away from Friedman's trial — — "or else."
• • However, those calls didn't bother the nonchalant Mae.
• • "I asked the guy who called me ‘So what?' and hung up on him," she drawled. "Say, phony calls and letters and stuff like that are all a part of a day's mail. I should get hot and bothered ...'
• • She said the man who called her had a 'heavy' voice.
• • "But that don't make him unusual, like a circus exhibit, exactly. Lotsa guys have deep voices, seems like I've observed," she added.
• • Friedman is said to have admitted the robbery, but later repudiated the confession, claiming it was given during a 'third degree' by police.
• • The other men also were indicted with him — Morris Cohen, alleged Detroit gangster, and Harry Voiler, who was with Miss West as a friend at the time the holdup was perpetrated. It was Voiler, according to Friedman's admission, who hired him to hold up Miss West. He is now in Chicago fighting extradition. Cohen never has been found.
— — Source: 1/16/1934 Evening Herald and Express — —

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mae West: 15 January 1936

It was 15 January 1936 and MAE WEST was feeling the chill.
• • Her ally Emanuel Cohen [1892 — 1977] had packed up his bags at Paramount, which started to feel as friendly and cozy as the North Pole under the new studio boss Ernst Lubitsch.
• • Born in Berlin in the month of January [on 28 January 1892], Ernst Lubitsch had a domineering manner that quickly cooled cordial relations with many individuals under the Paramount Pictures roof. Appearing one day in Mae West's on-set dressing room to scold her, Ernst Lubitsch soon found himself hammered by a hand mirror. As he beat a retreat, a group of extras cheered the outcome.
• • Despite the momentary satisfaction Mae must have felt, before long Variety Magazine was reporting doom and gloom on Hollywood and Vine.
• • According to Variety — — issued on 15 January 1936 — — Mae West had been warned that she must strictly follow orders and that Paramount's production chief would not tolerate any challenges or deviations. Several directors found letters to that effect in their mailboxes as well.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mae West: Until Jan. 17th

If you have not yet seen the sweet selection of images that artist Michael Gregg Michaud has done of MAE WEST, you have until 17 January 2009 only.
• • Awaiting you is an amusing exhibition on Mae West at the Lora Schlesinger Gallery in Santa Monica in the Bergamot Station neighborhood. No admission charge.
• •The gallery is located here: 2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404; call this number to get the schedule: T. 310-828-1133.
• • If you cannot come up to see Mae on the West Coast, then visit online.
• • Lora Schlesinger Gallery
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • by Michael Gregg Michaud • •
Mae West.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mae West: PW

Publishers Weekly offered a capsule review of a new title devoted to Mae West.
• • Speaking about the author Charlotte Chandler's latest release, the critic wrote this: Chandler (Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford) draws on her interviews with the 86-year-old Mae West, known for her “risqué brand of humor,” in this chatty memoir. West carefully constructed and guarded the image of her personality as a woman who enjoyed sex at a time when “skirts had to cover ankles.” She contended she was “never vulgar. The word for me was suggestive.”
• • West (1893–1980) craved the spotlight from a young age and had been a success in vaudeville, where she began to write her own material. Her screen legend perfected her sexually playful alter ego in such films as She Done Him Wrong, which contained her most quoted line: “Come up and see me sometime” [sic].
• • Chandler also includes Mae West's first-person account of her 10 days in jail — — when she was found guilty of producing an immoral Broadway show, her first full-length play, Sex. West remained a box-office draw into her 70s, appearing in the 1970 film Myra Breckinridge. Whether discussing her love life or advising on playwriting or beauty tips, Mae West was always entertaining. Photos. (Feb.)
• • Title reviewed: She Always Knew How: Mae West, a Personal Biography Charlotte Chandler. [NY: Simon & Schuster (336p) ISBN 978-1-4165-7909-0]
— — Source: — —
• • Article: PW's Nonfiction Reviews
• • Printed in: Publishers Weekly
• • Printed on: 12 January 2009
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

• • "Courting Mae West" features intriguing scenes dramatizing Mae's arrest and trials.
• • Offered onstage July 19th22nd in New York City during the Annual Fresh Fruit Festival, "Courting Mae West" has been nominated for several awards. The black-tie awards gala will take place during April 2009 in Manhattan.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • b/w detail from sketches for the Courting Mae West Comic • •
Mae West.