Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mae West: Leonard McCombe

During the Oscar rehearsals in late March 1958, MAE WEST was caught by the candid camera of Life Magazine photographer Leonard McCombe.  He was a fly on the wall that year as stars from Mae West, Rock Hudson, Russ Tamblyn, Paul Newman, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Kirk Douglas came by to rehearse for the big event.
• • Leonard McCombe [1923 — — ] • •
• • Born in 1923 on the Isle of Man, off the coast of England, Leonard McCombe was able to create provocative images naturally.  His abilities led him to become a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society at age 21.   Through World War II, his images preserved the struggles and triumphs of the day.   In 1945, at age 22, he began working for Life Magazine.  By 1948, McCombe’s role in the US was solidified as a photographer for LIFE.  In an article for Getty Images printed in 2006, McCombe was described as "now reclusive."
• • Photo [below and left]: Mae West and Rock Hudson playfully snuggle while rehearsing the flirty pop standard, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," as Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences  president George Seaton glances over.
• • Photo [above and centered]: Russ Tamblyn, 23-year-old Best Supporting Actor nominee for "Peyton Place," stands in a group with other actors. But to the lower right of the frame Mae West looks over the script with Rock Hudson. Notice the eyeglasses (prescription sunglasses) worn by Mae West. 
• • George Seaton [17 April 1911 — 28 July 1979] was an American screenwriter, playwright, film director and producer, and theatre director. In addition to his direct involvement in making movies, George Seaton was also very active within Hollywood organizations as President of the Screenwriter's Guild, President of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences (1955 — 1958), and Vice President of the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
• • On Monday, 26 March 1934 • •
• • The soundtrack to the motion picture "Belle of the Nineties" was recorded at Hollywood Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. On Monday, 26 March 1934, Mae West did the vocals for "Hesitation Blues" backed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.
• • On Wednesday, 26 March 1958 • •
• • Rock Hudson, age 32, and Mae West performed the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” together, in point style, at the 30th Annual Academy Awards on Wednesday, 26 March 1958.
• • The 1957 Academy Awards were presented at the RKO Pantages Theatre, Hollywood, California and broadcast on NBC-TV.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West is now working on her new contract by the terms of which she gets $100,000 a picture.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "It cheers you up. Every time you see yourself in one of those table mirrors you get the feeling you're in the money. Cute, isn't it?"
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Stanford Daily mentioned Mae West.
• • "Organizers for movie festival find surprises in hooker trends" • •
• • "We go to movies when we're young and we don't realize what formula we're being fed," said Lottie Da. "Sexually motivated women were usually shown as French or German. That was Hollywood's way of dealing with it. It was hard to show the all-American girl coming across." One of the featured films is a seldom-shown Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart classic, "Marked Woman." Lottie Da praised the film for showing women in a courageous role, but said that it minces by using the term "nightclub hostess" instead of prostitute.
• • "Klondike Annie" and "Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise," two other selections, present strong women characters, Da said, but they hedge on sexual realism. She said Mae West at the end of "Klondike Annie" is forced to say she's sorry for her life of sin and Miss Garbo at the end of Susan Lenox begs Clark Gable for forgiveness.  ...
• • Source: Article in The Stanford Daily; published on Tuesday, 29 March 1977
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •    
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this past decade. The other day we entertained 1,430 visitors. We reached a milestone recently when we completed 3,100 blog posts. Wow! 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3143rd 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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• • Photo:
• • Mae West • in March 1958

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mae West: John Mason Brown

Drama critic John Mason Brown wrote several fascinating articles about MAE WEST including a feature for The New York Post printed 82 years ago on Saturday,  25 March 1933.  “Sex is for her a cartoon which she delights in animating,” he told his readership.
• • John Mason Brown [3 July 1900 — 16 March 1969] • •
• • Born on Tuesday, 3 July 1900 in Louisville, Kentucky,  John Mason Brown earned his bachelor's from Harvard in 1923. He worked for the New York Evening Post from 1929 — 1941.
• • "Diamond Lil" — vivid and extraordinary • •
• • Reviewing "Diamond Lil" on Broadway in 1928 for Theatre Arrts Monthly, Brown wrote that Mae's 3-hour Bowery melodrama had "one of the most forgetful plots of recent years." Then he added, "Sorry and wooden as 'Diamond Lil' is as a script, it is little short of phenomenal in the considerable opportunities it provides Mae West as an actress.  . ..  West's Lil is the acme of the hard-boiled, and the epitome of deliberation, but of its kind it is peerless, so vivid and extraordinary, that it much more than justifies a visit to the play." Seeing the play again in 1949, Brown wrote: "Without her, 'Diamond Lil' would be nothing at all. With her, it is Mae West."
• • "She Done Him Wrong" — clever use of allusions • •
• • On Saturday, 25 March 1933, another interesting newspaper article was printed, this time in a daily newspaper, The New York Post.  John Mason Brown had gone to see the play's cinema version, released by Paramount Picture.  His article was: “Mae West as an Actress on the Stage and Screen — Her Performance in 'She Done Him Wrong'.”    His New York Post essay on Mae West illustrated the clever use of allusions that characterized his writing. He noted that West's characters conquer too easily: "One slight roll of her Police Gazette figure, four measured tosses of her unholy head, and every man for miles around is supposed to be hers."
• • Upon his return from military service, Brown's column "Seeing Things" appeared in The Saturday Review starting in 1944 until his death (1969) in New York City.
• • "Mae Pourquoi?" • •
• • John Mason Brown also wrote "Seeing Things: Mae Pourquoi" for The Saturday Review [pp 50—52], a column published on Sunday, 9 October 1949.
• • In 1951, Toledo Blade book reviewer Shirley Harrison wrote:  In addition to having a sharp and versatile pen, John Mason Brown has range, perceptibility, interest, background, and human sympathy.  He is as interested in Mae West as he is in Charles Lamb; as analytical of Laurence Olivier's Hamlet as he is cognizant of the greatness of "Death of a Salesman." ...
• • John Mason Brown died in New York City on Sunday, 16 March 1969.  Twelve years later he was elected to the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
• • On Tuesday, March 25 1924 in San Antonio History • •
• • On Tuesday, 25 March 1924 Mae West appeared on a vaudeville program at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas.
• • On Friday, 25 March 1977 • •
• • From Monday, 6 December 1976 until Friday, 25 March 1977 — — this was the shooting schedule in Hollywood for "Sextette," starring eighty-three-year-old movie star, Mae West in her final screen role [citation from the book "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the Who 1958 — 1978" written by Andrew Neill, Matthew Kent, Roger Daltrey, Chris Stamp].
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper will appear in one picture each per year.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "I don't give myself any credit for that. I'm just that way — so stubborn and difficult once I get an idea into my head."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Stage mentioned Mae West.
• • "Up from Tumbling" • •
• • Katharine Best wrote:   Cary Grant is one of Hollywood's most vociferous spokesmen for glamour, but it hasn't gotten him anywhere.  Between 1929 and 1937, he appeared with Glamour Girls Jeanette MacDonald, Queenie Smith, Fay Wray, Lili Damita, Carole Lombard, Nancy Carroll, Sylvia Sidney, Tallulah Bankhead, Marlene Dietrich, Loretta Young, Elissa Landi, Myrna Loy, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Jean Harlow, Grace Moore, and Mae West, twice — — but they didn't get him anywhere.   . . .  [Huh?? What??]
• • Source: Article in The Stage written by Katharine Best; published in April 1939 
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •    
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this past decade. The other day we entertained 1,430 visitors. We reached a milestone recently when we completed 3,100 blog posts. Wow! 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3142nd 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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• • Photo:
• • Mae West • as Diamond Lil in 1928

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mae West: Syd Saylor

An enormous international cast was assembled to do justice to MAE WEST's ambitious screenplay "Now I'm a Lady" centered around the horsey set. Script approval was granted by the Hays Commission on 1 April 1935 and the motion picture had its USA release by Paramount Pictures on Friday, 25 April 1935 under a new title — —  "Goin' to Town."
• • The production began shortly before Christmas on  Wednesday, 19 December 1934. On Friday, 4 January 1935, Francois B. de Valdez was hired as technical adviser on South American sequences. The film wrapped up a month later on Saturday, 9 February 1935.  Syd Saylor played  a cowboy.  The actor was born in the month of March — — on March 24th.
• • Syd Saylor [24 March 1895 — 21 December 1962] • •
• • Born in Chicago, Illinois on Sunday, 24 March 1895 as "Leo Sailor," this little boy lost his father George, a notable engineer, to the devastating San Francisco earthquake in 1906.  Alas, George Sailor was never seen again.  His Uncle Ed tutored him, advising him to pursue the dramatic arts. Another uncle, who had been with Mack Sennett's comedy troupe, The Keystone Kops, encouraged him to break into the film trade.  When Syd went to the West Coast, his uncle used his connections to help him break in. In 1926 he played a tramp in a silent movie, a Western called "The Winking Idol."
• • Between 1926 — 1963, he was seen in about 395 motion pictures and numerous TV series.
• • The five-foot-ten character actor, whose trademark was his stuttering speech, bulging eyes, and a protruding Adam's apple that bobbed up and down, worked steadily. He appeared in everything from comedies, westerns, and dramas often cast as the bartender, cabbie, clerk, clown, customer, drunk, milkman, morgue attendant, patient, postman, prisoner, sheriff, theatre goer, tour guide, townsman, vendor, waiter, and the hero's sidekick.
• • In 1935, he had the privilege of working with Mae West; he was one of the cowboys in "Goin' to Town."
• • In the early 1960s, the prolific bit parts player bid farewell to his fans by portraying a Soda Shop Owner in a big screen Sci-Fi pleaser "The Crawling Hand" [released 1963] — — and during the filming he got to rub shoulders with another former Mae West cast mate, Kent Taylor who romanced  the daring circus star, Tira, in "I'm No Angel" in the role of the wealthy suitor Kirk Lawrence (the playboy with the jealous girlfriend whom Tira spits on).
• • Working right up to the end, Syd Saylor suffered a fatal heart attack in Hollywood, California. He died on Friday, 21 December 1962. He was 67.
• • On Saturday, 24 March 1934 in California • •
• • The recording of "My Old Flame" performed by Mae West, backed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, took place on Saturday, 24 March 1934.
• • Initially, it was released on an audio single. "My Old Flame" was first heard in the motion picture "Belle of the Nineties" [Paramount Pictures, 1934].
• • On Saturday, 24 March 1934 in Sydney • •
• • The Sydney Morning Herald announced on page 10, in the issue dated for Saturday, 24 March 1934, that "I'm No Angel" with Mae West is at the Prince Edward Theatre. "This Day and Age" is on the same programme.
• • On Saturday, 24 March 1951 in NYC • •
• • Billboard Magazine ran this item: NEW YORK, March 24 — Monte Proser is negotiating with Mae West to star in a cabaret version of "Diamond Lil" for his Cafe Theater. If the deal jells, "Lil" will come in to replace the current "Billion Dollar Baby," which is on a week-to-week notice.
• • On Tuesday, 24 March 1970 in Look Magazine • •
• • "Raquel Welch, Mae West Talk about Men, Morals and Myra Breckinridge," on page 45 in Look Magazine's weekly issue dated for Tuesday, 24 March 1970.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • It takes more than merely acting to become a national figure — an emblem — which, strange and contradictory as it may seem, is exactly what Mae West is.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "I like my sexes stable."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Desert Sun mentioned Mae West.
• • Fly Western to the fun capital! It's showtime in Las Vegas.
• • EL RANCHO VEGAS has a French Review!
• • RIVIERA has George Gobel!
• • SAHARA has Mae West!
• • Also  FLAMINGO — Giselle Mac Kenzie; DESERT INN —Jimmy Durante; SANDS —Johnny Mathis; STARDUST — Lido de Paris; THUNDERBIRD — China Doll; TROPICANA — Spike Jones
• • Source: Ad in The Desert Sun; published on Tuesday, 24 March 1959 
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 10th anniversary • •    
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during this past decade. The other day we entertained 1,430 visitors. We reached a milestone recently when we completed 3,100 blog posts. Wow! 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3141st 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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• • Photo:
• • Mae West • in 1935

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  Mae West