Friday, April 18, 2014

Mae West: Steals the Show

Harry Richman wrote about Mae West in 1934
"MAE WEST Steals the Show" ran the headline in mid-April 1962. She liked the odds, she admitted, because she was the sole female attendee among 500 gentlemen — — breaking a long tradition of no women at the Friar stag parties.  Put on the Ritz and revisit this gala occasion, shall we?
• • Hollywood, April 17 — (AP)— Reporter James Bacon wrote: Mae West made a surprise visit to a Friars Club stag testimonial last night and wiggled off with the show, the only women among 500 men, including some of the nation’s top comics and song writers, who gathered to pay tribute to Harry Richman, a show business great.
• • The syndicated columnist explained:  Near the end of the show, Mae West, with her famous strut, ambled onto the platform and sexily glanced over the house. ”I like the odds.” she quipped. “Wall to wall men.” Mae recalled that Harry Richman got his start in show business as her piano player in 1922.
• • James Bacon noted:  Her surprise appearance, tradition-breaking at Friar stag testimonials, so shook up Richman that he forgot to sing when his turn came. “Mae always was a tough act to follow,” Richman confessed. After the party was over, Richman sat down at a piano and belted out “Sunny Side of the Street,” a song he first introduced on Broadway. Among performers who paid homage to Harry Richman were George Jessel, George Burns, Bob Hope. Jimmy Durante, Jack Oakie, and James Mason.
• • Source:  Syndicated column rpt in The Kansas City Star; published on Tuesday, 17 April 1962.
• • On Thursday, 18 April 1935 • •
• • "Mae West Wants Everything to Be Clean" • •
• • Mae West told a foreign journalist: "I'm for clean pictures and clean everything."
• • Source: Article in The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld); published on Thursday, 18 April 1935.
• • On 18 April 1969 in Life Magazine • •
• • Nationally, the news racks on 18 April 1969 held the iconic issue of Life Magazine with Mae West front and center [1969 cover price: 40 cents].
• • On page 60 was this headline: "Mae West: A Cherished, Bemusing Masterpiece of Self–Preservation Plans a Movie and a TV Show and Looks Back Over 75 Very Full Years" — — and Life's exclusive interview was done by veteran news man Richard Meryman. Reflecting on his 20 hours of conversations with the screen legend, Richard Meryman acknowledged with admiration Mae's "mind-spinning version of the world."
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West says she will not do another movie "until something really great comes along."
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Tell him I use all my spare time making myself beautiful."
• • Mae West said: "A curved line is the loveliest distance between two points"
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Hollywood columnist Erskine Johnson interviewed Mae West
• • "Mae West's Fulltime Career Now Is Fighting the Battle of Age" • •
• • Erskine Johnson wrote:  Her life in the present is amazing enough to team her in song with Rock Hudson on last year's Oscar telecast and to take her, in exchange for big money, to Las Vegas currently to star in the floor show of the Sahara Hotel. In her act. she has those musclemen on her leash again and they will chorus: "Let's Try Mae West for President." Some lyrics are: "When she slips out of her sable / And leans across the table / Even Khrushchev will lose his self-command."  . . .
• • Source:  Syndicated column "Hollywood Today" written by Erskine Johnson rpt in The Corpus Christi Caller-Times; published on Tuesday, 31 March 1959
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2895th 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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• • Mae West with Harry Richman

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mae West: Broadway Bouquets

MAE WEST received many bouquets in ink when her play "Diamond Lil" debuted on Broadway. The reviews published in April 1928, when Mae was just breaking in her striped corset and settling in to her swan bed, are the most insightful.
• • This is the final installment of a lengthy critique written by the influential New York based syndicated columnist Leonard Hall.
• • "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" • •
• • Leonard Hall wrote: Now detonates "Diamond Lil," latest in the Mae West lethal line.  The new opera is of the brand that only Mae writes and acts, Diamond Lil, girl friend of the King of the Bowery. All the characters are wild, wise-cracking, and no better than they should be. 
• • Among the songs are a revival of "She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage" and a pale pink version of the immortal "Frankie and Johnnie."
• • No Girlish Lines • •
• • Leonard Hall wrote: Mae West is a sight in herself.  Gone are the old girlish lines. Mae is buxom now, opulently curved. A great mass of blond hair crowns a large, pretty face, from which languorous violet eyes dart destruction at any and all males in the vicinity. Just to see the girl walk is a liberal education, for she doesn't really walk, she slithers in the most astonishing fashion. Censors come, dry up and blow away on the winds of time and change, but Mae West goes on forever. She is the great tang-inserter of the Broadway theater. Just as the season gets dull and prosy, in undulates the Mae West with one of her three ring circuses and the fun is on.  ...   
• • Source: Syndicated review "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" written by Leonard Hall rpt on page 12 in The Scranton Republican (Scranton, PA); published on Monday, 16 April 1928.
• • On Saturday, 17 April 1937 • •
• • "Mae West Disappears — Star in Retreat" • •
• • From London, the snippy, snooty British gossip columnist Greville Bain wrote: It cannot have escaped the notice of the film public that it is a long while since we had any news or even rumors of Mae West.
• • Greville Bain stated his own opinion on this: Even her greatest admirers had to admit that Miss West's more recent pictures were not calculated to enhance her reputation. Not so long ago she was said to vie with Shirley Temple as the greatest film attraction in the United States.  ...
• • Source: Article: "Mae West Disappears" by Greville Bain in The Advertiser (Adelaide); published on Saturday, 17 April 1937.
• • On Thursday, 17 April 2014 in Germany • •
• • "Hollywood is here" featuring Mae West
• • Here: LUMI LUIS Foto Studio Atelier and Art Gallery (Eisenacherstr. 11, Berlin, Germany)
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • In 1922, thanks to the city of Santa Monica's decision to not buy a stretch of beachfront property on the Pacific Coast Highway, many of Marion's more well-heeled friends began building "dignified" mansions on the sandy strip.
• • In time Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Mae West, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel and Francis Goldwyn, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg, Anita Loos, Bebe Daniels, Jack Warner, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Paulette Goddard would all have homes on what was dubbed by some "The Gold Coast."
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "A guy in Iowa wanted me to send him $500 to start a barber shop. Says he has invented a special Mae West haircut. I told him I'm sorry, but $500 is too much to pay for a haircut."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A syndicated Hollywood columnist spoke to Mae West.
• • "Mae West — Wisecracks Fill Her Conversation" • •
• • Paul Harrison, NEA Service Staff Correspondent for Hollywood, scored a fascinating interview with Mae West. He told his readers that No other screen star receives a more diversified assortment of requests, pleas, suggestions, and queries. Miss West is doing very well for herself as the writer and star of a picture to be called "Klondike Lou." Naturally, too, she is pretty good.
• • Paul Harrison explained: Between scenes she usually can be found scanning letters in her dressing, room and dictating, or suggesting answers to a "secretary." Also, there's a circle of admirers within earshot, and Mae always expands before an audience.
• • "Here's a guy says he's going to name a gold mine after me. Tell him it would be a big mistake.  I'm a digger, not a producer."
• • Paul Harrison added: Once an editor of a small weekly paper asked Mae to send him one of her diamond rings, so he can give it to his girl friend. Mae suggested, "Write and ask him for the girl's name and address, and I'll send her five good reasons why she shouldn't marry him." Mae revealed another letter:  "A man says he'll send me a complete and absolutely sensational scenario if I'll send him $1,000 first. Tell him I'm terribly, terribly hurt that he doesn't seem to trust me. And as for me, I never trust men anyway."   . . .
• • Source:  rpt in Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio); published on Thursday, 3 January 1936
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2894th 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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• • Mae West in April 1928

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mae West: Remarkable Voltage

MAE WEST was drawing renewed interest from critics and theatre buffs when her play "Diamond Lil" opened on Broadway. The reviews published in April 1928, when Mae was just getting used to her frisky role as Queen of the Bowery, are the most insightful. Here's the New York based syndicated columnist Leonard Hall, telling his readers what he thought.
• • "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" • •
• • "Star of Several Censored Shows Tries Scorching New Production" • •
• • Leonard Hall wrote: Mae West, the Big Bad Girl of Broadway, is with us again — — Mae of the rolling eye, the undulating hip, the gaudy entertainments. She opened her newest show, "Diamond Lil," at the Royale theater here, and the Main Stem still is roaring.
• • A specialty dancer of remarkable voltage • •
• • Leonard Hall explained: Mae West certainly is one of the most astonishing characters the American theater ever has produced. She came to light about ten years ago as a specialty dancer of remarkable voltage. For a season she appeared in the Rudolf Firml musical hit, "Sometime," and very nearly stole the show from under the emerging Ed Wynn.
• • Leonard Hall continued: Then came the shimmy mania, and that was the beginning of the end of the first phase of Mae West. She shook herself all over the variety stages of the republic. But such novelties have a way of dying very suddenly, and remaining extraordinarily dead, and when the shimmy passed out Mae checked out with it, and was no more seen.
• • To the Workhouse • •
• • Leonard Hall noted: A year or two ago, out of the mist of obscurity, came a new Mae West. She came slam banging to Broadway with a show called "Sex," which ran for months here on the strength of heavy patronage by curious flappers and cake-eaters. At last the censors clamped down on Mae's piece of drama and, after a court trial, the writer-star was sent to the workhouse for 10 days. A little thing like a term in the hoosegow didn't slow Mae. In no time at all she was back in the ring with another affair called "The Drag." Next came "This Wicked Age" [sic], another typical Mae West torch.  . . .
• • This lengthy drama review by Leonard Hall will be continued tomorrow.
• • Source: Syndicated review "Flamin' Mae Hits Broadway" written by Leonard Hall rpt in The Scranton Republican (Scranton, PA); published on Monday, 16 April 1928. 
• • About the song sheet: By July 1928, on the grounds that this show tune cost too much, Mae had scrapped the theme song "Diamond Lil," which had been written for the April 1928 premiere by a Mark Linder ally, Robert Sterling. She substituted an older royalty-free song "Heart of the Bowery."
• • On Monday, 16 April 1928 • •
• • This is from Carl Van Vechten's journal entry for Monday, 16 April 1928. Van Vechten wrote: I read proofs all the morning. Lunch in ... Then to see Mae West in "Diamond Lil," which I adored. Miss West is marvelous. Saw Edna Ferber between acts.
• • Source: "The Splendid Drunken Twenties: Selections from the Daybooks, 1922 — 1930" by Carl Van Vechten.
• • On Wednesday, 16 April 1947 in The L.A. Times • •
• • "Court Tilt Won by Mae West" was the headline in The Los Angeles Times on 16 April 1947. Two authors had sued Mae West and Mike Todd over the authorship of "Catherine Was Great."
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West will revive ’’The Drag” — — the controversial play she wrote in the early 1930s [sic] — — after her Sahara engagement in Las Vegas, announced Hollywood columnist Erskine Johnson (on 6 January 1955).
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "A girl asked me what to do because she's in love but the boy won't pay her any mind. She's wasting her time.  If the boy doesn't recognize love when he sees it, he isn't worth recognizing himself."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The newspapers in Cootamundra, Australia mentioned Mae West.
• • "Mae West — In Town Tonight" • •    
• • Mae West, the famous American film star, broadcasting in the British Broadcasting Corporation's magazine programme "In Town Tonight."
• • Miss West is not at all like the woman she portrays in "Diamond Lil," at present running successfully at London's Prince of Wales's Theatre.  She neither drinks or smokes. Off-stage she has an ordinary voice, minus all the sibilance and huskiness that has made her "come up and see me sometime" invitation so memorable.
• • Miss West began her stage career when she was five. And she had finished her education by the time she was ten years old. At fourteen years old, she was playing parts onstage and she wore cut velvet gowns and sashayed about the stage in the slinking fashion that has since become world famous. She knows the type of vehicle that best suits her and now writes her own plays.
• • Mae West is perhaps the only actress to have given her name to an article of service dress, the inflatable life-jacket that airmen wore to keep themselves afloat in the sea and which Is highly reminiscent of her generous curves.  . . .
• • Source:  Article in Cootamundra Daily Herald (NSW); published on Monday, 7 June 1948
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started nine years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2893rd 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 April 1928

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