Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mae West: Redhead Beldame

MAE WEST had such a long talk with John Moffitt that his series on her ran through the month of December in newspapers around the world. Here we pick up the pieces from yesterday.
• • "Mae West's First Audiences Were Church Socials" • •
• • John C. Moffitt Tells the Story of Mae West • •
• • John C. Moffitt explained:  That was what was in the mother's mind when she kept saying, "Let her alone. She's different," every time her husband wanted to slap the little prodigy's ears.  Mae was to be a public institution.  
• • The "I Don't Care!" Motto • •
• • John C. Moffitt wrote: Her mother took her to the vaudeville shows and made her study the Brooklyn idols: George M. Cohan, Eddie Foy, Bert Williams, and Eva Tanguay. Eva was Mrs. West's particular idol. Everybody talked about Eva Tanguay. Her picture was in the Sunday supplements. Eva wasn't much of a dancer and she was beginning to get old. But she had good looking legs and a dress made out of dollar bills. A red-headed beldame, she would strut about the stage, pummeling her fists into the backdrop and screaming, "I don't care! I don't care!" That was the "It" of the pre-Elinor-Glyn era.
• • John C. Moffitt noted: "I Don't Care!" was Eva's theme song. The country repeated it. Men leered over it on street corners . . . . "Some day my baby's going to be like that, Tillie would say, and Little Mae took it to heart. Already she had a motto for her escutcheon.
• • John C. Moffitt added: Mae's father still didn't like all this theatrical business. He didn't like spoiled children. How was he to know it was going to lead to his having a fruit ranch in California? He was sorry Mae wasn't a boy. But that didn't keep him from teaching her how to box and do acrobatics. Mae can still wallop a punching bag away from its moorings. When a Hollywood trainer was assigned by the studio to "put her in shape," and called at her apartment, she astounded him, she said, by lifting him up to the ceiling with one hand.
• • Mugging and Plugging • •
• • John C. Moffitt observed:  It is comforting to know that pugilistic Jack West, although he was howled down at most of the family conferences, did succeed in having some effect on his celebrated daughter.  ...
• • This is Part 2. The article will continue tomorrow.
• • Source:  The Straits Times (Singapore); published on Sunday, 25 November 1934.
• • On Thursday, 26 November 1931 • •
• • The New York Herald Tribune reported on the intense displeasure to white Washingtonians when Mae West brought her Harlem play "The Constant Sinner" to D.C. where the local D.A. was Leo K. Rover. Leo roared about the profanity and the dances performed by the black cast. The D.A., apparently, had been telling the media he would "arrest the entire company of fifty one if another performance were given," noted the Herald Tribune on Thursday, 26 November 1931. Racism reared its head.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Comedy Parade Tops "Town" Date • •
• • Comedy parade was staged by Irv Stein, Bay Theatre, Green Bay, Wis., on Mae West's latest, leading off with police escort and 25 high school boys in a marathon race starting at the theatre. Boys wore "Goin' to Town" back banners and were followed by another riding donkey bannered with "don't be an ass" copy.  Other youngsters on old-fashioned tandem bikes and tricycles carrying gag comedy banners also took part.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "You see the speakeasy influence. Sit at a table, dearie, I always say. And don't forget your frills and ruffles and anything else that feminizes you."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Independent mentioned Mae West.
• • Neil Norman wrote: On radio, Charlie sparred with Mae West, W C Fields and Orson Welles among others and became a star in his own in right.  ...
• • Source: Article in The Independent [U.K.]; published on Saturday, 26 November 2005
• • 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 1,223 visitors. 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3057th 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 1932 and as a child actress

• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mae West: Church Socials

MAE WEST told John Moffitt that her first audiences were people who came to visit her mother. His interview captured many fascinating details that escaped other journalists — — such as how Tillie would discipline little Mae.
• • During 1934, a number of journalists had scored a detailed one-on-one interview with the movie queen. Ruth Biery's 3-part-article is the one most often quoted by Mae's biographers, therefore, best known.
• • But by far, the sexiest and most revealing is the lengthy interview she gave to John Moffitt. Journalist and columnist John Moffitt went on to serve as Ed Sullivan's assistant director, when Sullivan (once a news man, too) transitioned to TV.
• • John Moffitt must have been very handsome, you think as you read all the juicy bits he scooped up, like Mae's affair with a NYC schoolteacher who would keep his willing blue-eyed pupil after class, call her a "naughty girl," pull her onto his lap, and administer a "punishment" that got them both overheated. Was this the teacher who initiated Mae's first intimate encounter? Hmmm.
• • "Mae West's First Audiences Were Church Socials" • •
• • John C. Moffitt Tells the Story of Mae West • •
• • John C. Moffitt wrote: Mae West's mother had never read those sections in the magazines that are headed "What to Do When Company Comes." So her methods of entertainment were bizarre and it was all some of the guests could do to stomach them.
• • John C. Moffitt continued: As soon as the callers were comfortably settled in the parlour, little Mae was called in to do her imitations. At first, little Mae, who usually had been hiding in the dining room scrupulously studied the callers, would merely imitate her audience.  If a woman had been funny about her rubbers or about handing up her coat, little Mae would bounce in and mimic her fit6 to kill! Oddly enough, this did not always go over so big. It was necessary for the child to acquire a more professional repertoire.
• • At the Age of Three • •
• • John C. Moffitt observed: Mrs. Matilda West seems to have been one of those women, not uncommon in her generation, who regarded the stage as the height of all human aspirations. As soon as Mrs. West noted that little Mae had golden hair and an assertive personality, she encouraged her in all the little smartnesses that might mean theatrical talent. When Mae was three, the family and the neighborhood had been subjugated by her mother into a more or less stoical audience.
• • John C. Moffitt explained:  That was what was in the mother's mind when she kept saying, "Let her alone. She's different," every time her husband wanted to slap the little prodigy's ears.  Mae was to be a public institution.   . . .
• • This is Part 1. The article will continue tomorrow.
• • Source:  The Straits Times (Singapore); published on Sunday, 25 November 1934.
• • On Saturday, 25 November 1911 in Variety • •
• • The opening night cast of  "Vera Violetta" at the Winter Garden did not include the misbehaving  and Gaby-upstaging Mae West. Her antics during the out-of-town try-outs brought about her dismissal. Variety (perhaps without knowing it) printed a face-saving explanation in their issue dated for Saturday, 25 November 1911, indicating Mae had pneumonia. Hmmm, no doubt brought about by standing in an icy draft when Gaby Deslys opened her mouth wide and blasted her.
• • On Tuesday, 25 November 1947 in Australia • •
• • Australia's Savoy Theatre announced "Maurice Chevalier, Mae West now showing together on the same programme!! We have turned back the clock and from 1934 have brought you the Happiest Entertainment of 1934 — — Maurice Chevalier, Jeannette MacDonald, Charlie Ruggles in "One Hour With You" and also Mae West, Cary Grant, Edward Arnold in "I'm No Angel" now at these times . . .
• • Source: The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday, 25 November 1947.
• • On Thursday, 25 November 1943 in NYC • •
• • Bouquets did not shower Mae West after her film "The Heat Is On" was released right before Christmas in December 1943. Trading on The Big Apple's fondness for the Brooklyn bombshell, this ill-fated project had a special New York City premiere on Thursday, 25 November 1943.
• • On Tuesday, 23 November 1980 • •
• • A private service for Mae West was held in the Old North Church replica, in Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, on Tuesday, 25 November 1980.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Mae West arrived in Hollywood on a "coffee and cakes" contract.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "I hear Marilyn and Jane are tryin' to build themselves up with their sex appeal. Well, they haven*t got what it takes. They're artificial. They haven't arrived yet."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The  Motion Picture Herald mentioned Mae West.
• • "Goin' to Town" starring Mae West — While this was not the production of "Belle of the Nineties," this did better for us at the box-office. Only thing I might suggest was that there was too much Mae West.  — — wrote Ivan W. Rowley, proprietor, Ward Theatre, Pismo Beach, California.
• • Source: Item in Motion Picture Herald;  published on Saturday, 6 July 1935 
• • 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 1,223 visitors. 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3056th 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 1908

• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Mae West: Cult Figure

MAE WEST was lionized in The Guardian, a London newspaper. Let's enjoy the column once more.
• • "The saucy looks that said it all" • •
• • Clancy Sigal remembers the inflatable, anti-hypocritical genius of the late Mae West.
• • "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."
• • "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you glad to see me?"
• • "When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better."
• • "Beulah, peel me a grape."
• • Clancy Sigal wrote:  It is tempting to remember Mae West only for her lines, verbal and visual. Her bold, sly use of innuendo and double entendre — — and her full-breasted body as a kind of slithery punctuation mark to her low-down humour — — made her a legend in her own time. It pleased her greatly when the RAF dubbed its inflatable life-jacket a "Mae West" during the second world war. By then, her showbiz career was virtually over.
• • Clancy Sigal noted:  She died a cult figure, a sex goddess from Hollywood's Golden Age who mercilessly subverted conventional morality by not only insisting, but demonstrating, that carnal pleasure was fun and could be guiltless. For West the only sin was hypocrisy.
• • Clancy Sigal wrote:  "I take it out in the open and laugh at it," she said à propos sex. Under those sequined, form-hugging, floor-length gowns she always wore was a fully self-conscious artist who wrote her own dialogue, produced her own plays, bossed her own movies.
• • Clancy Sigal continued:  "It isn't what I do, but how I do it," she said with accuracy. "It isn't what I say, but how I say it and how I look when I do it and say it."
• • A late-Victorian stage performer who survived • •
• • Clancy Sigal explained:  Essentially, West was a late-Victorian stage performer who survived into the atomic age because she was toughly independent as well as a comedienne of genius who understood, and was capable of exorcising, her audiences' sexual terrors. She was the Lenny Bruce of the 1930s.
• • She was always impersonating herself • •
• • Clancy Sigal added:   She was always impersonating herself impersonating Mae West parodying a male impersonation of a woman. Depression cinema patrons, chuckling over her hip-swaying caricatures of Diamond Lil or Klondike Annie knocking lecherous men over like ninepins with her fliply insolent sensuality, knew only that she was shrewdly spoofing something that was supposed to be too sacred or sinful to joke about.
• • Clancy Sigal concluded:  Censorship, her mortal enemy, eventually brought her down. Among her self-appointed agents of public purity, the publisher William Randolph Hearst used his vast newspaper chain to pillory her ("Isn't it time Congress did something about Mae West?"); at the same time he was keeping Marion Davies in an adulterous affair. Mae West would have seen this as typically male behaviour.
• • Source: Obituary in The Guardian; published on Monday, 24 November 1980.
• • On Tuesday, 24 November 1931 • •
• • On Tuesday, 24 November 1931 the newspaper Washington Herald reviewed "Constant Sinner." The D.C.-based drama critic wrote about the Greek-American actor George Givot's portrayal of the Harlem pimp Money Johnson as well as "the aroma of Mae West's hybrid dialogue."
• • On Wednesday, 24 November 1976 in Australia • •
• • An article "The Two Hidden Faces of Mae West" appeared in The Australian Women's Weekly on Wednesday, 24 November 1976.
• • On Monday, 24 November 1980 • •
• • British journalist Clancy Sigal fondly recalled the inflatable, durable, and anti-hypocritical genius of the late Mae West in London's Guardian. A lovely tribute.
• • Source: Article: "The saucy looks that said it all" written by Clancy Sigal for The Guardian; published on Monday, 24 November 1980
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • In its heyday, Madame Wu's Garden in Santa Monica was where smartly dressed Hollywood A-listers vied for seats amid white-tablecloth splendor.  ...
• • Princess Grace of Monaco, the former Grace Kelly, raved about the Peking duck. Mae West ate bird's nest soup every Sunday.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Yeah, the [flotation] jacket idea is all right and I can't imagine anything better than to bring you boys of the RAF soft and happy landings. But what I'd like to know about that life-saving jacket is — — has it got shapely shoulders?"
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The Las Vegas Review-Journal mentioned Mae West.
• • "Debbie Reynolds leads family of stars on stage" • •
• • Actress Debbie Reynolds, joined by her daughter Carrie Fisher, son Todd Fisher, and granddaughter Billie Lourd, shows off a pair of Mae West's shoes.     
• • See photo of Todd Fisher with Mae's heels.
• • Source: Item in The Las Vegas Review-Journal; published on Tuesday, 11 November 2014
• • 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 1,223 visitors. 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3055th 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 her shoes

• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
  Mae West