Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Today is Mae West's Birthday: a true entertainment legend. The gal who gave us lines like "Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me" was born to two wildly different parents and even went to jail for ten days (with two days off for good behavior) after being raided by the New York City Police Department. Mae's motion picture career was one amazing ride and her very last picture 'Sextette" was actually photographed by my cousin James Crabe for which he served as Director of Cinematography", My cousin went from that picture to performing the same role for a "little" picture" called "Rocky". The director had my cousin film all of Mae's scenes from the waist up because poor Mae who was then eighty years old had a film assistant literally crawling around on the floor on her feet so that Poor Mae (who was certainly not doing very well physically at that time ) could remember where she was supposed to move. In 1932, dear Mae was offered a motion picture contract by Paramount Pictures. She was 38, unusually advanced for a first movie, especially for a sex symbol (though she kept her age ambiguous for several more years). West made her film debut in Night After Night starring George Raft. At first, she did not like her small role in Night After Night, but was appeased when she was allowed to rewrite her scenes. In Mae's first scene, a hat check girl exclaims, "Goodness, what beautiful diamonds." West replies, "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie."] Reflecting on the overall result of her rewritten scenes, Raft is said to have remarked, "She stole everything but the cameras."She brought her world famous Diamond Lil character, now renamed Lady Lou, to the screen in She Done Him Wrong (1933). The film is also notable as one of Cary Grant's first major roles, which boosted his career. West claimed she spotted Grant at the studio and insisted that he be cast as the male lead. The film was a box office hit and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The success of the film most likely saved Paramount from bankruptcy.Her next release, I'm No Angel (1933), paired her with Grant again. I'm No Angel was also a financial success. By 1933, West was the eighth-largest U.S. box office draw in the United States and, by 1935, the second-highest paid person in the United States (after William Randolph Hearst). On July 1, 1934, the censorship of the Production Code began to be seriously and meticulously enforced, and her screenplays were heavily edited. And now about the theatre. We have made a tentative deal with the New Hope Theatre in bringing our original musicals to the stage. We must raise $2600 in capital in repertory membership in exchange for which, we we earn 34 percent of the gross and the theatre will earn 30%. The biggest twelve roles in each big cast show will share a 22% percent of the gross without expenses being deducted from the total gross of the evening. The cast will also share a percentage of merchandising and valet parking. All of which could really be wonderful. With God's help, this will become a reality. The repertory company (and each member will pay $50 a quarter for a membership will be used first to cast all roles. Only then we will go the outside world to cast the show. The potential is certainly there. I will keep you posted on future news.

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