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Mae West Arrested Mae West Arrested
by The Ovi Team
2018-04-09 07:57:19
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9th April 1927; Mae West is arrested during her starring role in the play "sex" which she wrote, produced, directed and starred in on Broadway. She was prosecuted on morals charges and sentenced to 10 days in jail for public obscenity.

Mae West was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol. Known for her bawdy double entendres, West made a name for herself in Vaudeville and on the stage in New York before moving to Hollywood to become a comedienne, actress and writer in the motion picture industry. One of the more controversial movie stars of her day West encountered many problems including censorship. When her cinematic career ended, she continued to perform on stage, in Las Vegas, in the United Kingdom, on radio and television, and recorded rock and roll albums.

west01_400West was born Mary Jane West in Bushwick, Brooklyn, King's County, New York, daughter of John Patrick West and Matilda "Tillie" Doelger (also spelled Delker). Her father was a prizefighter known as "Battlin' Jack West" who later worked as a "special policeman" and then as a private investigator who ran his own agency. Her mother was a former corset and fashion model. The family was Protestant, although West's mother was reported as a Jewish immigrant from Bavaria. Her Irish Catholic paternal grandmother, as well as other relatives who were Roman Catholic, disapproved of her career and her choices, as did the aunt who helped deliver her. By some accounts, West's paternal grandfather, John Edwin, may have been an African American who passed for white. Her siblings were Mildred Katherine West (December 8, 1898 – March 12, 1982) and John Edwin West (February 11, 1900 – October 12, 1964). During her childhood, West's family moved to various parts of Woodhaven, Queens, as well as Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. She may have attended Erasmus Hall High School.

At five years old West first entertained a crowd, at a church social, and she started appearing in amateur shows at the age of seven. She often won prizes at local talent contests. She began performing professionally in vaudeville in the Hal Clarendon Stock Company in 1907 at the age of fourteen. West first performed under the stage name Baby Mae, and tried various personas including a male impersonator, Sis Hopkins, and a blackface coon shouter. Her trademark walk was said to have been inspired or influenced by female impersonators Bert Savoy and Julian Eltinge, who were famous during the Pansy Craze. Her first appearance in a legitimate Broadway show was in a 1911 revue A La Broadway put on by her former dancing teacher, Ned Wayburn. The show folded after just eight performances. She then appeared in a show called "Vera Violetta," whose cast featured another newcomer, Al Jolson. In 1912 she also appeared in the opening performance of "A Winsome Widow" as a 'baby vamp' named La Petite Daffy.

Her photograph appeared on an edition of the sheet music for the popular number "Ev'rybody Shimmies Now" in 1918. She was encouraged as a performer by her mother, who, according to West, always thought that whatever her daughter did was fantastic. In 1918, after exiting several high-profile revues, West finally got her break in the Shubert Brothers revue Sometime, opposite Ed Wynn. Her character Mayme danced the shimmy. Eventually, she began writing her own risqué plays using the pen name Jane Mast. Her first starring role on Broadway was in a play she titled Sex, which she also wrote, produced, and directed. Though critics hated the show, ticket sales were good. The notorious production did not go over well with city officials and the theater was raided with West arrested along with the cast.
 
She was prosecuted on morals charges and, on April 19, 1927, was sentenced to ten days for "corrupting the morals of youth". While incarcerated on Welfare Island (now known as Roosevelt Island), she dined with the warden and his wife and told reporters that she wore her silk underpants while serving time. She served eight days with two days off for good behaviour. Media attention about the case enhanced her career. Her next play, The Drag, dealt with homosexuality and was what West called one of her "comedy-dramas of life". After a series of try-outs in Connecticut and New Jersey, West announced she would open the play in New York. However, The Drag never opened on Broadway due to the Society for the Prevention of Vice vows to ban it if West attempted to stage it. West was an early supporter of the women's liberation movement, but stated she was not a feminist. She was also a supporter of gay rights.
 
West continued to write plays, including The Wicked Age, Pleasure Man and The Constant Sinner. Her productions were plagued by controversy and other problems, although the controversy ensured that West stayed in the news and most of the time this resulted in packed performances. Her 1928 play, Diamond Lil, about a racy, easygoing lady of the 1890s, became a Broadway hit. This show enjoyed an enduring popularity and West would successfully revive it many times throughout the course of her career.

In 1932, West 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 West's first scene, a hat check girl exclaims, "Goodness, what lovely 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 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. West's next film was Belle of the Nineties (1934). Originally titled It Ain't No Sin, the title was changed due to the censors' objections. Her next film, Goin' To Town (1935), received mixed reviews.

Her next film, Klondike Annie (1936), was concerned with religion and hypocrisy and was very controversial. Many critics have called this film her screen masterpiece. That same year, West played opposite Randolph Scott in Go West, Young Man. In this film, she adapted Lawrence Riley's Broadway hit Personal Appearance into a screenplay. Directed by Henry Hathaway, Go West, Young Man is considered one of West's weaker films of the era. After this film, West starred in Every Day's a Holiday (1937) for Paramount before their association came to an end.

In 1939, Universal Pictures approached West to star in a film opposite W. C. Fields. The studio was eager to duplicate the success of Destry Rides Again starring Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart with a vehicle starring West and Fields. Having left Paramount eighteen months earlier and looking for a comeback film, West accepted the role of Flower Belle Lee in the film My Little Chickadee (1940). Despite mutual dislike between West and Fields (at least in part because West was a teetotaler who disapproved of Fields' heavy drinking) and fights over the screenplay, My Little Chickadee was a box office success, outgrossing Fields' previous films You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939) and The Bank Dick (1940).
 
West's next film was The Heat's On (1943) for Columbia Pictures. She initially didn't want to do the film but after producer and director Gregory Ratoff pleaded with her and claimed he would go bankrupt if she didn't, West relented. The film opened to bad reviews and failed at the box office. West would not return to films until 1970.

In August 1980, West tripped while getting out of bed. After the fall, West was unable to speak and was taken to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles where tests revealed that she had suffered a stroke. She remained in the hospital where, seven days later, she had a diabetic reaction to the formula in her feeding tube. On September 18, she suffered a second stroke which left her right side paralyzed and developed pneumonia. By November, West's condition had improved, but the prognosis was not good and she was sent home. She died there on November 22, 1980, at age 87.


   
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Mae Westside2010-04-16 07:14:00
Come up and see Mae . . . http://MaeWest.blogspot.com


Joe Gagnon2013-03-13 08:59:14
Well written.


Leah Sellers2013-04-10 06:07:57
Wow ! And all this time I thought that she had been arrested because she finally found that 'ole 'Pickle in the Pocket' that was always so happy to see her.


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