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ElvisPresleyPicture This Elvis Presley biography Mae West page is dedicated to providing quality Elvis Presley biography information, pictures and articles for your entertainment. The contents of this Elvis Presley site is written by a fan for his fans about Mae West.

Mae West

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Mae West (August 17, 1893 — November 22, 1980) was an American actress and playwright.

She was born Mary Jane West in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Irish-American John Patrick West (1865-1935) and German-Jewish immigrant Matilda ("Tillie") Delker-Doelger (1870-1930).

Her sister and brother were Mildred "Beverly" West (1898-1982) and John Edwin West (1900-1964).

Elvis Presley biography, Mae West The family was Protestant despite the Irish and Bavarian-Jewish roots, although she had some distant relations who were Roman Catholics, including the woman who helped deliver her, and whose disapproval of West's career Mae was made well aware.

Her father was a livery stable owner and prizefighter known as "Battlin' Jack West", who later worked in real estate on Long Island, New York, and her mother was a former corset and fashion model.

Mae began performing in vaudeville at the age of five. By the time she was twelve she was doing burlesque under the name "The Baby Vamp."

Though she had not yet grown into her generous curves, the slinky, dark-haired Mae was already raising eyebrows with a lascivious "shimmy" dance.

Eventually, she began writing her own risquй plays using the pen name "Jane Mast". Her first starring role on Broadway was in a play she titled Sex, which was written, produced and directed by West.

Though critics hated the show, ticket sales were good. The notorious production did not go over well with the Irish-American Catholic city officials, however. The theater was raided and West was arrested along with everyone else in the cast.

She was prosecuted on morals charges and, on April 19, 1927, was sentenced to ten days in jail for public obscenity. While incarcerated on Welfare Island, she was allowed to wear her silk panties instead of the scratchy prison issue. She served eight days, with two days off for good behavior.

West regarded talking about sex as a basic human rights issue. She was also an early advocate of gay rights, pleading against police brutality against homosexuals by saying: "A homosexual is a woman's soul in a man's body. You're hitting a woman."

After being released from jail, she set to work on her next creative effort. Her second play was about homosexuality and was titled The Drag. It was a success, but audiences had to go to New Jersey to see it because it was banned from Broadway.

She continued to write plays, including The Wicked Age, Pleasure Man, and The Constant Sinner.

Her productions were plagued by controversy and other problems, however. If they did not get shut down for indecency, they closed because of slow ticket sales.

For her next adventure into theatre she had a Broadway hit, Diamond Lil (1928), about a racy, easygoing lady of the 1890s.

The show struck box-office gold and heralded the brazen, wisecracking blonde to new heights of fame. It enjoyed an enduring popularity and West would successfully revive it many times through the course of her career.

Motion Pictures

In 1932, she was offered a motion picture contract by Paramount. She signed and went to Hollywood to appear in Night After Night starring George Raft.

Upon her arrival, she moved into an apartment in the Ravenswood at 570 North Rossmore Avenue, not far from the studio on Melrose Avenue. She maintained a residence there for the rest of her life.

At first, she did not like her small role in Night After Night, but was appeased when she was allowed to rewrite her lines. In her first scene, a hat check girl exclaimed, "Goodness, what lovely diamonds."

West became an instant sensation when she replied, "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie."

She brought Diamond Lil, now Lady Lou, to the screen in She Done Him Wrong (1933), personally selecting Cary Grant for the male lead, a role that made him a star.

The movie was a huge success and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

In mid-1934, the Breen Office emerged to seriously and meticulously enforce censorship of movies and her scripts began to be heavily edited.

Her answer was to increase the double entendre, saying phrases with risquй connotations that could also be taken to mean something else.

West's next movie, originally entitled It Ain't No Sin, was changed to Belle Of The Nineties (1934) due to the censors objection to the former title and to several other working titles, including That St. Louis Woman, Belle of St. Louis and Belle of New Orleans.

The same could be said for her following vehicle, Goin' To Town (1935), which was originally titled How Am I Doin'?

West starred in eight movies for Paramount before their association came to an end. Two years later, she starred opposite W.C. Fields in My Little Chickadee (1940) at Universal. She and Fields did not get along, to put it mildly.

Disputed marriage & life jacket

She was apparently married on April 11, 1911, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Frank Wallace, a fellow vaudevillian who, in 1937, showed up in Hollywood with a marriage certificate seeking a share of "their" community property.

She denied ever marrying him, and records showed she had never lived with him or even consummated the relationship, but she still found it necessary to obtain a legal divorce on July 21, 1942.

During World War II, allied soldiers called their inflatable life jackets "Mae Wests" because of its resemblance to her curvaceous torso.

According to actor Tony Curtis, her famous walk originated while beginning her career as a stage actress.

Special six-inch platforms were attached to her shoes to increase the height of her stage presence. Her walk literally was "one foot at a time." (per IMDB)

Middle years

West appeared in her last movie during the studio age with The Heat's On (1943) for Columbia. She remained active during the ensuing years, however.

Among her stage performances was the title role in Catherine Was Great (1944) on Broadway, in which she dramatized the story of Catherine the Great of Russia, surrounding herself with an "imperial guard" of muscular young actors, all over 6 feet tall.

The play was produced by the late Mike Todd and went on a long national tour in 1945.

She also starred in her own Las Vegas, Nevada stage show surrounded by bodybuilders and singing to delighted crowds, which included a large number of gay men.

Many celebrities attended West's show, including Judy Garland, Ethel Merman, Louis Armstrong, Liberace, and Jayne Mansfield (who met and married one of West's muscle men, Mickey Hargitay, getting him fired).

On radio, West appeared on ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's show and did a sexy sketch with Bergen's dummy, Charlie McCarthy, based on Adam and Eve, that shocked the listening audience. She was banned from the airwaves for several years.

When Billy Wilder offered her the role of "Norma Desmond" in Sunset Boulevard, she refused and pronounced herself offended at being asked to play a "has-been", similar to the responses he received from Mary Pickford and Pola Negri, so ultimately the more amenable and realistic Gloria Swanson got the role and became immortal on celluloid.

Her autobiography, titled Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It, was published by Prentice-Hall in 1959.

In order to keep her appeal fresh with younger generations, she recorded a Rock and Roll album titled "Great Balls of Fire," which covered songs by Elvis Presley, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, among others.

She also recorded a number of parody songs, including "Santa, Come Up and See Me Sometime."

Later career

West also appeared on television talk shows and, in the early 1960s, she guest starred as herself on the popular television series Mister Ed.

After an absence of almost thirty years from the silver screen, she appeared in Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge (1970) with John Huston, Raquel Welch, Rex Reed, Farrah Fawcett, and Tom Selleck, in a small part. It failed, but soon became a camp classic (notably among gay men, due to its sex change theme).

At the age of eighty-five, West returned in her last movie, Sextette (1978) with Timothy Dalton, Dom DeLuise, Tony Curtis, Ringo Starr and George Hamilton, with Rona Barrett, and Walter Pidgeon. She was with George Raft, as well, in this last film, just as she had been with him in her first film, Night After Night (1932), which provided an odd symmetry to both their long careers.

Sextette was amusingly terrible and failed at the box-office, despite the fact that before its release large photographs of her reclining on a chaise longue went up on billboards all over Hollywood proclaiming, "Mae West Is Coming."

In November 1980, she suffered a stroke and was rushed to the hospital, but the prognosis was not good and she was sent home. She died at home in the Ravenswood apartment building on North Rossmore Avenue in Hollywood at the age of 87.

She is entombed in the Cypress Hills Cemetery at 833 Jamaica Avenue in her native Brooklyn, New York.

Mae West has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street in Hollywood.


 Night After Night (1932) (Paramount) ... Maudie Triplett

 She Done Him Wrong (1933) (Paramount) ... Lady Lou

 I'm No Angel (1933) (Paramount) ... Tira

 Belle Of The Nineties (1934) (Paramount) ... Ruby Carter

 Goin' To Town (1935) (Paramount) ... Cleo Bordon

 Klondike Annie (1936) (Paramount) ... The Frisco Doll (Rose Carlton)

 Go West, Young Man (1936) (Paramount) ... Mavis Arden

 Every Day's A Holiday (1938) (Paramount) ... Peaches O'Day

 My Little Chickadee (1940) (Universal) ... Flower Belle Lee

 The Heat's On (1943) (Columbia) ... Fay Lawrence

 Myra Breckinridge (1970) (20th Century Fox) ... Leticia Van Allen

 Sextette (1978) (Crown International Pictures) ... Marlo Manners

 When I'm good I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better.

 A hard man... is good to find

 It's not the men in my life that counts -- it's the life in my men.

 He who hesitates is last.

 I go for two kinds of men. The kind with muscles, and the kind without.

 So many men... so little time

 Too much of a good thing... can be wonderful

 Why don't you come on up and see me sometime.. when I've got nothin' on but the radio.

 I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.

 A man in love is like a clipped coupon -- it's time to cash in.

 A man in the house... is worth two in the street

 Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for an institution.

 It's better to be looked over, than overlooked

 Give a man a free hand... and he'll run it all over you

 Good sex is like good Bridge... If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand

 To err is human -- but it feels divine

 His mother should have thrown him away...and kept the stork

 I don't like myself, I'm crazy about myself.

 "Goodness, what beautiful diamonds !" Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie

 I like two kinds of men: domestic and imported

 When a girl goes wrong, men go right... after her

 I'm the lady who works at Paramount all day... and Fox all night.

 Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

 I used to be Snow White... but I drifted

 Save a boyfriend for a rainy day, and another, in case it doesn't rain

 I've been rich and I've been poor... Believe me, rich is better

 It's hard to be funny...when you have to be "clean"

 I like my clothes to be tight enough to show I'm a woman... but loose enough to show I'm a lady.

 She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success... wrong by wrong

 You may admire a girl's curves on the first introduction... but the second meeting shows up new angles

 You can say what you like about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.

 Those who are easily shocked... should be shocked more often

 When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before.

 You ought to get out of those wet clothes... and into a dry martini

 Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.

o Response to an exclamation, "Goodness! What a lovely diamond!" in Night After Night (1932). She later used Goodness had nothing to do with it as the title of her autobiography (1953).

 Why don't you come up sometime and see me? ... Come on up, I'll tell your fortune.

o She Done Him Wrong (1933)

 Peel me a grape.

o I'm No Angel (1933)

 When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.

o I'm No Angel (1933)

 Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.

o Klondike Annie (1936) Sometimes quoted as: "When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."  A man in the house is worth two in the street.

o Belle of the Nineties

 It's not the men in your life that matters, it's the life in your men

o I'm No Angel

 When women go wrong, men go right after them.

o She Done Him Wrong


 An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away.

 I consider sex a misdemeanor; the more I miss, de meaner I get.

 I do all my best work in bed.

 I feel like a million tonight. But one at a time.

 I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.

 I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.

 If Kinsey is right, I have only done what comes naturally, what the average American does secretly, drenching himself in guilt fixations and phobias because of his sense of sinning. I have never felt myself a sinner or committed what I would call a sin.

 I've been in more laps than a napkin.

 Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for an institution.

 Sex is an emotion in motion.

 Sex with love is the greatest thing in life. But sex without love— that's not so bad either.

 You may think you're in love when the passions of sex get hold of you, but if you didn't love the man before, you won't love him after. Live him, maybe— but not love him.

 A hard man is good to find.

 Too much of a good thing can be simply wonderful.

 When you get the personality, you don't need the nudity.

 You can say what you like about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.

 I never meant "Come up and see me some time" to be sexy.

 Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.

Reputation is everything.

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