Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It… (click here to read the entire story)
“One and one is two…and two and two is four…and five will get you ten- if you know how to work it.” – Mae West
And work it she did! She needs no further introduction other than… “Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Mae West”. So- in case you’ve never seen a Mae West movie, several of her classics are now available on DVD. A few of my favorites are “I’m No Angel”, “Klondike Annie” and of course “My Little Chickadee” with W.C. Fields. In all of these films you can see the original “pimp walk”, which was created out of necessity only because of the platform shoes she wore to enhance her height. Those long, custom gowns also helped hide the shoes and nobody knew that her seductive walk was basically just so she could keep her balance while shakin’ her rump.
After Mae got tired of the Hollywood censors cutting out all the best lines in her movies (“Is that a gun in your pocket- or are you just happy to see me?”) then quite often making her change them to fit the morals of the time, she took her act out on the road where she could say what she wanted at keep her integrity as a writer. One of those stops- Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada– the original sin city. As part of her stage act, Mae had a dozen or so muscle men (wearing little more than pomade and roman sandals) parading around her as she showcased her talent for song and comedic timing. Night after night (actually, thats also the title of the first motion picture Mae was in) she filled the seats in the theater of the Sahara Hotel and Casino.
Mae was even asked to perform the opening number at the Oscars in 1958. She and Rock Hudson sang “Baby It’s Cold Outside” to one very lucky audience. Mae, looking ever so lovely, wore a black sequened gown trimmed with white fur and delivered her lyrics in her slow, sultry style and gave Hollywood and the world a performance that showed she still had “it”. Mae in her 60’s- still shakin’ it, eat your hearts out….
She wrote her memoirs and let us in on the world according to Mae. It’s a great read if you can get your hands on one. You’ll love it and find it difficult to put down. Her story is amazing. I was able to find a hardcover, first pressing from ’59- with the original dust jacket!!
After a long and luxurious life, Mae left us on November 22, 1980. This cartoon by the very talented Steve Greenberg appeared in the Daily News of Los Angeles on November 25. The cartoon farewell is in tribute to a scene that would become very memorable in the film “Night After Night“, it went something like this-
(noticing Mae’s jewelry)
Hat check girl: “Goodness! What beautiful diamonds!”
Mae: “Goodness had nothin’ to do with it, dearie!”
(Mae exits, strutting out of the scene- into motion picture history and into the hearts of millions of fans around the world!)
A star, she remains…..
Happy Birthday Mae- from one Leo to another.