Mae West was born in Brooklyn New York on August 17,1893. She began acting as young child. she had decided to pursue a career in show business at a young age. She received her first break when she was part of the Shubert Brother revue Sometime and played opposite Ed Wynn. The first play she starred in was called Sex which she wrote and producted.
The bawdy personality and comic persona of Mae West made her a star in the Hollywood of the 1930's with her appearance in films such as Night After Night, She Done Him Wrong, and My Little Chickadee. Though she seemed to epitomize aggressive vulgarity, audiences loved her. It was only the changing tide of Hollywood movie mores that halted her movie career in 1939.
In the 1940's West returned to the stage starring in a number of shows. She even did a show in Las Vegas
Mae West remained an undeniable American original and found renewed fame in the decade and a half before her death. In 1978 at the age of 86 she starred in her final film Sextette. She died in 1980 after suffering a stroke.
13 Things You Might Not Know About Mae West
Mae West quipped, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” She was born on this date in 1893 . or so she claimed.
1. Mae West's first performance was at a church social when she was five years old. By 14, she was a vaudeville stage actress known as Baby Mae. Her early roles involved cross-dressing and blackface. She was "discovered" at 18 and cast in bigger shows. Her big break was dancing the Shimmy in the revue Sometime.
2. West later starred in her own plays, which she wrote under the pseudonym Jane Mast. In 1927, Sex landed her 10 days in jail and a $500 fine for obscenity. She got off two days early for good behavior.
3. Paramount Pictures offered West a motion picture contact in 1932. She was 38.
4. Though known for her hourglass figure, Mae West is most beloved for her favorite figure of speech, the double entendre. A few examples:
“Women like a man with a past, but they prefer a man with a present."
“I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing.”
“I'm a woman of very few words, but lots of action.”
She later joked, "If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning."
5. Mae West wasn't just reading lines. She wrote nine of the 13 films in which she starred. It all started when she re-wrote her first role in Night After Night and stole the show. West once described herself as "the lady who works at Paramount all day . and Fox all night."
6. Dorothy Parker's famous lines are sometimes attributed to Mae West and vice-versa. The two were born the same year, wrote screenplays, and were known for their sharp wit. But there are a few big differences. While Parker is best known as a literary writer and critic, West is most remembered as an actress. Parker and her friends famously comprised the Algonquin Round Table. West was more of a lone wolf. Parker was a depressive, sometimes suicidal, alcoholic. West didn't drink, smoke, or dwell too much on sadness. Parker was a brunette West was a bottle blonde. Parker grew up in Manhattan West was from Brooklyn. And so on.
The simplest way to tell if a quote came from either Parker or West is to ask yourself, "Sad or sexy?" That said, it's not always easy! Can you figure out who's responsible for these lines? (Scroll down to the bottom for the answers.)
A: "To err is human — but it feels divine."
B: "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."
C: “She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.”
D: "That woman speaks eight languages and can't say 'no' in any of them."
7. That famous line from 1933's She Done Him Wrong is actually, "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?"
8. West said, "Marriage is a great institution. I'm not ready for an institution yet." She was secretly married at age 17, but only lived with her husband for a few weeks. They didn't legally divorce until 31 years later. The actress was rumored to have secretly married another man, but preferred dating younger men. Her long-term partner Paul Novak was 30 years her junior.
9. By 1935, West was the highest-paid star in Hollywood — and the second highest-paid person in the United States. The first: newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst.
10. Fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli — Coco Chanel's rival — designed a number of West's costumes. In 1937, she released a perfume called Shocking that came in a bottle shaped like West's torso. The buxom star is also rumored to have inspired a Coca-Cola bottle.
11. Frequent Schiaparelli collaborator Salvador Dalí also considered Mae West a muse. His painting Il volto di Mae West imagines the bombshell as an apartment. He later designed a surrealist sofa called Mae West Lips. Now you can see the two works as one in the Mae West Room at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain.
12. The inflatable, body-hugging B-4 life preservers used in World War II were nicknamed "Mae Wests." In parachuting, a "Mae West" is what happens when the canopy malfunctions and contorts into the shape of a bra.
Image via Philippines Phil
13. When the Beatles asked permission to use a picture of West on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band album cover, the actress joked, "What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?” When the Beatles finally convinced her, they put her (#3) next to Lenny Bruce (#4), another comic known for pushing the boundaries of freedom of speech.
And time to revisit #5. Did you know your Dorothy Parker from your Mae West?
A: Mae West
B: Dorothy Parker
C: Mae West
D: Dorothy Parker
Book Review: She Always Knew How: A Personal Biography of Mae West
Per Wikipedia: “West reportedly wrote the original screenplay, with Fields contributing one extended scene set in a bar. Universal decided to give the stars equal screenplay credit, perhaps to avoid the appearance of favoritism, but the move incensed West, who declined to team with Fields afterward. The stars spoofed themselves and the Western genre, with West providing a series of her trademark double entendres. ” I like the way she stood up for her work and didn’t want to share the credit with someone who only wrote one scene.
An interesting side note is that one of the main characters in this movie was an actress named Margaret Hamilton, who you know as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. My husband thinks she is the scariest character EVER.
The movie wasn’t that bad and it had some funny quips but to be honest Mae’s schtick got old kinda quick. W. C. wasn’t funny and obviously attempting to use his comedy to make up for something. Watching the movie got me thinking, who was Mae West? What was her deal? So, I checked this book out of the library.
Mae’s story is quite interesting. She didn’t put up with crap and really had the career she wanted and not what others wanted for her. I bet she was a helluva woman especially for her time. She knew what would sell and how her audiences reacted to her and she gave them what they wanted. She made her own money and was very wealthy.
She was also a very tiny woman and that doesn’t really come through on her films. That’s because she wore platform heels. And by platform, I mean huge platforms. Check these out. Click on the shoes for an interesting article on how she wore them.
She wrote homosexuality and cross-dressing into her scripts. She didn’t appear in movies until she was 40! I think she is the bee’s knees. And PBS does too as there is a new documentary, Dirty Blonde, coming out on her that I learned about today!
In “She Always Knew How,” her wonderful new biography of legendary actress Mae West, acclaimed biographer Charlotte Chandler draws on a series of interviews she conducted with the star just months before her death in 1980. From their first meeting, where West held out a diamond-covered hand in greeting and lamented her interviewer’s lack of jewels, to their farewell, where the star was still gamely offering advice on how to attract men, Mae West and Charlotte Chandler developed a warm rapport that glows on every page of this biography. Actress, playwright, screenwriter, and iconic sex symbol Mae West was born in New York in 1893. She created a scandal — and a sensation — on Broadway with her play Sex in 1926. Convicted of obscenity, she was sentenced to ten days in prison. She went to jail a convict and emerged a star. Her next play, Diamond Lil, was a smash, and she would play the role of Diamond Lil in different variations for virtually her entire film career.
In Hollywood, she played opposite George Raft, Cary Grant (in one of his first starring roles), and W. C. Fields, among others. She was the number one box office attraction during the 1930s and saved Paramount Studios from bankruptcy. Her films included some notorious one-liners — which she wrote herself — that have become part of Hollywood lore: from “too much of a good thing can be wonderful” to “When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.” Her risque remarks got her banned from radio for a dozen years, but behind the clever quips was Mae’s deep desire, decades before the word “feminism” was in the news, to see women treated equally with men. She saw through the double standard of the time that permitted men to do things that women would be ruined for doing.
Her cause was sexual equality, and she was shrewd enough to know that it was perhaps the ultimate battleground, the most difficult cause of all. In addition to her extensive interviews of Mae West, Chandler also spoke with actors and directors who worked with and knew the star, the man with whom she lived for the last twenty-seven years of her life, as well as her closest assistant at the end of her life. Their comments and insights enrich this fascinating book. “She Always Knew How” captures the voice and spirit of this unique actress as no other biography ever has.
She Always Knew How: A Personal Biography of Mae West
In "She Always Knew How," her wonderful new biography of legendary actress Mae West, acclaimed biographer Charlotte Chandler draws on a series of interviews she conducted with the star just months before her death in 1980. From their first meeting, where West held out a diamond-covered hand in greeting and lamented her interviewer&aposs lack of jewels, to their farewell, where In "She Always Knew How," her wonderful new biography of legendary actress Mae West, acclaimed biographer Charlotte Chandler draws on a series of interviews she conducted with the star just months before her death in 1980. From their first meeting, where West held out a diamond-covered hand in greeting and lamented her interviewer's lack of jewels, to their farewell, where the star was still gamely offering advice on how to attract men, Mae West and Charlotte Chandler developed a warm rapport that glows on every page of this biography.Actress, playwright, screenwriter, and iconic sex symbol Mae West was born in New York in 1893. She created a scandal -- and a sensation -- on Broadway with her play Sex in 1926. Convicted of obscenity, she was sentenced to ten days in prison. She went to jail a convict and emerged a star. Her next play, Diamond Lil, was a smash, and she would play the role of Diamond Lil in different variations for virtually her entire film career.
In Hollywood she played opposite George Raft, Cary Grant (in one of his first starring roles), and W. C. Fields, among others. She was the number one box-office attraction during the 1930s and saved Paramount Studios from bankruptcy. Her films included some notorious one-liners -- which she wrote herself -- that have become part of Hollywood lore: from "too much of a good thing can be wonderful" to "When I'm good, I'm very good. When I'm bad, I'm better." Her risque remarks got her banned from radio for a dozen years, but behind the clever quips was Mae's deep desire, decades before the word "feminism" was in the news, to see women treated equally with men. She saw through the double standard of the time that permitted men to do things that women would be ruined for doing.
Her cause was sexual equality, and she was shrewd enough to know that it was perhaps the ultimate battleground, the most difficult cause of all. In addition to her extensive interviews of Mae West, Chandler also spoke with actors and directors who worked with and knew the star, the man with whom she lived for the last twenty-seven years of her life, as well as her closest assistant at the end of her life. Their comments and insights enrich this fascinating book. "She Always Knew How" captures the voice and spirit of this unique actress as no other biography ever has. . more
Mae West Height, Weight, Age, Body Statistics
Mae West was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and s*x symbol who was best known for her husky contralto voice, breezy s*xual independence, and double meaning way of talking.
Mae, Queen of the World, The Statue of Libido
Mae was born on August 17, 1893.
She died on November 22, 1980, at the age of 87 in Los Angeles, California, United States due to cardiovascular disease.
Kings County, New York, United States
Mae attended Erasmus Hall High School.
Actress, Singer, Playwright, Screenwriter, Comedian
- Father – John Patrick West (Investigator, Special Policeman)
- Mother – Mathilde Delker (Corset and Fashion Model)
- Siblings – Katie West (Older Sister), Mildred Katherine West (Younger Sister), John Edwin West II (Younger Brother)
- Others – John Edwin West (Paternal Grandfather), Mary Jane Copley (Paternal Grandmother), Jakob Delker (Maternal Grandfather), Christiana Brüning (Maternal Grandmother)
Holiday, Jazz, Blues, Pop, Soundtrack
She had released her music with various record labels including Black & Partners LLC., Dionysus Records, and Master Classics Records.
Boyfriend / Spouse
- Chalky Wright
- John Indrisano
- Duke Ellington
- Abel Baer
- Steve Cochran
- Bugsy Siegel
- David Niven
- Joe Louis
- Anthony Quinn
- Victor McLaglen
- Frank Wallace (1911-1943) –
- Guido Deiro (1914-1920) – According to the biography Mae West: Dirty Blonde, Mae had an abortion done upon the guidance of her mother.
- James Timony
- George Raft (1932)
- Max Baer (1933)
- Gary Cooper (1933) – Rumor
- Jack La Rue (1936)
- Steve Rossi (1954)
- Paul Novak (1956-1980)
- Gorilla Jones
- Chester Rybinski
Race / Ethnicity
She had Irish and English ancestry on her father’s side and German ancestry on her mother’s side.
Biography of Mae West - History
Mary Jane West, 17 August 1892 (1893 is sometimes cited), Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, d. 22 November 1980, Los Angeles, California, USA. On stage from the age of five, West was billed as The Baby Vamp. She appeared in Broadway revues and plays such as Á La Broadway and Vera Violetta (both 1911), Sometime (1918), and The Mimic World (1921). She wrote and appeared in Sex (1927), which was closed by the police and led to West spending 10 days in jail on obscenity charges. Prudently staged out of town was Drag (1927), about homosexuals. Next came The Wicked Age, Diamond Lil and Pleasure Man (all 1928), and The Constant Sinner (1931). West then headed for Hollywood where she co-wrote films such as Night After Night (1932), She Done Him Wrong (1933), based on her Diamond Lil and featuring Cary Grant, of whom West famously inquired, Why dont you come up some time and see me?. Grant was also in Im No Angel (1933), another risqué success, but by the time of Belle Of The Nineties (1934) Hollywood was kow-towing to the Legion of Decency and much of Wests riper dialogue went, taking the comedy with it. The film does, though, offer the unusual experience of West singing Memphis Blues with Duke Ellington and his orchestra.
Problems of too much decency spoiled her remaining 30s films. Just what My Little Chickadee (1940), which co-starred West with W.C. Fields, might have been like in pre-Legion of Decency days is a matter for regretful reflection. After The Heats On (1943), which failed to measure up to its title, West left Hollywood to perform her revue, Catherine Was Great on Broadway (1944), which was staged by Michael Todd. From 1947 she toured the USA for a few years with old faithful Diamond Lil, reviving it on Broadway in 1949 and 1951 and also touring overseas. In the mid-50s she had a cabaret act and in 1959 published her autobiography. In the mid-60s she recorded a rock n roll album with Somebodys Chyldren. She then made a film comeback in 1970 in Myra Breckinridge. Even this was not Wests last fling at films, appearing at age 85 in Sextette (1978), which was based on her own play. Despite her age, and the occasional twinge of embarrassment these late films produced, she did as she had been doing for eight decades and put everyone else in the shade.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.
Later career and final years
West made some rare appearances on television, including The Red Skelton Show in 1960. In 1964, she guest starred on the sitcom Mister Ed. In order to keep her appeal fresh with younger generations, she recorded two rock and roll albums, Way Out West and Wild Christmas in the late 1960s. She also recorded a number of parody songs including "Santa, Come Up to See Me" on the album Wild Christmas.
After a 26-year absence from motion pictures, West appeared as Leticia Van Allen in Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge (1970) with Raquel Welch, Rex Reed, Farrah Fawcett, and Tom Selleck in a small part. The movie was a deliberately campy sex change comedy that was both a box office and critical failure. Vidal later called the film "an awful joke". Despite Myra Breckinridge's mainstream failure, it did find an audience on the cult film circuit where West's films were regularly screened and West herself was dubbed "the queen of camp".
West recorded another album in the 1970s on MGM Records titled Great Balls of Fire, which covered songs by The Doors among others. Her autobiography, Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It, was also updated and republished.
In 1976, she appeared on The Dick Cavett Show and that same year began work on her final film, Sextette (1978). Adapted from a script written by West, daily revisions and disagreements hampered production from the beginning. Due to the numerous changes, West agreed to have her lines fed to her through a speaker concealed in her wig. Despite the daily problems, West was, according to Sextette director Ken Hughes, determined to see the film through. In spite of her determination, Hughes noted that West sometimes appeared disoriented and forgetful and found it difficult to follow his directions. Her now failing eyesight also made navigating around the set difficult. Hughes eventually began shooting her from the waist up to hide the out-of-shot production assistant crawling on the floor, guiding her around the set. Upon its release, Sextette was a critical and commercial failure.
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, her condition had improved, but the prognosis was not good and she was sent home.
She died there on November 22, 1980, at age 87.
A private service was held in the Old North Church replica, in Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, on November 25, 1980. Bishop Andre Penachio, who was also a friend, officiated at the entombment in the family grave at Cypress Hills Abbey, Brooklyn, purchased in 1930 when her mother died. Her father and brother were also entombed there before her, and her younger sister was laid to rest in the last of the five crypts less than 18 months after West's death.
For her contribution to the film industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street in Hollywood.
Biography of Mae West - History
History hasn’t recorded for us how many happy fellows took up Mae West‘s often-quoted (and misquoted) invitation, “Why don’t you come sometime and see me? I’m home every evening. . . . Come up, and I’ll tell your fortune.”
There were many over her long life, but far fewer than West’s onscreen image would lead us to believe. She was too busy for all that, for what she did at home every evening defies the legend: she read, and she wrote.
Born on August 17, 1892—or perhaps 1893—Mae West was the hardest-working woman in show business in her day, and possibly any day. Few knew this, for West kept her labors a secret, staying out of the nightclubs and off the party circuit and, in her quiet Hollywood apartment, studying and reading, writing and rewriting, drafting and recycling, putting everything she had into her daring, and very funny, plays and screenplays.
A vaudevillian who had learned her stagecraft performing for unforgiving audiences in New York, West was a natural master of timing and delivery, a gifted comic, and a beauty of note. All these things, she realized, were good of a kind, but only by winning creative control could she build the legacy she wanted. And so she turned out dozens of scripts, built an archive of clippings and notes, and maintained a gag library that would have done Bob Hope proud, working over quips and corny old jokes until they spoke her language: “When caught between two evils I generally pick the one I’ve never tried before.” “When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad, I’m better.” “Marriage is a great institution. I’m not ready for an institution.”
All that hard work might have found only a local following had not the Depression come along and sent West, a familiar presence on the New York stage, to Hollywood. She made the move in 1932 strictly for the money. If she wasn’t enthusiastic about it, she kept her reservations to herself. Soon, as Simon Louvish writes in his biography Mae West: It Ain’t No Sin, she was the highest-paid performer in the film business, earning $399,166 in 1934 alone. (By contrast, Louvish notes, Marlene Dietrich pulled in $145,000, while Cary Grant made only $39,708.) Much of her income came from script sales, since West wrote most of her own vehicles or at least her own lines, including such hits as My Little Chickadee and I’m No Angel.
That would never do, and an anxious army of censors made its reservations very well known. West had been arrested many a time and her plays closed down for supposed obscenity. On landing in Hollywood, she now faced the strictures of the Hays Office, which distributed a list of some thirty thou-shalt-nots to film studios effectively banning profanity and nudity, along with depictions of interracial romance, white slavery, drug use, and just about any kind of amorous activity beyond holding hands. Such restrictions were like kryptonite to West, who busied herself trying to get around them with a suitable quip: “It ain’t sin if you crack a few laws now and then, just so long as you don’t break any.”
One stratagem became a trademark, the use of suggestive phrases and double entendres that anyone could see had a naughty component, but that could be explained away as innocent remarks: Come up and see me? Only a dirty mind—or a censor—would interpret that as anything other than a friendly gesture, West would object.
The Hays Office was unmoved, and the rules got tighter and tighter until, by 1943, the 50-year-old star was more or less forced out of films. She became an icon, while her writing took a private turn. When the rare offer to act came, she usually turned it down, insisting that she would play no woman over the age of 26. Thus came only a few odd sightings of West in her later years—including the 1970 film Myra Breckenridge and a surreal appearance on the TV show Mister Ed.
Mae West made an image for herself and inhabited it wholly, but her characters were not her. She was a libertarian instead of libertine, a worker instead of a wanton, and a very fine role model for hard-striving rebels everywhere.
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Mae West, 1893-1980: The Wild Woman of Film and Stage
I'm Barbara Klein. And I'm Steve Ember with PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. Today we tell about film actress Mae West. She was also a writer, producer and businesswoman. The sexual nature of her life and art represented her liberal and often disputed ideas. Her funny jokes have become part of the language of American popular culture.
Mae West was born in Brooklyn, New York in eighteen ninety-three. Her father, John West, had several jobs but started his career as a competitive fighter. Mae's mother, Matilda, played an important role in developing her daughter's career as an entertainer.
Mae started to perform in local theater groups as a young child. By nineteen-oh-seven she was part of a national vaudeville tour that performed across the country. Vaudeville was a theatrical show with several entertainers performing songs, dances and jokes. Vaudeville was very popular in the United States during the early nineteen hundreds.
When Mae West was about eighteen years old she started performing on Broadway, the famous theater area of New York City. She appeared in many musical shows such as "Hello, Paris" and "A la Broadway." For the next fifteen years she sang and danced in both Broadway and vaudeville shows.
In the middle nineteen twenties, Mae West started to write, produce and act in her own plays. She also started to create the sexual jokes that would make her famous -- and also get her into trouble. Her first Broadway play was called "Sex."
The play was very popular, but soon closed temporarily. City officials put Mae West in jail for more than a week. The police arrested her because they said the play was not moral. Mae West knew that this incident would make her a national success --- and it did.
Serving time in jail did not stop West from writing more plays or causing new disputes over their sexually suggestive subject matter. In fact, she said that she learned from her jail experience. She said the people she met in jail influenced the characters she later created.
Mae West wrote many kinds of theatrical productions, but some details remained the same. Her humor was often sexual. But her jokes had two meanings. Her statements were humorous and intelligent because they could be understood in two different ways. She was also funny because she greatly overstated her sexy nature and love for men. Mae West always played the role of a young and strong woman. She also made sure that she always had the biggest role. She wanted everyone to know she was the star and she was in charge.
One of her most famous plays was called "Diamond Lil." Mae West made careful choices when writing this play so that it would be popular with a wide audience. She set the play in a famous New York City area called the Bowery. Audiences knew the history of this dangerous area. West also had the story take place in the late nineteenth century. She knew that the clothing from this period looked good on her large and curvy body. She thought that older people would like the time period. Female audiences would like her rich clothing. And younger people would like the play's action and sexy style.
West plays a singer named Lil who works in a saloon, a public drinking place. She walks around in very tight, shiny dresses. She has shiny, golden, wavy hair. She wears diamond jewels and large hats. She has many lovers and adventures.
"Diamond Lil" was a big success. It was performed more than three hundred times on Broadway. Then it was performed all over the country. Lil became the most representative example of Mae West's characters. It was a role she would play many times in her life.
"Diamond Lil" shows the way Mae West appeared in many of her productions, and even in real life. Mae West once said: ''It isn't what I do, but how I do it. It isn't what I say, but how I say it, and how I look when I do it and say it."
After the stock market crash of nineteen twenty-nine, Mae West faced a difficult period. Many theaters could no longer remain open in this time of economic depression. She also had to deal with legal battles over the disputed subjects of her plays. Her latest musical was a failure on Broadway. And, in nineteen thirty her mother died. It was soon time for Mae West to make a change.
In nineteen thirty-two Mae West moved to Hollywood, California to start her film career. Her first film was called "Night After Night." At first, Mae West had refused to be in the film because she was not satisfied with her character. But the producer allowed her to rewrite parts of the story. West helped give the film a special humor and excitement.
The next year she starred in the movie "She Done Him Wrong." This was the film version of her successful play, "Diamond Lil". But making this movie was not easy. The Hays Office had forbidden several of Mae West's plays such as "Diamond Lil" from being made into movies. The Hays Office was in charge of enforcing a severe production code. This code controlled what was considered morally acceptable subject matter for American movies.
To make this movie, the producers changed the name of the play and its characters. And Mae West brought her intelligence to the film. She created sexy statements that the Hays Office had to accept. Instead of direct sexual comments, she perfected her sexually suggestive jokes.
In this film, Cary Grant plays the role of Mae West's main love interest, Captain Cummings. This is one of Cary Grant's earliest roles. He soon became a big Hollywood star. In this scene from the movie, Mae West makes her most famous statement. Her character, Lady Lou, is in love with Captain Cummings. She is trying to get him to "come up and see her."
LADY LOU: "You know, I always did like a man in a uniform. That one fits you grand. Why don't you come up sometime and see me…I'm home every evening."
CAPTAIN CUMMINGS: I'm busy every evening.
LADY LOU: "Busy? So what are you trying to do, insult me?"
CAPTAIN CUMMINGS: "Why no! Not at all. I'm just busy, that's all. You see, we're holding meetings in Jacobsen's Hall every evening. Anytime you have a moment to spare, I'd be glad to have you drop in. You're more than welcome."
LADY LOU: "I heard you. But you ain't kidding me any. You know, I've met your kind before. Why don't you come up sometime, huh?"
LADY LOU: "Don't be afraid, I won't tell. Come up, I'll tell your fortune."
This movie made Mae West a great success. "Why don't you come up and see me sometime" became one of the most famous statements in film history. For a period, she was one of the highest paid female entertainers in America. Some experts say her movies helped save the production company Paramount Pictures from financial ruin. Audiences all over the world either loved or hated this wild woman.
Mae West both starred in and wrote her next film, "I'm No Angel." She played a circus performer. As always, her character drives men crazy with desire. When the film opened, it broke records for attendance and profits. Here is Mae West performing the theme song of this movie.
Mae West continued to make films – and trouble -- throughout the nineteen thirties and early forties. Critics say this was the most exciting part of her career. They say that after this period, she only repeated herself. While she had offers for films, she refused to play the role of an older or weak woman. West continued to act on stage, wrote books and appeared on television.
At the age of eighty-five she starred in a film called "Sextette." Not surprisingly, Mae West played a sexy woman that men could not resist. Some critics dismissed the film. Others praised her spirit for never surrendering to old age on film. Two years later, Mae West died at her home in California. She was eighty-seven.
Mae West remains one of the most famous and liberated actresses in American film and stage history. She used her yellow hair, playful voice, and shapely body to create a whole new kind of Hollywood star. She was a strong woman who kept careful artistic control over her work. Her independence, humor and sexy nature continue to influence performers today.
This program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I'm Steve Ember. And I'm Barbara Klein. Join us again next week for PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English.