MAE WEST BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Mae West was born on August 17th, 1893 in Woodhaven, New York with the birth name Mary Jane West. Her parents were, John Patrick West and Matilda Doelger. Her father was also known as, "Battling Jack" , a prize fighter who later on became a "special policeman". Her mother was a model. She had two siblings, Mildred Katherine West who grew up to work as a fashion model and John Edwin West who was an a occasional prize fighter and livery-stable owner.
At the age of five she was already entertaining the public at local church functions followed by working as a child star in vaudeville at the age of fourteen. In 1911, she made her Broadway debut in the play, "A La Broadway". She was so beautiful that by 1918, Mae was appearing on the cover of sheet music, one in particular titled, "Ev'rybody Shimmies Now".
Her big brerak came on a Shubert Brothers play caleld, "Sometime" (1918) and this lead to her writing her own risque plays. One was called, "Sex" which she wrote, directed and produced, however, even though ticket sales were good, the overall outcome was the enite cast being arrested, including Mae.
This incident actually caused her to be incarcerated in 1927 for ten days on Welfare Island, she only served eight due to good behavior and this whole situation actually played a large role in increasing her popularity as an actress.
When she was released, Mae continued to work on plays of a risque nature that dealt with difficult issues such as the play titled, "Drag" that dealt with homosexuality. In 1932, Mae appeared in her first movie role, "Night After Night" followed by her next film role on, "She Done Him Wrong" (1933) which starred Cary Grant. This film was a box office hit and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
Mae West continued her career by writing and starring in seven more films which included, "Klondike Annie" (1936), "Every Days A Holiday" (1937) and "My Little Chichadee" (1940) which was another box office success. She was the eight-largest US box office draw in the United States and by 1935, Mae West was also the 2nd highest paid person in the United States.
After she was convinced to appear in the film, "The Heat's On" (1943) she did not return to the big screen until the 1970's. She did however, continue to work on the stage in such productions as, "Catherine Was Great" (1944). She also appeared at the Academy Awards and performed the song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in 1958.
After being gone from the big screen for almost twenty six years, upon her return on 1970 she took a role in the film, "Myra Mreckinridge", however the film was a box office failure.
Her final film role was in, "Sextette" (1978) which was derived from a play. Just two years after this films release, Mae West passed away on November 22nd, 1980 in Hollywood, California from complications from a stroke at the age of eighty seven. Mae was entombed alongside her mother, father and brother at Cypress Hills Abbey, Brooklyn, New York.
Alongside a successful film career, Mae West also did some radio sketeches early on in her career on, "The Chase and Sanborn Hour" (1937) and "The Garden of Eden". In 1950, she returned to radio one more time to appear on an episode of, "The Chesterfield Supper Club".
Mae West also recorded a variety of albums. She did two rock and roll albums called, "Way Out West" and "Wild Christmas" both in the late 1960's and also did some Christmas music such as, "Santa, Come Up to See Me" on an album titled, "Wild Christmas". In the late 70's, she worked with MGM Records and recorded another album titled, "Great Balls Of Fire".
Mae West married once to Frank Wallace who also worked in vaudeville on April 11th, 1911 through July 23rd, 1942 when the couple divorced. Rumor has it there might have been a second secret marriage, however nothing has ever been proven. Mae West tried to keep her personal life private and out of the media, but that actually brought more attention to her in the end, especially due to her stance on many issues. She continued to have various relationships with different men throughout her lifetime, but never actually entered into another marriage.
West was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the Motion Picture Industry. She was also honored by being named, #15 Actress on The American Film Institutes 50 Greatest Screen Legends. Even though, Mae West only appeared in twelve films over a period of forty six years, she made a huge impact on the industry and took a stand against many issues that during her era were highly frowned upon.
1970 Myra Breckinridge
1943 The Heat's On
1940 My Little Chickadee
1937 Every Day's a Holiday
1936 Go West Young Man
1936 Fashions in Love
1936 Klondike Annie
1935 Goin' to Town
1934 Belle of the Nineties
1933 I'm No Angel
1933 She Done Him Wrong
1932 Night After Night