Mae West biography – Dead Famous
Mae West was an American actress and singer who was way ahead of her time. Her risqué 1930s comedies were groundbreaking in terms of sexual content and roles for women. Her films included Night After Night and She Done Him Wrong. The latter broke all existing box-office records and is credited with saving Paramount from having to sell out to its rival, MGM.
Early Life and Career
Mae West was the eldest surviving child of a boxer and corset model. She first entertained a crowd at the age of five, performing at a church social.
She starred in amateur shows from the age of seven and, from the age of 14, she performed in vaudeville shows under the name Baby Mae. Her first appearance in a Broadway show was in a 1911 revue A La Broadway put on by her former dancing teacher, Ned Wayburn.
In 1918, after exiting several high-profile revues, Mae finally got her break in the Shubert Brothers revue Sometime, opposite Ed Wynn.
Mae West then started writing her own ‘risque’ plays under the pen name Jane Mast. Her first starring role in Broadway was the lead in the play Sex, which she had written, produced and directed. It did not go down well with city officials and the theatre was raided.
Her 1928 play Diamond Lil about a racy, easygoing lady of the 1890s became a Broadway hit and soon after she signed with Paramount and moved to Hollywood.
She made her film debut in Night After Night, starring George Raft, and became a box-office smash hit, breaking all sorts of attendance records.
She brought her Diamond Lil character, now renamed Lady Lou, to the screen in She Done Him Wrong, in 1933. The film is also notable as one of Cary Grant‘s first major roles, which boosted his career.
Her next release, I’m No Angel, paired her with Grant again. I’m No Angel was also a financial success, a film that proved to be her most successful film of her entire movie career.
By 1936, with Klondike Annie and Go West Young Man, Mae West had become the highest paid woman in the US. After 1937’s Every Day’s a Holiday, she didn’t make another film until 1940, when she co-starred with WC Fields in another film she wrote herself, My Little Chickadee.
Mae West died on 22 November 1980.
What she offers
Mae West courted controversy throughout her career. She challenged prevailing norms and social customs and became Hollywood’s leading lady in the process. Through example, she showed the power of femininity in an industry dominated by men.
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