Mary Jane “Mae” West (Born August 17, 1893 – Died November 22, 1980) was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades.
Known for her lighthearted bawdy double entendres, and breezy sexual independence, West made a name for herself in vaudeville and on the stage in New York City before moving to Hollywood to become a comedian, actress, and writer in the motion picture industry, as well as appearing on radio and television.
Obviously meant for entertainment, West also wrote the play, Sex, for which she was jailed.
The arrest and jail time only gave her more good publicity which helped propel her to stardom, eventually being ranked the 15th biggest female star of all time.
Known for her hourglass figure and sultry ways, she played the role of sexy vamp and was one of the first “blonde bombshells.”
Her top heavy figure was behind World War II sailors and airmen naming their life saving floatation vests “Mae Wests.”
With the tremendous increase in parachuting due to World War II the parachute malfunction where lines cross over the top of the parachute making it look like a giant bra was also called a “Mae West.”
Starting her movie career at the cracked age of 39, West helped launch the career of Cary Grant as her leading man. The plays she wrote and movies she starred in dealt with sex, homosexuality, religion and hypocrisy, all of which made censors crazy!
West was not only brash and outspoken on the screen, but was also an advocate of women’s rights and homosexual rights long before the mainstream.
Mae West (born Mary West) was the subject of Salvador Dali’s famous Mae West Lips Sofa in 1938, appeared on the cover for the Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper album, and is depicted in a statue located at the end of the Hollywood Walk of Fame (along with Anna May Wong, Dorothy Dandridge, and Dolores del Rio).
Of course, she also has a star on the Walk of Fame.
When Walt Disney’s groundbreaking Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937, it was accompanied by one of the largest publicity campaigns in film history.
A wide variety of posters, banners and standees were created for distribution to theaters all over the world.
Many of them are highly sought after by collectors today, but none more so than the elusive 24-sheet billboard.
Made from 24 sheets lithographed separately and then knitted together to form three character groupings spanning an incredible 19-and-a-half feet in width and 9’11″ in height, only a few of them were ever produced and only one of them is known to survive.
The creation of Metropolis and its many versions is a fascinating story. Director Fritz Lang’s original cut of Metropolis was a financial flop and appeared in German theaters for only four months before it was pulled and recut.
The film premiered in Germany but was actually released to American theaters before it received a wide German release.
Strangely, American audiences never saw Fritz Lang’s edit of the film, since Paramount (the film’s American distributor) pre-emptively edited their version of the film.
If you get a chance, I highly recommend that you check out the 2010 documentary Voyage to Metropolis, about the many different versions of this film and its ultimate restoration in 2008 to an “original” version after the discovery of an old 16mm version of the film in Buenos Aires.
The Buenos Aires version is believed to be the closest to the original, with over 25 minutes more than any previously known edit, and Metropolis was released theatrically in 2010 with these additional (if badly scratched) scenes added.
I got to see the new cut two summers ago when it screened in Minneapolis and it really is gorgeous.
Just as different versions of this film are constantly resurfacing all around the world, I suspect different promotional materials — be they programs, magazines articles or movie posters — will continue to captivate historians and film fans hoping to learn more about how this classic piece of futurism was originally filmed and promoted.
In the case of this Science and Invention article the film was promoted to an audience interested in how science would be used in movie effects of the future.
He was one of the most admired actors in the history of the movies.
Marilyn Monroe called him “the sexiest man” she had ever seen. And if you watch his early, incredible performances in “On the Waterfront” (1954), “Streetcar Named Desire” (1951), “The Wild One” (1953), “The Men” (1950), and my favorite Brando film “Guys and Dolls” (1955), you can see an almost-perfectly proportioned, sleek-looking, brilliant actor.
But even in these very early days of his movie career, the great Marlon liked his chow.
Actor Richard Erdman, a fellow actor in “The Men” (Brando’s first film), says Marlon’s diet at the time consisted of “junk food, take out, and peanut butter”, which he consumed by the jarful.
By the mid-fifties, Marlon had become renowned for eating boxes of Mallomars and Cinnamon Buns, and washing his sweet treats down with a quart of milk.
Close friend, Carlo Fiore, said Marlon would go on extreme crash diets in the fifties and sixties, but then would lose his willpower.
He would subsequently gorge on huge breakfasts consisting of corn flakes, sausages, eggs, bananas and cream, and a huge stack of pancakes drenched in maple syrup. (One of Brando’s nicknames for himself was “Branflakes”.)
Carlos Fiore would be dispatched by Brando’s directors to fetch him out of local coffee shops.
The late Karl Malden, a close friend, said that during the shooting of “One Eyed Jacks” (1961) Brando would eat “two steaks, potatoes, two apple pies a la mode, and a quart of milk” for dinner.
This diet necessitated the constant altering of his costumes during filming.
Because of this, at his birthday party that year, the crew gave Marlon a belt as his present with the card, “Hope it fits”.
His birthday cake was labelled “Don’t feed the director” (Brando was the director of “One Eyed Jacks”).