|Mae West (1893-1980)|
She was an icon of the Roaring Twenties and then with her wit stretched her career into a lifetime of notoriety.
She was the eldest surviving child of boxer and private investigator Irish-Catholic John Patrick West and Matilda "Tillie" Doelger, who in 1886 emigrated with her family from Bavaria and was for a time a corset model.
Mae West started performing at 14. At 18, the New York Times praised her "snappy way of singing and dancing." She soon became a sex symbol with an unmistakable walk and kept going for 70 more years with her unique talent for thinking up and delivering wry double entendres. Her mother was her biggest fan; but other relatives disapproved.
Having started her career in vaudeville in New York City, she followed the movie business to Hollywood. (Thomas Edison's use of strong-arm teams to collect royalties helped drive movie-makers out of New York.) Diamond Lil (1928), her play about a lady of leisure in the 1890s, became a Broadway hit and then a movie. In Night after Night (1932) she has this exchange:
Hat Check Girl: “Goodness, what beautiful diamonds.” Mae West (playing the part of Maudie Triplett): “Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.”She then starred with Cary Grant in I'm No Angel (1933). She played opposite W. C. Fields in My Little Chickadee (1940). The American Film Institute ranks Mae West as #15 among female stars of all time.
When her long cinematic career ended, she continued to perform in Las Vegas, in the United Kingdom, and on radio and television, and to record rock and roll albums.
Some of Her Famous Quotes
A man in the house is worth two in the street.
A man's kiss is his signature.
An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.
All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.
I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.
I didn't discover curves; I only uncovered them.
I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.
I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.
It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men.
Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.
Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.
Save a boyfriend for a rainy day–and another, in case it doesn't rain.
Say what you want about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.
The best way to hold a man is in your arms.
Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.
Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
There are no good girls gone wrong–just bad girls found out.
When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.