Saturday, February 6, 2010
Things I Love: Mae West
I love Mae West. She says all the things I could never say and does it with such panache I can't help but swell with admiration.
Mae West started out on in vaudeville and eventually moved to Broadway and where she became notorious for her raunchy style. She even wrote and starred in a play simply titled "SEX!" which also landed her in jail for obscenity in 1920s New York. However, it was the controversy that she created as a part of her sexy persona that peaked interest in her from the Hollywood studios. She eventually signed a contract to make films for Paramount Pictures. It was the 1930s, the Depression, and Paramount was facing bankruptcy. However, Mae's box office draw almost single-handily (partial credit also goes to the Marx Brothers) saved the studio from complete collapse.
Aside from being an actress, Mae West wrote most of her own stuff and was proud of it. Director George Raft commented that "She stole everything but the cameras." In honor of her witty dialogue I have copied and pasted some of her more memorable one-liners here. Oh, may I only be this witty one day!
A dame that knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up.
A hard man is good to find.
A man in the house is worth two in the street.
Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.
Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.
Cultivate your curves - they may be dangerous but they won't be avoided.
Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can't figure out what from.
He's the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of.
I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.
I believe that it's better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked.
I didn't discover curves; I only uncovered them.
I enjoyed the courtroom as just another stage but not so amusing as Broadway.
I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
I only have 'yes' men around me. Who needs 'no' men?
I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.
I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.
I'm a woman of very few words, but lots of action.
I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing.
I've been in more laps than a napkin.
It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men.
Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.
To err is human, but it feels divine.
Virtue has its own reward, but no sale at the box office.
When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.
When women go wrong, men go right after them.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Eventually the Hollywood Production Code censors ran Mae out of town with their puritan ideals. However, she made a comeback at the age of 85 in a film called Sextette (1978). In it she sways and sasses a host of men including Ringo Starr, George Hamilton, Tony Curtis, Timothy Dalton, and Alice Cooper(!). May we all be as lucky as Mae one day!