Just say the name and you want to smile. Her one- liners were devastating – and she wrote them herself.
Hollywood had never seen anything like MAE WEST but Paramount, in those pre-Code days, took a chance and she was a sensation. No woman on the screen had ever talked and acted the way Mae did.
Born Mary Jane West in Brooklyn in 1893, she always wanted to be a star, and became one, first in Vaudeville and then Broadway.
In 1926 she wrote a play (under the name Jane Mast) simply called SEX . The police closed it for a few days and Mae spent 10 days in jail.
As she later said, “I believe in censorship. I made a fortune from it.”
In 1928, DIAMOND LIL ( which became SHE DONE HIM WRONG) opened and she became the bad girl with a heart of gold.
When Hollywood beckoned, Mae didn’t have top billing in NIGHT AFTER NIGHT, but George Raft said, “Mae stole everything but the cameras.”
And for that film Mae wrote the famous line :
A hat check girl exclaims, “Goodness,what beautiful diamonds.”
Mae’s reply became part of Hollywood legend , “Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.!”
Mae was only five feet tall, though you’d never have guessed it.
In 1930, she moved into the penthouse apartment of the newly built art deco Ravenswood Building in Hollywood and lived there till her death in 1980.
As the late Robert Osborne said,
“She was her own invention.”
And she only made 11 films.
She could be imitated , but there was only one Mae West!
Here are some of her best lines.
“I wonder what kind of a woman you really are..”
“Sorry, but I can’t give out samples…”
“She’s the kind of a girl who climbed the ladder of success, wrong by wrong.”
“I’ve heard so much about you….”
“Yeh, but you can’t prove it.”
“Your golden hair, fascinating eyes, alluring smile, your lovely arms and your form divine..”
“Is this a proposal, or are you taking inventory?”,