Mae West

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Mae West

Mae West Signed & Inscribed Book - 1949

The scarce 1949 edition of Diamond Lil, floridly inscribed “To Harry, Sin-cerely, Mae West” and signed by Ms. West on blank page preceding title page. Highly collectible, very good, hardcover. Sheridan House publishers. Clean throughout, sound, square hardcover in grey binding, title still quite bright. Illustrated dustjacket in very good condition featuring the busty Mae West with low neckline dressed and groomed splendidly.

MAE WEST (1893-1980) was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, and sex symbol. Famous for her bawdy double entendres, West made a name for herself in Vaudeville and on the stage in New York before moving to Hollywood to become a comedian, actress and writer in the motion picture industry. One of the most controversial stars of her day, West encountered many problems including censorship.

When her cinematic career ended, she continued to perform on stage, in Las Vegas, in the United Kingdom, on radio and television, and recorded Rock and Roll albums.

Not only was Diamond Lil a big hit on Broadway, but more significantly it launched Mae West’s career toward Hollywood stardom. She debuted on film in 1932 with what was supposed to be a small part in Night After Night, starring George Raft. However, she insisted on rewriting all her lines, and the result was pure box office gold-for West and for the film. Building on this success she was able to translate her Broadway play Diamond Lil to the big screen as She Done Him Wrong in 1933. Audiences went wild, and the film was a huge success, garnering an Academy Award nomination and catapulting male lead Cary Grant, to stardom. What’s more the picture saved its studio, Paramount Pictures, from bankruptcy.

Mae West lives on in cultural history as well. During World War II, Allied soldiers called their yellow inflatable, vest-like life preserver jackets “Mae Wests” partly from Cockney rhyming slang for “life vest” and partly because of the resemblance to her curvaceous torso. A “Mae West” is also a type of round parachute malfunction which contorts the shape of the canopy into the appearance of an extraordinarily large brassiere, presumably one suitable for a woman of Mae West’s generous proportions.


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