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Mae West Timeline

maewest.jpgAug. 17, 1893: Born as Mary Jane West in Brooklyn, New York to Matilda Delker-Doelger and John Patrick West ("Battling Jack" West).

1897: Begins to appear on stage.

1898: Her sister Mildred Katharina West is born.

1900: Her brother John Edwin West is born.

1900: Convinces her dance teacher to enter her into an amateur night contest sponsored by the local Elks Club and has a temper tantrum when the lights don't shine on her fast enough. She is billed as "Baby Mae--Song and Dance" and wins the contest.

1906: Quits school.

1907: Due to her performances on stage, she is billed as "The Baby Vamp" while she does burlesque.

1907: Begins doing vaudeville.

Apr. 11, 1911: Marries vaudevillian Frank Wallace. They never share living quarters. She leaves within months. She also, for the longest time, denies she is even married.

1918: In the Southside of Chicago, she goes slumming to a jazz spot where she sees black dancers do the "shimmy shawobble." The next night, she acts in Rudolph Friml's musical Sometime and when it is time for an encore, she introduces the "shimmy" eight months before Gilda Grey makes it famous.

Apr. 27, 1926: Her play Sex debuts at Daly's theater. Not only is she the playwright, but she also plays the part of a waterfront prostitute.

Apr. 28, 1926: The Times says of Sex: "a crude, inept play, cheaply produced and poorly acted." The play runs well over eleven months.

April 19, 1927: Sentenced for ten days in Welfare Island jail for public obscenity for her play Sex. She only serves eight days, getting out two days early for good behavior. While there, she is allowed to wear silk panties instead of the uncomfortable prison issue.

1927: She writes the plays The Drag and The Wicked Age. They both debut in this year. The Drag glorifies gay men.

1928: Her play Diamond Lil becomes a huge Broadway success. It's here she says her most famous line: "Come up and see me sometime."

1928: Her play Pleasure Man debuts.

1930s: She speaks out against police brutality against homosexuals, "A homosexual is a woman's soul in a man's body. You're hitting a woman."

1930s: Raises pet monkeys as her own children. She credits one of them, Boogie, for the line "Beulah, peel me a grape?" Boogie loves grapes and peels them before eating them.

1930s: She doesn't have time for parties like all the other stars because she is busy writing. She also doesn't get involved in the party scene because she doesn't drink, believing that it kills the vitamins in her food.

1931: Her play, The Constant Sinner, debuts.

Oct. 30, 1932: Makes her film debut in Night After Night with George Raft who says of her performance, "She stole everything but the cameras." In all of her films she does her own dialogue.

1933: Douglas Gilbert, a writer for the The New York World-Telegram, writes, "No argument can dislodge her present position. She has given the gate to those proud beauties who once ruled our screen. The great Garbo today is a trifle passé. 'Legs' Dietrich, as she is dubbed in the studios, shakes her slender limbs to apathetic houses ... Against Mae's ample bosom figuratively rest the modish aspirations of our girls. Her well-rounded arms encircle a nation's desire for escape from a synthetic life to one of substance and color."

Jan. 27, 1933: Plays Lady Lou in She Done Him Wrong with Cary Grant. The movie is based on a popular play she wrote years before. When she sees Cary Grant on the set she asks who is he and the staff informs her they just use him for screen tests. Her reply: "If he can talk, I'll take him." The movie launches Cary Grant's career.

Oct. 6, 1933: Plays Ira in I'm No Angel with Cary Grant. This film is the final straw for many and Hays Office creates the Motion Picture Production Code, which regulates what content could be shown or said in pictures. Mae found a way around this by "double-talking", leaving the viewer to decide the meaning of her word or phrases. One of her quotes: "When I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad I'm better."

Late 1933: Because of I'm No Angel, the Chruch gets after her. A couple of priests approach her and says, "A woman told me in the confessional, "Father , I have sinned. I've committed adultry. It was that Mae West movie that drove me to it." [Playboy Jan 1971]

Sept. 21, 1934: Plays Ruby Carter in Belle of the Nineties. Quote from the movie: "Don't let a man put anything over on ya 'cept an umbrella."

Mid 1930s: Princeton scientists design a new magnet in the shape of her torso.

Apr. 25, 1935: Plays Cleo Borden in Goin' to Town.

Feb. 21, 1936: Plays The Frisco Doll/Rose Carlton/Sister Annie Alden in Klondike Annie. One of her quotes: "Between two evils I always pick the one I never tried before."

Nov. 13, 1936: Plays Marvis Arden in Go West Young Man.

Dec. 18, 1937: Plays Peaches O'Day in Every Day's a Holiday. Due to the success of her flims, she is credited as single-handedly rescuing Paramount from bankruptcy.

1939: Her play Clean Beds debuts.

1940s: Enters the dictionary when British airmen use her name for their life jackets.

Feb. 9, 1940: Plays Flower Belle Lee in My Little Chickadee.

1940s: Reverend Kelly, a spiritualist, teaches her how to empty her mind so spirits can enter and talk to her. But it gets to be so much that she can't sleep due to the surprise visits of these spirits. She leaves the spirit world behind forever.

1942: Frank Wallace proves they are married by going to Hollywood and showing the press their marriage certificate.

July 21, 1942: Due to the marriage certificate surfacing, she is left with no choice but to officially divorce Frank Wallace.

Nov. 25, 1943: Plays Fay Lawrence in The Heat's On. She returns to plays, shaking the dust off her old play Diamond Lil and begins touring with it in New York and London.

1944: Her play Catherine Was Great debuts.

1955: Psychic Criswell predicts that Mae will win the 1960 Presidential election and in 1965 she will fly with him and friend Liberace to the moon.

Mid 50s: Starts a night-club act that spoofs the girlie shows: eight muscle men in loincloths with Mae being adored by them all. Most of these men are gay.

1958: She publishes her autobiography Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It. A quote from the book: "More people saw me than saw Napoleon, Lincoln and Cleopatra. I was better known than Einstein and Picasso. ... I changed the fashion of two continents. The style of the Gay Nineties became the rage ... women were trying to walk and talk like me. Women became more sex-conscious — sex was out in the open and fun."

1961: Writes the play Sextette.

1964: Her brother John Edwin West dies.

June 24, 1970: Plays Leticia Van Allen in Myra Breckinridge with Farrah Fawcett and Raquel Welch.

Jan. 1971: Playboy interviews her. In it, she says that men who drink make the worst lovers.

Jan. 1971: "I don't remember how many lovers I've had, there were so many. I was never interested in the score, though --- only the game. Like my line, "It's not the men in my life that counts but the life in my men."

Jan. 1971: I'm never dirty, dear. I'm interestin' without bein' vulgar. I have --- taste. I kid sex. I was born with sophistication and sea appeal, but I'm never vulgar, and I don't like obscenity. I just --- suggest."

Jan. 1971: I've liked the boys for as long as I can remember. When I was 12, I'd have about six of 'em around me and we'd kiss and I'd play with their --- umm, you know. But I didn't know I had this sex personality."

Jan. 1971: "I saw Hair--- and it went to sleep on me. My advice for those gals who think they have to take their clothes off to be a star is, baby, one you're boned, what's left to create the illusion?"

Jan. 1971: "I found Marilyn [Monroe] very attractive . . . they thought they had another Mae West with her. But she couldn't talk and she had to be surrounded by two or three names . . ."

Jan. 1971: "...I believe in censorship. After all, I made a fortune out of it."

Mar. 3, 1978: Plays Marlo Manners/Lady Barrington in Sextette with George Raft, Alice Cooper, Regis Philbin, George Hamilton, Dom DeLuise, Tony Curtis, and Timothy Dalton. Before its release billboards all over Hollywood had a picture of Mae West reclining on a chaise longue with the caption: "Mae West Is Coming."

Nov. 22, 1980: Dies of a stroke in Hollywood, CA and is buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY. Interestingly, she dies just two days before her co-star George Raft does. He starred with her in her first and last movies.

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