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Mae West

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How is it that Lucy never worked with Mae West at any point? There's a picture of a young Lucy at a screening of "My Little Chickadee," so I'm assuming they met.

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How is it that Lucy never worked with Mae West at any point? There's a picture of a young Lucy at a screening of "My Little Chickadee," so I'm assuming they met.

 

I think Mae was one of those celebrities whose fame preceded her, at least by the time Lucille Ball was on the scene.  Mae was somewhat reclusive and from the looks of her credits on IMDB didn't work a whole lot.  Maybe she was spending more time doing Vegas-type stuff, but as far as television and movies there was not a lot of activity.  So there weren't a lot of opportunities for Lucille Ball and Mae West to cross paths professionally, although Mae did take time to show up on television playing opposite a talking horse.

 

That said, I'm sure Lucille Ball would love to have worked with Mae had the opportunity arisen.  And I'm saying this based on the effusive praise Lucy gave Mae when Lucy appeared on the Cavett show in 1970.  From that interview, it seemed like Lucy had just recently met Mae.  Or maybe it was the first time she had met her in many years.  Lucy called her "fascinating."

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I think Mae was one of those celebrities whose fame preceded her, at least by the time Lucille Ball was on the scene.  Mae was somewhat reclusive and from the looks of her credits on IMDB didn't work a whole lot.  Maybe she was spending more time doing Vegas-type stuff, but as far as television and movies there was not a lot of activity.  So there weren't a lot of opportunities for Lucille Ball and Mae West to cross paths professionally, although Mae did take time to show up on television playing opposite a talking horse.

 

That said, I'm sure Lucille Ball would love to have worked with Mae had the opportunity arisen.  And I'm saying this based on the effusive praise Lucy gave Mae when Lucy appeared on the Cavett show in 1970.  From that interview, it seemed like Lucy had just recently met Mae.  Or maybe it was the first time she had met her in many years.  Lucy called her "fascinating."

It's a pity such an opportunity never arose. Mae might have made an interesting Here's Lucy guest.

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It's a pity such an opportunity never arose. Mae might have made an interesting Here's Lucy guest.

 

For sure!  A cameo, at least, would have been nice.  I'm thinking, for example, of Jack Benny's Biography at the end when Jack Benny and George Burn's little old lady dates show up at the front door, and that one woman says "don't forget the pill."  Imagine if that had been Mae West delivering that line.  :)  That probably wouldn't have happened though.  CBS censors had already been giving Here's Lucy staff a hard time about that line.  If those words came out of Mae West's mouth with typical Mae West delivery, no way!

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Lucy and Mae met at a party in 1970 - the year of Mae's return to films with Myra Breckinridge. Lucy was excited to meet Mae, but Mae treated her coolly presumably because of jealousy. Lucy and Gary wanted Mae to appear on Here's Lucy and asked if she had seen the Burtons' recent appearance. "I thought they would cheapen themselves by appearing on TV, but I enjoyed it," said the woman who guest starred on Mr. Ed. Lucy dropped the subject. Lucy was clearly captivated by Mae since she brought her up in the Dick Cavett interview.

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PBS's American Master ran a 90 minute biography of Mae West that was quite good.   And everything considered they were pretty kind to Mae's 1978 vehicle "Sextette".  Look up "Mae West Sextette Wardrobe Tests" on youtube.  The slate is dated 8/26/76.  The footage is silent but Mae seems to have it much more together than she did in the movie.  My theory is that Mae had a slight stroke (or something else) between the wardrobe footage and the filming of the movie.  Wardrobe test: look at the way she rises from the chair with ease.  In the movie, she shuffles stiffly.   In the tests, she looks GREAT, the hairdo is much more becoming than the wig she wore in the movie.   I don't know if the casting was Mae's idea but she didn't do herself any favors by hiring 30-ish Timothy Dalton as her new husband....and all those ex's with Mae being a full 30 years older than the oldest of them.  She probably should have stuck with George Raft and Caesar Romero.  I suppose the budget was too small to commission its own score but their choice of songs shoe-horned willy-nilly into the plot are curious to say the least, with the oddest being "Happy Birthday, 21".   (Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen) Songs not helped by those rinky-dink orchestrations.   By every account I've read, Mae was game, a good sport and pulled no diva crap.   I don't know what Mae thought of the finished product, but I hope they were able to keep those reviews away from her.

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17 hours ago, Neil said:

PBS's American Master ran a 90 minute biography of Mae West that was quite good.   And everything considered they were pretty kind to Mae's 1978 vehicle "Sextette".  Look up "Mae West Sextette Wardrobe Tests" on youtube.  The slate is dated 8/26/76.  The footage is silent but Mae seems to have it much more together than she did in the movie.  My theory is that Mae had a slight stroke (or something else) between the wardrobe footage and the filming of the movie.  Wardrobe test: look at the way she rises from the chair with ease.  In the movie, she shuffles stiffly.   In the tests, she looks GREAT, the hairdo is much more becoming than the wig she wore in the movie.   I don't know if the casting was Mae's idea but she didn't do herself any favors by hiring 30-ish Timothy Dalton as her new husband....and all those ex's with Mae being a full 30 years older than the oldest of them.  She probably should have stuck with George Raft and Caesar Romero.  I suppose the budget was too small to commission its own score but their choice of songs shoe-horned willy-nilly into the plot are curious to say the least, with the oddest being "Happy Birthday, 21".   (Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen) Songs not helped by those rinky-dink orchestrations.   By every account I've read, Mae was game, a good sport and pulled no diva crap.   I don't know what Mae thought of the finished product, but I hope they were able to keep those reviews away from her.

Cesar Romero's name was brought up, but Mae vetoed him saying he was too old. He was 14 years younger than her. She allegedly thought Tony Curtis was too old as well. He was 32 years younger. 

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Did anyone catch the very brief interview in the Mae doc with one Herbert Kenwith? They credit him as having managed Mae. I yelled, "he's still alive?" Now maybe he passesd on since that was filmed but don't recall hearing anything.

Surprised to see Rona Barret was still alive too. 

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I thought Kenwith had passed on, but then again that wouldn't stop HIM from coming up with more Lucy-bashing stories, even if he has to speak from the great beyond through a medium. 

I can't figure out if Mae was in on the "joke" in Sextette or not, that being how the many much younger men were falling over themselves to get a chance with the alluring 84 year old Marlo.  But then again, why not?  Many leading men were paired with women 30 years younger and no one batted an eye.   Though you don't see it written much anymore,  the fact that Lucy was 5 1/2 years older than Desi was for a long time considered comment-worthy.    Ageism in popular culture is so prevalent especially when it comes to women (though not exclusive to them) that it's pretty much a given.   I'm trying to think of one movie/TV plot that presents an old person as just a person, which they are, that does not make reference to their age.  They're either made fun of for the age-related ailments,  feisty and sexually suggestive for laughs like Mother Dexter, homespun or charming with a late-in-life romance--which usually ends with one of them dying-- but rarely (if ever) a lead in a story that makes no reference to their age.  Now that I'm approaching an age where I would be played by Burt Mustin, this is starting to bother me!  We don't know we're old.

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Herbie died back in 2008. I wonder if this documentary was in production for that long or if he was interviewed for some other project. 

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After snagging the Burtons, Lucy and Gary were after other big TV-shunning stars to do the show.  I heard Mae West was one of them.

But what sort of plot could they possibly come up with that would involve Lucy Carter and Mae West?  

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