I’m a picker. I love to scavenge through flea markets, estate sales, and yes, even other people’s trash, looking for cast-off treasures. I come by it quite naturally via my Irish nana who never passed by a thrift store without first stopping in to peruse the bins, shelves, and dusty corners looking for items that deserved a second chance. I recently did my nana proud when I found this gem tucked away in a pile of forgotten photographs for sale at the annual Luckett’s Spring Market:
Added bonus: this photo is from the estate of Joseph E. Noel, who I believe worked as a Hollywood photographer in the 40s and 50s–though this is still being researched.
Can you believe I picked up this treasure for a mere $5? It isn’t often that I’m lucky enough to combine my love of picking with one of my favorite gals of all time.
Mae West, born Mary Jane “Mae” West in August 1893, was an American actress who could turn a phrase into something memorable with just the right move of her hips. She retains a coveted place on my all-time dream team cocktail party guest list. Throughout her career she wore the moniker of sex symbol as a badge of honor, always with a bit of class and a touch of naughty double entendre.
What many people don’t know about Mae West is that she was also a brilliant writer who was WAY ahead of her time. Her first starring role on Broadway was in a 1926 play she entitled Sex (yep, I’m not making this up!), which she wrote, produced, and directed. It only played for one week before the entire cast was arrested on morals charges. Mae was sentenced to ten days in jail for her “corruption of youth.” It’s reported that she dined each night with the warden and his wife and she told reporters she wore silk panties while paying her ten-day day debt to society. She went on to write several additional plays–including the acclaimed “Diamond Lil”–as well as an autobiography entitled “Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It.”
One of my favorite factoids about Mae West is that she was short, measuring in at just five feet tall. She was such a giant presence most would never guess she was so small in stature. She also achieved most of her fame in her thirties and beyond. We have a special throne of honor for Mae up here in the middle-aged cheap seats.
Her infamous quips were Mae’s calling card. Here are a just a few of my favorites:
A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has fire, women will like him.
The precursor to I Was In Love With a Short Man Once.
Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
Who is your favorite female role model? Have a famous quote to share?
Laurie Oien saysJune 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm
What a great picture find! I’ve always loved Mae’s spunk…especially for her generation. Love her quotes and she’d be awesome to have a cocktail party. I think Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett are great role models, as well. Love their humor and gumption!
Kim Dalferes saysJune 6, 2015 at 9:54 am
Oh, I also really love Carol Burnett. The best part of her show was when everyone would screw up and get out of character and they would lose complete control of the sketch. Have you seen “The Elephant Story” ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qqE_WmagjY
Lois Alter Mark saysMay 30, 2015 at 12:42 pm
Mae West definitely packed a powerful punch! Love her quotes and had no idea she was so tiny with that gigantic personality! I think I have to agree with Suzanne above – Notorious RBG is pretty awesome.
Kim Dalferes saysJune 1, 2015 at 9:18 am
RBG is AWESOME. She is definitely a terrific role model. Can you imagine her and Mae together at a cocktail party?
Tammy saysMay 30, 2015 at 1:42 am
“Send on of them home, I’m tired”. Haaa! Love that Mae!! I imagine it was tough being a woman in charge in those days. Damn good for her!
Kim Dalferes saysJune 1, 2015 at 9:20 am
Mae certainly did things her way, and, you’re right, it must have been tough to be “tough” in her day.
Jennifer saysMay 29, 2015 at 4:04 pm
Mae was a clever and talented woman. A lot of gusto packed into that short gal.I don’t have a female role model…and now I wonder why?
Kim Dalferes saysJune 1, 2015 at 9:21 am
LOL Jennifer, I’d volunteer to be your role model, but I think your standards should be just a tad higher. 🙂
Doreen McGettigan saysMay 29, 2015 at 3:49 pm
I love Mae West. What a great photo find! My youngest daughter is a little less than 5 foot tall and I always tell her to remember how mighty Mae was. I am also a big Dorothy Parker fan and I love all of Maya Angelou’s quotes.
Kim Dalferes saysJune 1, 2015 at 9:22 am
Oh, Dorothy Parker is a good one! Did you see the movie about her life – I thought it was pretty good flick.
Carol Cassara saysMay 29, 2015 at 3:44 pm
Would you believe I have no role models at all? But I love Mae.
Kim Dalferes saysJune 1, 2015 at 9:22 am
LOL Carol, that doesn’t surprise me at all – you are definitely your own person!
Lynne saysMay 29, 2015 at 1:50 pm
Love her quotes and the photo you found is so cool!
Kim Dalferes saysJune 1, 2015 at 9:24 am
I was SO excited to find that Mae photo. I’m also a big fan of Spencer Tracy for completely different reasons – but i’ts rare that I ever find a photo of him.
Tam Warner Minton saysMay 29, 2015 at 12:05 pm
I love Mae. I’ll choose the evil I’ve never tried before! Well said!
Kim Dalferes saysJune 1, 2015 at 9:25 am
Wouldn’t it be great to be known for such wit and wisdom? Did you know she’s often credited with discovering Carey Grant?
Mary saysMay 29, 2015 at 11:43 am
What a great photo of Mae you acquired. I love her quote “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Have a wonderful weekend!
Kim Dalferes saysJune 1, 2015 at 9:27 am
Thx Mary – hope you had a nice weekend as well. We spent most of yesterday smoking salmon and hanging out with our neighbors – I love summertime.
Rena McDaniel saysMay 29, 2015 at 10:33 am
I have to admit I knew very little about her but now I am fascinated! What a great find!
Kim Dalferes saysMay 29, 2015 at 10:47 am
Ain’t she great?
Sharon Greenthal saysMay 29, 2015 at 9:57 am
Here’s another little-known fact about Mae West – my grandfather toured with her for a year as one of her dancers when he was 23 years old (1935). He had a terrific time. Whenever we would ask him about it – did anything ever “happen,” he’d say this: “Nothing ever happened and it will never happen again.”
Kim Dalferes saysMay 29, 2015 at 10:44 am
This is AWESOME! And, that definitely sounds like something Mae would want one of her dancers to say!!
Jennifer saysMay 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm
That’s awesome Sharon! What a great quote from your Grandfather!
Leanne Le Cras saysMay 29, 2015 at 9:24 am
I saw this Mae West quote the other day: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” and thought it summed up life pretty succinctly – it’s now part of my midlife mantra.
Kim Dalferes saysMay 29, 2015 at 9:28 am
Oh I love that Mae quote as well! So many good ones.
Suzanne Fluhr saysMay 29, 2015 at 8:48 am
Hmm. My favorite woman role model? Probably not an actress. Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I guess I have a shockingly high nerd quotient. 😉
Kim Dalferes saysMay 29, 2015 at 9:05 am
I love RBG – “Well there’ve been nine men there for a long long time, right? So why not nine women?”