Mae West - Actresses, Life Achievements and Childhood

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Mae West's Personal Details

Mae West was an American actress and singer ranked among the greatest female stars of Classic American cinema

InformationDetail
BirthdayAugust 17, 1893
Died onNovember 22, 1980
NationalityAmerican
FamousJewish Actresses, Film & Theater Personalities, Actresses
SpousesFrank Szatkus, Guido Deiro, Paul Novak
SiblingsJohn Edwin West II, Katie West, Mildred Katherine West
Known asMary Jane West, West, Mae
Universities
  • Erasmus Hall High School
Birth PlaceBushwick
GenderFemale
FatherJohn Patrick West
MotherMatilda
Sun SignLeo
Born inBushwick
Famous asActress
Died at Age87

// Famous Film & Theater Personalities

Mae West's photo

Who is Mae West?

Mae West was an American actress, screenwriter, and singer ranked among the greatest female stars of Classic American cinema. A well-known sex symbol of her era, she was known to tackle controversial roles and steamy scenes with élan. Her blunt sexuality was what made her both famous and notorious. Mae became interested in the show business at an early age. The daughter of a former fashion model, she was encouraged to participate in amateur shows from a young age. Pretty and naturally talented, she began performing professionally in vaudeville in the Hal Clarendon Stock Company when she was 14. She first gained prominence after her appearance in a Broadway show at the age of 18. By this time there was no doubt in her mind that she was destined to be an actress. With the encouragement of her mother, she went on to establish herself as a successful stage actress before catching the attention of Hollywood. She was almost 40 when she ventured into films, but in spite of her advancing age, she quickly managed to build a reputation as a daring sex symbol. Along with being an actress, she was also a talented screenwriter and singer who released several albums.

// Famous Jewish Actresses

Childhood & Early Life

She was born as Mary Jane West in Bushwick, Brooklyn on August 17, 1893, to John Patrick West and Matilda. Her father was a prizefighter who later opened his own private investigation agency following a stint as a “special policeman”. Her mother was a former fashion model and aspiring actress who had to give up her acting dream due to family pressure.

Mae West developed an early interest in performing and was encouraged by her mother. She started appearing in amateur shows at the age of seven and won prizes at local talent shows.

Career

Mae West began her professional career in vaudeville in the Hal Clarendon Stock Company in 1907 at the age of 14. Initially she performed under the stage name of “Baby Mae” and also used the alias of “Jane Mast” in her early career.

She made her Broadway debut in a 1911 revue ‘A La Broadway’ put on by her former dancing teacher, Ned Wayburn. The show was not successful, but Mae got noticed for her skills. She went on to appear in several other plays over the next few years, earning a reputation as a sex symbol because of her risqué performances.

She began courting controversy early on in her career. Blessed with good writing skills, she also began writing her own plays. In 1926 she wrote, produced, and directed a play called ‘Sex’ in which she also starred. The play was commercially very successful due to the controversial nature of its subject but attracted the notice of city officials who raided the theater and arrested the cast, including Mae West.

West became even more popular after being released owing to the media coverage of the incident. She followed up ‘Sex’ with another highly controversial play called ‘The Drag’ which dealt with homosexuality as she was one of the early supporters of gay rights.

She enjoyed tremendous success as a stage actress and attracted the attention of film producers. Paramount Pictures offered her a motion picture contract in 1932 despite the fact that the actress was now nearing 40. She made her film debut in ‘Night After Night’ starring George Raft.

In 1933 she appeared in the crime comedy film ‘She Done Him Wrong’ which also starred Cary Grant in one of his earliest roles. The film was a box office hit and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The same year she was paired up with Grant again in ‘I'm No Angel’ which also proved to be a big hit.

Along with her film career, she also ventured into radio and appeared in two separate sketches on ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's radio show ‘The Chase and Sanborn Hour’. Her radio shows were full of sexually suggestive innuendos that greatly angered the conservative masses, especially the Catholics who deemed her to be vulgar and indecent. This affected her radio career.

During the 1940s her film career too started dwindling and she had to make extra efforts to get meaningful roles. She appeared in just two movies in the decade: ‘My Little Chickadee’ (1940) and ‘The Heat's On’ (1943).

She acted in a few plays in the 1950s and also starred in her own Las Vegas stage show, singing while surrounded by bodybuilders. The show was a success and ran for three years. She released her autobiography, ‘Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It’ in 1959 which went on to become a bestseller.

In the 1960s she embarked on a career as a singer and released several albums including ‘W.C. Fields His Only Recording Plus 8 Songs by Mae West’ (1960), ‘Way Out West’ (1966), ‘Wild Christmas’ (1966).

She also made occasional appearances on television. Her film career was all but over by the 1970s. Her last appearances on the big screen were in ‘Myra Breckinridge’ (1970) and ‘Sextette’ (1978).

Major Works

The movie ‘I'm No Angel’ was Mae West’s biggest success. It became very popular and probably saved Paramount Pictures from bankruptcy. She wrote the screenplay for the film and starred in it as a singer and dancer. Released in the Pre-Code era, this was one of the few Mae West movies that were not subjected to heavy censorship.

Awards & Achievements

Mae West has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street in Hollywood.

She has been inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in recognition of her contributions to the theater.

Personal Life & Legacy

Mae West got married for the first time in 1911 when she was 17 years old. Her husband was Frank Wallace, a fellow vaudevillian. The couple however kept their marriage a secret for a long time and legally divorced in 1942. The couple had never lived together as husband and wife.

She met and developed a passionate affair with the Italian-born vaudevillian Guido Deiro in 1913. The couple broke up in 1916. She also had relationships with other men, including James Timony, an attorney.

She later became involved with Chester Rybinski, one of the muscle-men in her Las Vegas stage show, who was 30 years her junior. He later changed his name to Paul Novak. Their relationship lasted until West’s death.

She suffered a stroke in August 1980 and another in September the same year. Her health worsened over the following weeks and she died on November 22, 1980, at the age of 87.

// Famous Actresses

Mae West biography timelines

  • // 17th Aug 1893
    She was born as Mary Jane West in Bushwick, Brooklyn on August 17, 1893, to John Patrick West and Matilda. Her father was a prizefighter who later opened his own private investigation agency following a stint as a “special policeman”. Her mother was a former fashion model and aspiring actress who had to give up her acting dream due to family pressure.
  • // 1907
    Mae West began her professional career in vaudeville in the Hal Clarendon Stock Company in 1907 at the age of 14. Initially she performed under the stage name of “Baby Mae” and also used the alias of “Jane Mast” in her early career.
  • // 1911
    She made her Broadway debut in a 1911 revue ‘A La Broadway’ put on by her former dancing teacher, Ned Wayburn. The show was not successful, but Mae got noticed for her skills. She went on to appear in several other plays over the next few years, earning a reputation as a sex symbol because of her risqué performances.
  • // 1911 To 1942
    Mae West got married for the first time in 1911 when she was 17 years old. Her husband was Frank Wallace, a fellow vaudevillian. The couple however kept their marriage a secret for a long time and legally divorced in 1942. The couple had never lived together as husband and wife.
  • // 1913 To 1916
    She met and developed a passionate affair with the Italian-born vaudevillian Guido Deiro in 1913. The couple broke up in 1916. She also had relationships with other men, including James Timony, an attorney.
  • // 1926
    She began courting controversy early on in her career. Blessed with good writing skills, she also began writing her own plays. In 1926 she wrote, produced, and directed a play called ‘Sex’ in which she also starred. The play was commercially very successful due to the controversial nature of its subject but attracted the notice of city officials who raided the theater and arrested the cast, including Mae West.
  • // 1932
    She enjoyed tremendous success as a stage actress and attracted the attention of film producers. Paramount Pictures offered her a motion picture contract in 1932 despite the fact that the actress was now nearing 40. She made her film debut in ‘Night After Night’ starring George Raft.
  • // 1933
    In 1933 she appeared in the crime comedy film ‘She Done Him Wrong’ which also starred Cary Grant in one of his earliest roles. The film was a box office hit and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The same year she was paired up with Grant again in ‘I'm No Angel’ which also proved to be a big hit.
  • // 1940 To 1943
    During the 1940s her film career too started dwindling and she had to make extra efforts to get meaningful roles. She appeared in just two movies in the decade: ‘My Little Chickadee’ (1940) and ‘The Heat's On’ (1943).
  • // 1959
    She acted in a few plays in the 1950s and also starred in her own Las Vegas stage show, singing while surrounded by bodybuilders. The show was a success and ran for three years. She released her autobiography, ‘Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It’ in 1959 which went on to become a bestseller.
  • // 1970 To 1978
    She also made occasional appearances on television. Her film career was all but over by the 1970s. Her last appearances on the big screen were in ‘Myra Breckinridge’ (1970) and ‘Sextette’ (1978).
  • // 22nd Nov 1980
    She suffered a stroke in August 1980 and another in September the same year. Her health worsened over the following weeks and she died on November 22, 1980, at the age of 87.

// Famous American

Mae West's FAQ

  • What is Mae West birthday?

    Mae West was born at 1893-08-17

  • When was Mae West died?

    Mae West was died at 1980-11-22

  • Where was Mae West died?

    Mae West was died in Los Angeles

  • Which age was Mae West died?

    Mae West was died at age 87

  • Where is Mae West's birth place?

    Mae West was born in Bushwick

  • What is Mae West nationalities?

    Mae West's nationalities is American

  • Who is Mae West spouses?

    Mae West's spouses is Frank Szatkus, Guido Deiro, Paul Novak

  • Who is Mae West siblings?

    Mae West's siblings is John Edwin West II, Katie West, Mildred Katherine West

  • What was Mae West universities?

    Mae West studied at Erasmus Hall High School

  • Who is Mae West's father?

    Mae West's father is John Patrick West

  • Who is Mae West's mother?

    Mae West's mother is Matilda

  • What is Mae West's sun sign?

    Mae West is Leo

  • How famous is Mae West?

    Mae West is famouse as Actress