1001 W 75TH ST. WOODRIDGE, IL 630-427-1880

Hollywood Memorial

Mae West

The bawdy invitation she often extended, ‘Come up and see me sometime,’ became synonymous with the buxom star and legendary entertainer, who made her theatrical debut at age seven at an Elks-sponsored amateur talent contest on the stage of a local vaudeville theater, winning a gold medal and launching her career. Later encouraged by her mother to create her own plays, she authored ‘Sex’ in 1926 (for which she was actually arrested), ‘The Drag’ and ‘The Wicked Age’ in 1927, in 1928 ‘Diamond Lil’ (the character ‘Diamond Lil’ virtually became Mae West’s alter-ego), then ‘Pleasure Man’ in 1928, and ‘The Constant Sinner’ in 1931, after which she journeyed to Hollywood to appear in ‘Night After Night’ starring George Raft and Constance Cummings for Paramount. Her films were re-edited and single-handedly saved debt-ridden Paramount from bankruptcy in the early 1930s; ‘Night’ was Mae West’s first in an even dozen Classic films that spanned 46 years. [‘She Done Him Wrong’ (based on a hugely popular play she had written, which earned her an Oscar nomination and made a star of newcomer Cary Grant) and ‘I’m No Angel’ also with Cary Grant, ‘My Little Chickadee’ with W.C. Fields, ‘Myra Breckenridge’ with John Huston and her final motion picture, ‘Sextette’ with Timothy Dalton (1978).] The controversy aroused by two of these films resulted in the studios establishing the Motion Picture Production Code, which regulated what content could be shown or said in pictures. As a result of these codes, Mae began to double-talk so that a person could take a word or phrase any way they wished, this was so she could get her material past the censors, and it worked. Some of her classic one liners…’ When caught between two evils, I generally pick the one I have never tried before.’When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad, I’m better.’Marriage is a great institution. I’m not ready for an institution.’I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.’Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I’m tired.’Sex is an emotion in motion.’I do all my writing in bed; everybody knows I do my best work there.’To err is human, but it feels divine.’Few men know how to kiss well. Fortunately, I’ve always had time to teach them.’I always save one boyfriend for a rainy day…and another in case it doesn’t rain.’A hard man is good to find.’When women go wrong, men go right after them!’It’s not the man in your life that counts. It’s the life in your man.’Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?’I only like two kinds of men: domestic and foreign.’Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.’I wrote the story myself. It’s all about a girl who lost her reputation but never missed it.’It ain’t sin if you crack a few laws now and then, just so long as you don’t break any.’Additionally, she performed her stage play ‘Diamond Lil’ for standing room only audiences across the country for nearly 5 years (including an 8 month tour of England in 1947). Record-breaking night club appearances ensued in Las Vegas, Reno, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Mae West was heard on radio shows (most notably Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy) and made select television appearances, including The Academy Awards Show with Rock Hudson. During World War II the British Royal Air Force immortalized her name in the dictionary by naming an inflatable life jacket after her two most famous attributes. Mae West starred in every facet of show business, in a career that spanned over 75 years, praised by the critics, slammed by the censors, and loved by audiences the world over. She was celebrated as the epitome of witty sexuality, employing clever double-entendres throughout the course of her career and maneuvering them past the eyes and ears of the censors, causing her public to adore her even more. She was often quoted as saying, ‘I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.’ In her 1959 autobiography, ‘Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It,’ Miss West advised: ‘Let go of the things that can’t possibly matter to you, and you’ll always have room for the better things that come along. I learned early that two and two are four, and five will get you ten if you know how to work it.’ Describing herself she explained, ‘It isn’t what I do, but how I do it. It isn’t what I say, but how I say it and how I look when I do it and say it.’ She appears on the sleeve of The Beatles ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ West at first declined to be pictured on the cover (‘What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?!’), but reconsidered when the Beatles sent her a handwritten personal request. Mae West passed away November 22, 1980 in her Hollywood apartment (the Ravenswood, scene of hundreds of sexual conquests) after a brief illness. Private services were attended by about 100 close friends and family and held in the Old North Church at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills. Her eulogy concluded with ‘Mae West always said that no one was ever to feel sorry for her, and she would not want anyone to start now….Mae West figured that in one way or another she would live forever. And she probably will.’ After the Hollywood services, she was sent East to the family mausoleum at Cypress Hills Abbey in Brooklyn, New York. She was named the number 15 Best Actress on The American Film Institutes 50 Greatest Screen Legends.