Mae West was an American actress, playwright, and singer who was regarded as one of Hollywood’s finest female stars. She was a well-known sex symbol of her time, noted for taking on provocative parts and hot sequences with aplomb. Her outspoken sexuality made her famous as well as notorious. Mae had an interest in show business from a young age. She was encouraged to engage in amateur shows from a young age as the daughter of a former fashion model. She began acting professionally in vaudeville when she was 14 years old with the Hal Clarendon Stock Company. She rose to notoriety after appearing in a Broadway production when she was 18 years old. She had no doubt in her mind that she was destined to be an actress at this point. She went on to become a successful stage actress thanks to her mother’s encouragement before gaining Hollywood’s attention. She was nearly 40 when she first entered the film industry, but despite her advanced age, she rapidly established a reputation as a bold sex symbol. She was a skilled screenwriter and singer who published multiple albums in addition to being an actress.
Childhood and Adolescence
Mary Jane West was born on August 17, 1893, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to John Patrick West and Matilda. Her father was a prizefighter who went on to create his own private investigative firm after serving as a “special police officer.” Her mother was a former model and aspiring actress who was forced to abandon her acting ambitions owing to family pressure.
Mae West’s enthusiasm in acting began at a young age, and her mother supported her. She began performing in amateur performances when she was seven years old and won honors in local talent events.
A Career of Mae West
Mae West began her professional vaudeville career in 1907, when she was 14 years old, with the Hal Clarendon Stock Company. During her early career, she went by the stage name “Baby Mae” and also went by the alias “Jane Mast.”
Her Broadway début was in the 1911 revue ‘A La Broadway,’ which was produced by her former dance teacher, Ned Wayburn. Despite the fact that the musical was a flop, Mae’s talents were recognized. Over the next few years, she appeared in a number of other plays, acquiring a reputation as a sex symbol for her risqué performances.
Early in her career, she began courting controversy. She began composing her own plays after being gifted with strong writing skills. She wrote, produced, and directed ‘Sex,’ a play in which she also starred, in 1926. Due to the contentious nature of the subject, the play was a commercial success, but it drew the attention of city officials, who raided the theater and detained the performers, including Mae West.
Because of the media coverage of the incident, West became even more popular after his release. She followed up ‘Sex’ with ‘The Drag,’ another very contentious play about homosexuality, as she was one of the first proponents of gay rights.
As a theater actress, she had a lot of success and drew the attention of film makers. Despite the fact that she was approaching 40 years old, she was offered a motion picture contract by Paramount Pictures in 1932. She made her cinematic debut in George Raft’s ‘Night After Night.’
She made her film debut in the crime comedy ‘She Done Him Wrong’ in 1933, alongside Cary Grant in one of his early appearances. The film was a box office success and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. In the same year, she starred alongside Grant again in ‘I’m No Angel,’ which was also a tremendous smash.
She appeared in two consecutive sketches on ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s radio show ‘The Chase and Sanborn Hour’, in addition to her cinema career. Her radio performances were full of sexually provocative innuendos, which enraged conservatives, particularly Catholics, who thought she was vulgar and indecent. Her radio career was harmed as a result of this.
Her cinematic career began to dwindle in the 1940s, and she had to work extra hard to secure important roles. In the decade, she only starred in two films: ‘My Little Chickadee’ (1940) and ‘The Heat’s On’ (1943).
In the 1950s, she appeared in a few plays and even had her own Las Vegas stage performance, where she sang while surrounded by bodybuilders. The show was a hit, and it lasted three years. In 1959, she published her autobiography, ‘Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It,’ which became a best-seller.
She began her singing career in the 1960s, releasing albums such as ‘W.C. Fields His Only Recording Plus 8 Songs by Mae West’ (1960), ‘Way Out West’ (1966), and ‘Wild Christmas’ (1967). (1966).
She also made appearances on television on occasion. By the 1970s, her cinematic career had all but ended. Her final film roles were in ‘Myra Breckinridge’ (1970) and ‘Sextette’ (1971). (1978).
Major Projects of Mae West
Mae West’s biggest hit was the film “I’m No Angel.” It was a huge hit, and it most likely saved Paramount Pictures from bankruptcy. She developed the screenplay and performed as a singer and dancer in the film. This was one of the few Mae West films that was not heavily censored when it was released in the Pre-Code era.
Achievements & Awards
At 1560 Vine Street in Hollywood, Mae West has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In appreciation of her services to the theater, she was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
Personal History and Legacy
When Mae West was 17 years old, she married for the first time. Frank Wallace, a fellow vaudevillian, was her spouse. The couple, on the other hand, kept their marriage a secret for a long time and divorced formally in 1942. They’d never lived together as husband and wife before.
In 1913, she met and began a passionate relationship with Italian-born vaudevillian Guido Deiro. In 1916, the couple divorced. She also had affairs with other men, including attorney James Timony.
Chester Rybinski, one of the strong men in her Las Vegas stage show, was 30 years her junior when she began involved with him. Later, he went under the name Paul Novak. They remained together until West’s death.
In August 1980, she had a stroke, followed by another in September of the same year. Over the next few weeks, her health deteriorated, and she died on November 22, 1980, at the age of 87.
Estimated Net Worth
Mae is one of the wealthiest movie actresses and one of the most well-known. Mae West’s net worth is estimated to be at $20 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.