She never played the innocent coquette. Neither was she the sophisticated beauty.
With her distinctive platinum blond hair, flagrant sashaying and randy quips, she conquered vaudeville, Broadway stage (eg. Sex and The Drag), and blazingly emerged as one of 1930s Hollywood’s biggest box office draws.
She reeked of pure sexual attitude. La sulfureuse, as the French put it.
Few attained fame and international popularity as quickly as did Mae West, the subject of our Monday Quiz. Her full-figured, voluptuous image even inspired the naming of the inflatable life vest worn by Allied airmen in World War II. She was otherwise described as “the Big Ben of hourglass figures.”
How much do you know about this Hollywood icon? To find out, here are the answers to yesterday’s Monday Quiz. (To review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below.)
1) Answer: d) The Blond Bombshell. Although West was not characterized as such, she certainly was exactly that.
2) Answer: c) She Done Him Wrong and d) I’m no Angel, both dating from 1933. The former with Noah Beery cost $200,000 to make but returned $2.2 million at the box office. The action for the latter was even swifter: Angel grossed $2.3 million. So on this one, take your choice.
3) Answer: c) Cary Grant, who West spied on the set of She Done Him Wrong. Informed that he was an extra, she said: “If he can’t talk, I’ll take him.” West did not “discover” Grant. He had appeared in eight other pictures including 1932’s Blond Venus with Marlene Dietrich. But Mae certainly appreciated what Grant had to offer.
4) Answer: Probably b) false. Raft was coy on the question of his romantic relationship with West at the time she made her screen debut opposite him in 1932’s Night After Night. But it’s widely believed the two had an affair back in their respective vaudeville days (yes, Raft was a star dancer).
5) Answer: a) True. Billy Wilder did pitch a middle-aged West for the Norma Desmond role in Sunset Boulevard, but was dismayed to discover that Mae really did believe she was still a youngish sexpot. Gloria Swanson, apparently, had no such illusions.
6) Answer: West was always dodgy about her marital status but it appears she was married d) twice: to accordionist Guido Deiro and to vaudevillian Frank Szatkus, aka Frank Wallace. Neither union worked out well.
7) Answer: a) Night After Night.
8) Answer: Mickey Hargitay, who married Jayne Mansfield in 1958, about four years after appearing as a super buff adornment in West’s “muscleman” show.
9) Answer: d) Bette Midler.
10) Answer: Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.