Has there ever been a sexier Hollywood star than the subject of our Monday Quiz — Brooklyn born Mary Jane West?
Sure Mae West, as she became to be known, had been around the block a few times by 1932 when she arrived in Hollywood. Fortyish, full figured and a fully-formed show biz veteran, she never quite fit the Hollywood prototype of either the slim, winsome ingenue or the seasoned actress/star with glamour to spare.
West made a specialty of confronting sexual matters head on: creating snappy, transgressive, self-mocking dialogue to accomplish her goal. When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad, I’m better… To much of a good thing can be…wonderful… Give a man a free hand and he’ll run it all over you… It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.
West didn’t make many movies, not much more than a dozen overall. And she stayed active a bit beyond her past-due date, appearing in such clunkers as Sextette and Myra Breckinridge. But her appearances in other platforms — from vaudeville and stage to radio and live touring performances — reinforced and extended her career. A notorious health nut, she died in 1980 at age 87.
How much do you know about this oddly iconic star? Try today’s quiz to find out. As usual, answers tomorrow. We are inspired here by Taschen publishing’s Mae West tome in its handsome Movie Icons series.
1) Question: Which one of the following descriptions was NOT applied to Mae West? a) Queen of the World; b) The Statue of Libido; c) As hot an issue as Hitler; or d) The Blond Bombshell.
2) Question: Which one of these titles is considered West’s biggest screen hit? a) Night After Night; b) My Little Chicadee; c) She Done Him Wrong; or d) I’m No Angel.
3) Question: Which one of the following was made a star after West cast him in one of her pictures? a) Wallace Beery; b) Gary Cooper; c) Cary Grant; or d) Gilbert Roland.
4) Question: George Raft, West’s costar in Night After Night, was famously referred to as her lover at the time they made the picture. a) True; or b) False?
5) Question: Mae West was director Billy Wilder’s first choice for the role of Norma Desmond played by Gloria Swanson in 1950’s Sunset Boulevard. a) True; or b) False?
6) Question: How many times was West officially married? a) Once; b) Five times; c) Three times; or d) Twice.
7) Question: In which movie did West exchange this famous bit of dialogue — Woman: Goodness what beautiful diamonds! West: Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie? a) Night After Night; b) Klondike Annie; c) Every Day’s A Holiday; or d) Go West Young Man.
8) Question: West was noted for hiring male bodybuilders to spice up her live touring shows. One hire stood out because he subsequently married a famous movie actress (not West). Can you name this bodybuilder and the actress he married?
9) Question: HBO Films is said to preparing a biopic based on West’s life. Who is set to play Mae? a) Reese Witherspoon; b) Scarlett Johannson; c) Charlize Theron; or d) Bette Midler.
10) Question: West was professionally an inveterate flirt who at one point came on to a famous puppet character on national radio. Can you identify the puppet and the puppeteer?