Mae West, the fall dead gorgeous actress who career started at 38, is a prize of charm and also self-assurance. But her movie career could have never ever been, coming just after battling with opposition indigenous her very own family. In fact, she didn’t hit the big time till she was in her so late 30s.

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West to be born in Brooklyn, new York in 1893, come John and Matilda West. She to be originally named Mary, but her family called her Mae, a moniker she retained as her phase name.

She to be passionate about acting and stardom indigenous a very young age. In ~ three-years-old she was currently mimicking friends and also relatives, and fell in love v the vaudeville performances the her mom took her to watch from a young age.

Mae West

West an initial stepped onto the stage herself in 1907, in ~ the tender age of 14, follow to She signed up with Hal Clarendon’s share company, working the vaudeville and burlesque circuit. Her an initial taste the Broadway came in 1911 through a minor part in A La Broadway.

While the present was a failure, West’s performance revealed a really promising actress, causing a part in Vera Violetta and opening the door to roles in off-Broadway productions. Despite the success of Sometime in 1918, in i m sorry she famously danced the shimmy, West continued to be a function in vaudeville up until 1926 once “she concerned notoriety v her self-penned play, Sex”, writes

“Ev’rybody Shimmies Now” sheet music cover v portrait, 1918

Despite she clear talent because that acting, West’s household was not supportive of her career path. Her father, in particular, struggled to embrace West’s fame and also controversial image.

Her mommy was more supportive — having had actually a job in modelling she was able to relate to the experience her oldest daughter to be living.

As a sexy and outspoken actress that loved attention, West determined to make her personality and also charm her main asset. In the 1920s, she started writing and also producing her own plays.

Using word-play to lug sexual jokes, West ended up being at the same time very popular and also a public number with a contested image, one that was considered by some a “bad” function model.


A pair the “trick” platform pair of shoes worn by Mae West in films to do her look taller, which additionally contributed to her unique walk.

In 1926, West wrote and starred in the Broadway pat Sex. The play was an instant success, yet was sanctioned together obscene, and also resulted in West being sent out to jail because that ten days.

Because of her good behavior, she to be released after only eight days. The whole affair was an reliable career-booster for West, prove the dominance that no publicity is negative publicity.


Mae West, 1936

This sulfurous and sexy image would end up being intrinsic to West’s career. She retained writing plays for number of years, and also had actors find out two scrips. Among the scripts would contain her original writing, when the various other would have actually a more prude variation for a more reserved audience.

It was during that time the West wrote Diamond Lil. The display was a massive hit, with more than 300 performances top top Broadway alone.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, West was recognized for she ironic tone, which succeeded at ridiculing society’s codes and also perceptions that sex.


Publicity photograph with W. C. Areas for ‘My small Chickadee’ (1940)

Her success on stage slowed down v the good Depression, as the worldwide economy took a hit. Eager to stay on the top, West determined to leave new York and also relocated to Los Angeles.

The success West had sustained as one actress and also play writer had not gone unnoticed. In 1933 she starred together Lady Lou in She done Him Wrong, great Pictures’ adaptation of she Diamond Lil.


‘Diamond Lil’ returning to new York indigenous Hollywood, 1933

Mae West to be finally readily available a motion picture contract in 1932 by great Pictures, once she was currently 38-years-old. This contract not only introduced her cinema career, but saved Paramount from bankruptcy.

Despite the truth that the Hays Offices had designed a clause stipulating that the plays might never be turned right into movies for moral reasons, Paramount still made a very rewarding decision. The agency indeed grossed more than $2 million at package office.

From this moment, West went on to it is in a sex symbol, having actually honed her persona together a controversial and liberated woman. Her rare beauty inspired the style of the perfume Shocking through Elsa Schiaparelli. She also the well known painter Salvador Dali to architecture a sofa based on her lips, well-known as West Lips’ Sofa.

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The photo of a woman owning her charming beauty and also sexuality became the crucial to she success. Mae West tested societies’ norms, and also brought a various perception to sexual matters. Having actually been challenged herself by she family, West offered her own experiences to affect the world approximately her.


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