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She Always Knew How: Mae West: A Personal Biography (Applause Books) Paperback – March 15, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Chandler (Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford) draws on her interviews with the 86-year-old Mae West, known for her "risqué brand of humor," in this chatty memoir. West carefully constructed and guarded the image of her personality as a woman who enjoyed sex at a time when "skirts had to cover ankles." She contended she was "never vulgar. The word for me was suggestive." West (1893–1980) craved the spotlight from a young age and had been a success in vaudeville, where she began to write her own material. Her screen legend perfected her sexually playful alter ego in such films as She Done Him Wrong, which contained her most quoted line: "Come up and see me sometime." Chandler also includes West's first-person account of her 10 days in jail, when she was found guilty of producing an immoral Broadway show, her first full-length play, Sex. West remained a box-office draw into her 70s, appearing in the 1970 film Myra Breckinridge. Whether discussing her love life or advising on playwriting or beauty tips, Mae West was always entertaining. Photos. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Chandler’s biographies of film notables include leading ladies Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis, and she continues with star/diva/legend Mae West, whose candid statements provide a solidly three-dimensional look at an iconic actress. More than a movie star, witty writer, comedienne, and astute businesswoman, West changed public consciousness with humor: What I’m proudest of is that I offered entertainment, not a message. But there was a message, too, only it was subliminal, hidden behind the wisecrack. Women told me that I inspired them to stand up and walk on their own two feet. At 86, West was reluctant to give interviews, but could not refuse longtime friend and favorite director George Cukor, who arranged the meeting. The result is conversation laced with revelation from the woman who’d been performing since her star-struck debut at Brooklyn’s Royal Theatre amateur show, when the clothes-conscious little girl stamped her foot, demanded her spotlight, and won first prize: $10 and a gold medal. The story of Diamond Lil should see demand from film buffs and mainstream fans alike. --Whitney Scott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Charlotte Chandler’s access to Mae West in her later years is impressive and her accounting of their conversations is truly amazing. At first I liked the first hand quoting in Ms. West’s own words but toward the end of the book, I was getting tired of the first hand monolog. This seems to be a specific writing style of Ms. Chandler since she uses exact quotes from other people who knew Ms. West who she also interviews for the book. I wish there was more insight into the real Mae West unless, of course, if Ms. West was really like her public persona then I applaud Ms. Chandler for writing a wonderful book. In either event, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a very misunderstood, very complex and completely American character. Many of our present Hollywood actors and actresses should take a lesson from Ms. West on how a real professional should live.