(Click on the calendar to hear Carl Sagan once again on the Universe and Us)
Mary Jane "Mae" West (August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980)was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades.
Known for her bawdy double entendres, West made a name for herself in vaudeville and on the stage in New York before moving to Hollywood to become a comedienne, actress and writer in the motion picture industry.
(Click on Mae's image above for the best of her (in)famous quips)
In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute named West 15th among the greatest female stars of all time. One of the more controversial movie stars of her day, West encountered many problems, including censorship. When her cinematic career ended, she continued to perform on stage, in Las Vegas, in the United Kingdom, on radio and television, and recorded rock and roll albums. Asked about the various efforts to impede her career, West said, "I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it."
Mae West - at premiere of her last film in 1978
Eduardo Galeano: Dangerous Woman
Mae West, sinning flesh, voracious vampiress, was born in 1893.
In 1907, she and her entire entourage went to jail for having put on stage at a Broadway theatre an invitation to pleasure, subtly called 'Sex'.
When she finished serving time for her 'crime of public obscenity', she decided to move from Broadway to Hollywood, from stage to screen, believing that the kindom of freedom was about to arrive.
But in 1930, to ward off government censorship, Hollywood invented its own certificate of moral correctness, which for thirty-eight years determined which movies could open and which could not.
The Hays Code sought to keep the movies free of nudity, suggestive dances, lustful kissing, adultery, homosexuality and other perversions that undermine the sanctity of marriage and family. Not even Tarzan's films escaped unscathed, and Betty Boop had to put on a long skirt. Naturally, Mae West kept getting into trouble.
...Children of the Days (17 August) - Copyright Eduardo Galleano 2012 - Penguin Books