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Mae West Biographical Timeline

Mae West flaunts her assets for the film She Done Him Wrong, 1933

August 17, 1893: Mary Jane West is born to John Patrick and Mathilda West on Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.

c.1896: Sister Mildred West is born (name later changed to Beverly).

c.1900: Brother John West II is born.

c.1901: West makes her show business debut as Baby Mae in an amateur evening competition at the Royal Theater; she wins a contest with her rendition of “Moving Day.”

c.1901-1905: West performs in Hal Clarendon’s stock company, doing such plays as UNCLE TOM’S CABIN (as Little Eva), TEN NIGHTS IN A BARROOM, and FOR THEIR CHILD’S SAKE.

c.1908: West plays a rural girl in William Hogan’s stage presentation of HUCK FINN; during her tour with the show West meets Frank Wallace.

April 11, 1911: West secretly marries Wallace in Milwaukee but separates from him within a year.

September 22, 1911: West appears in a Ned Wayburn revue titled A LA BROADWAY at the Folies-Bergere Theater in New York.

November 20, 1911: West opens in VERA VIOLETTA for the Shubert Brothers.

1912: West teams with the Gerard Brothers (Bobby O’Neil and Harry Laughlin) for a vaudeville circuit tour; she wows audiences in New Haven with her suggestive wriggles; she dismisses the Gerard Brothers and goes solo.

April 11, 1912: West plays the role of La Petite Daffy in WINSOME WIDOW, a musical comedy produced by Florenz Ziegfeld.

1913: West debuts her solo comedienne act billed as the “Original Brinkley Girl” on the Keith Circuit.

1914: West has a passionate romantic affair with accordionist Guido Deiro.

1916: West begins her longtime association with lawyer and later manager Jim Timony.

October 4, 1918: SOMETIME opens at the Shubert Theater with West as a chorus girl; she introduces the shimmy dance to Broadway; the show closes in July 1919.

December 25, 1919: West is featured on the cover of the NEW YORK DRAMATIC MIRROR.

August 15, 1921: THE MIMIC WORLD OF 1921 opens with West cast as Cleopatra in a sketch titled “Shakespeare’s Garden of Love.”

1921: West receives copyright for her one-act play THE RUBY RING.

1922: West teams with Harry Richman for a long vaudeville run.

1922: West writes THE HUSSY with Adeline Leitzbach.

1924: West used the name Sydney Rosenfeld to adapt CHICK from a play by Carl Jacoby.

Mae West in a scene from “Sex,” one of the 3 plays raided by police. Photo: Getty Images

April 26, 1926: West’s play SEX opens in New York’s Daly’s Theater.

January 31, 1927: West’s play THE DRAG opens in Bridgeport, CT, for a trial run, but it never plays in New York due to lack of approval by screening committee.

New York: Members of the cast of Sex, were hauled to court charged with giving a performance not tending to advance the morals of the spectators. Principal members of the cast were brought before the bar. Photo shows Mae West and Barry O’Neill, two of the principal actors as they appeared in the west court before Judge Simpson. Photo: Getty Images

February 27, 1927: SEX is raided by the police, and West is indicted for immorality.

April 20, 1927: West is fined $500 and sentenced to ten days on Welfare Island for her authorship of SEX (she serves eight days).

November 4, 1927: West’s play THE WICKED AGE opens in Daly’s Theater for 19 performances; West closes the play due to contract disagreements with the leading man.

Mae West in her famous swan bed in the play Diamond Lil, 1928.

1928: West has affair with George Raft during rehearsals for DIAMOND LIL.

April 9, 1928: West’s play DIAMOND LIL opens at the Royale and plays through January 12, 1929.

September 17, 1928: West’s play THE PLEASURE MAN opens at the Bronx Opera House; it opens at the Biltmore on October 1 and is raided twice by the police.

Mae West with her attorney at the trial for her controversial play Pleasure Man.

1929: West tours with DIAMOND LIL; she suffers severe abdominal pains during performances in Chicago and is healed by Sri Deva Ram Sukul, beginning her interest in the powers of spiritualism.

1930: West writes the play FRISCO KATE.

1930: West’s novel BABE GORDON is published by Macaulay Company; it is retitled THE CONSTANT SINNER.
January 26, 1930 West’s mother dies of cancer.

March 1930: THE PLEASURE MAN trials are held; West and cast are acquitted April 4, 1930.

September 14, 1931: West’s play THE CONSTANT SINNER opens at the Royale and closes on November 7, 1931.

June 1932: West and Timony travel to Hollywood for her first film role.

Mae West on the set of her first film, Night After Night.

October 1932: NIGHT AFTER NIGHT opens, with West as Maudie Triplett.

1932: The novelization of DIAMOND LIL is published by Macaulay Company.

Mae West in the film “She Done Him Wrong.”

February 1933: SHE DONE HIM WRONG is released by Paramount.

Mae West as Tira does a “muscle dance” in the film “I’m No Angel” in 1933. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo

October 4, 1933: I’M NO ANGEL premieres at the Oriental theater in Chicago.

January 1934: A wax likeness of West is unveiled in Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks in London.

January 1934: SHE WRONGED HIM RIGHT, a Betty Boop cartoon, is released.

Mae West admires a boxer on the set of “Belle of the Nineties” in 1934. Photo: by George Hoyningen-Huene/Conde Nast via Getty Images

September 1934: BELLE OF THE NINETIES is released.

January 7, 1935: West’s father dies of cerebral embolism and myocarditis.

April 21, 1935: Works Progress Administration (WPA) worker accidentally uncovers record of West’s marriage to Frank Wallace; West denies accusations of her marriage.

May 1935: GOIN’ TO TOWN opens in theaters.

September 27, 1935: Frank Wallace opens his “Mister Mae West” act at the Eltinge Theater.

1935: West is the highest paid woman in America, and the second highest paid person (behind William Randolph Hearst).

February 1936: KLONDIKE ANNIE is released.

March 1936: West signs contract with Emanuel Cohen after a series of arguments with Paramount executives.

November 1936: GO WEST, YOUNG MAN is released.

July 7, 1937: Under oath in court, West finally admits her marriage to Wallace.

December 12, 1937: West guests on the Chase and Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy; her Adam and Eve sketch with Don Ameche creates furor and causes her to be effectively banned from radio for many years.

January 1938: EVERY DAY’S A HOLIDAY opens and becomes her first box office failure.

February 1940: MY LITTLE CHICKADEE is released.

Fall 1941: West meets Reverent Thomas Jack Kelly who will become her spiritual counselor until his death in 1960.

1942: West finally legally divorces Wallace.

Mae West in her film “The Heat’s On.”

February 1943: THE HEAT’S ON is released.

August 2, 1944: CATHERINE WAS GREAT premieres at Shubert Theater (playing until January 13, 1945); West then tours with the production.

May 16, 1946: RING TWICE TONIGHT opens in Long Beach, CA, before a cross-country tour; title is changed to COME ON UP.

September 11, 1947: West sails to England to begin a successful production of DIAMOND LIL (until May 1948).

November 1948: West begins an American revival tour of DIAMOND LIL.

February 5, 1949: DIAMOND LIL opens at Coronet Theater in New York.

January 5, 1950: West is Perry Como’s guest on the Chesterfield Supper Club radio show; she and Como combine talents on the “Comeo and Juliet” sketch.

April 5, 1954: Jim Timony dies of a heart attack.

July 27, 1954: West opens her muscleman nightclub act in Las Vegas; she performs the routine until 1959.

1955: THE FABULOUS MAE WEST is recorded on the Decca label.

November 1955: CONFIDENTIAL magazine publishes a scandalous article about West and a black boxer, Chalky Wright.

November 1957: Publisher of CONFIDENTIAL magazine is fined for printing libelous articles about West and other stars.

March 26, 1958: West sings a duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Rock Hudson on the Academy Awards show.

1959: GOODNESS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, West’s autobiography, is published by Prentice-Hall.

October 1959: West is interviewed by Charles Collingwood about her autobiography for “Person to Person”: the show is considered too controversial for broadcast and is never aired.

March 1960: West appears on the Red Skelton Hour in a parody of the controversial “Person to Person” interview.

Fall 1960: Reverend Thomas Jack Kelly dies.

July 7, 1961: West’s SEXTETTE premieres in Chicago; production is plagued by West’s laryngitis and the death of Alan Marshall.

April 1962: West appears at the Friar’s Club Roast of Harry Richman in Los Angeles; she is the first woman guest at the club.

March 1964: West is a guest on the “Mr. Ed” show on CBS.

1964: West’s brother Jack dies.

September 1964: West is hospitalized and diagnosed as diabetic; she suffers a mild heart attack.

June 1966: West fights the publication of THE WIT AND WISDOM OF MAE WEST.

1966: West’s WAY OUT WEST rock album and WILD CHRISTMAS are released by Tower Records.

February 10, 1968: West is honored by USC cinema fraternity Delta Kappa Alpha.

1970: MYRA BRECKINRIDGE is released; West attends the world premiere at the Criterion Theater in New York on June 24.

November 1970: West is selected as the “Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” by USC fraternity.

1971: UCLA names West “Woman of the Century.”

1972: Venice Film Festival honors West and Billy Wilder.

December 1972: West is guest on Frank Bresee’s “Golden Days of Radio” Christmas broadcast.

1972: West’s GREAT BALLS OF FIRE album is released.

April 1974: West is awarded the Masquers Club George Spelvin award.

1975: MAE WEST ON SEX, HEALTH, AND ESP is published by W.H. Allen in London.

February 1976: West tapes a “Backlot USA” special with Dick Cavett.

May 12, 1977: West receives the Ruby Award from AFTER DARK magazine and appears in person at the award banquet.

1978: SEXTETTE is released; West attends the March 2 Hollywood opening and the November 16 San Francisco premiere.

1979: West records several humorous radio ads for Poland Spring.

November 22, 1980: West dies after a series of strokes (that began on August 10).



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