Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mae West as Diamond Lil

Diamond Lil, a play written and starred in by Mae West opened on this day in 1928

From Today in Literature:

"Diamond Lil is all mine and I she. She’s I, and in my modest way I consider her a classic. Like Hamlet, sort of, but funnier.

Mae West, Diamond Lil’s star and writer, sort of

How much West wrote of Diamond Lil was a long-running dispute with collaborator Mark Linden, but there is no doubt that her performance as Lil, and her recent notoriety, made the play the great success it was. West had just been jailed for the provocations of her play, Sex. Her new play dressed the same topic in more respectable clothes, and became an instant hit. In his 1928 review, New York Herald Tribune critic poked fun at the idea West had reformed herself, and the idea that anybody wanted her to:

The result of Miss West’s reformation is that the Theater Royale is crowded at each performance of Diamond Lil with persons anxious to encourage a conscious-stricken transgressor in her desire to be meritorious. It is one of the “hits” of the waning season and vies in money-making values with the most prosperous output of dramatists who have never been to jail."

Best-known quotes from Mae West:

Hello there, warm, dark, and handsome.

Why don't you come up some time and see me?

When I'm good I'm very good but when I'm bad I'm better.

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