Reports of Mae West's deaths are highly exaggerated. On February
7, 2004, MAE WEST was last seen, in a former courtroom on Sixth Avenue
and West 9th Street [in Greenwich Village, NYC], where she was on trial
on February 9, 1927 for obscenity.
She was born in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York on August 17, 1893 and named "Mary Jane West" because her Irish paternal grandmother's name was Mary Jane Conley. But her parents called their daughter MAY; when she was older and had started performing in vaudeville, the aspiring actress altered the spelling to MAE. Why? In truth and in fact, in the early 1900s there was already another female entertainer on the circuit whose name was "May West" but Mae, attuned to myth-making, gave a different explanation to the gullible newspaper reporters, saying that the letter E went up, whereas the Y went down. And so the MAE WEST legend began, the staginess that would lead her from the pages of a play to the timelessness of an icon. Happy Birthday to anyone born in August under the sign of LEO.
To be continued . . .