Mae West: Sepia
• • In When I'm Bad, I'm Better, Marybeth Hamilton discusses how Mae West's former lover George Raft, who was becoming a matinee idol in Hollywood during 1932, was instrumental in getting Mae a cameo role as Maudie Triplett, his blowsy ex-girlfriend in "Night After Night." Hamilton also explains how Mae was aghast at being cast in such a colorless bit part — — and then went on to revise her dialogue and win all the applause. "If nothing else," writes Hamilton, "[Mae West] showed Paramount that they were dealing with an expert scene stealer."
• • It is not surprising that Marybeth Hamilton mentions the hatcheck girl's line: "Goodness, what beautiful diamonds!" and Maudie Triplett's famous comeback: "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie!" [Mae borrowed the routine from her diamond-draped pal Texas Guinan.]
• • What was left unsaid in this study (and other Mae West books) about that film scene?
• • Curiously, no writer ever mentions that Paramount made the 21-year-old actress Patricia Farley [born 22 August 1911] play the role of the hatcheck girl in blackface.
• • Take a peek. Do you remember the sepia-skinned beauty in the scene — — or not? How come no one ever mentions the deliberately darkened skin? Why not?
• • Here's another question: which house in the West 50s inspired the plot of "Night After Night" [originally titled "Number 55"]? Which heiress was raised in that stately residence? Which Pulitzer Prize-winner wrote the short story that Hollywood adapted for the screenplay? Which gangster met his death on the marble staircase?
• • Since Mae West was known to champion dark-skinned actors in her Broadway projects, it was probably assumed that the hatcheck girl in this scene was one more sepia beauty out of Harlem.
• • Production on "Night After Night" began in August 1932.
Courting Mae West
• • Photo: Mae West • • Patricia Farley • • 1932 • •