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Mae West

Mae West
Usage Conditions Apply
Miguel Covarrubias, 22 Nov 1904 - 4 Feb 1957
New Yorker, founded 1925
Mae West, 17 Aug 1893 - 22 Nov 1980
c. 1928
Gouache and ink on paper
Image/Sheet: 34.7 x 28.8cm (13 11/16 x 11 5/16")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9cm (28 x 22")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Condé Nast
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Brooklyn, New York
"I used to be Snow White, but I . . . drifted." Mae West—actress, playwright, and screenwriter—was known equally for her double-entendres. She first burst into fame dancing the "shimmy" in the 1918 Shubert Brothers revue Sometime. Soon she began incorporating outrageous moves and lines into all of her performances. In 1926, she wrote, directed, and starred in the Broadway play Sex, a show that created such a scandal that she was prosecuted on morals charges. West served eight days in jail but capitalized on the widespread media attention it gave her. Undaunted, she wrote The Wicked Age, Pleasure Man, and The Constant Sinner before striking gold in 1928 with her play Diamond Lil. Hollywood then beckoned, where West—after boosting Cary Grant’s career in 1933 in She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel—scored her biggest box-office hit co-starring with W. C. Fields in My Little Chickadee (1940).
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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