Mae West: An Icon in Black and White

3.3 avg rating
( 33 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780195105476: Mae West: An Icon in Black and White
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

"Why don't you come up and see me sometime?" Mae West invited and promptly captured the imagination of generations. Even today, years after her death, the actress and author is still regarded as the pop archetype of sexual wantonness and ribald humor. But who was this saucy starlet, a woman who was controversial enough to be jailed, pursued by film censors and banned from the airwaves for the revolutionary content of her work, and yet would ascend to the status of film legend?
Sifting through previously untapped sources, author Jill Watts unravels the enigmatic life of Mae West, tracing her early years spent in the Brooklyn subculture of boxers and underworld figures, and follows her journey through burlesque, vaudeville, Broadway and, finally, Hollywood, where she quickly became one of the big screen's most popular--and colorful--stars. Exploring West's penchant for contradiction and her carefully perpetuated paradoxes, Watts convincingly argues that Mae West borrowed heavily from African American culture, music, dance and humor, creating a subversive voice for herself by which she artfully challenged society and its assumptions regarding race, class and gender. Viewing West as a trickster, Watts demonstrates that by appropriating for her character the black tradition of double-speak and "signifying," West also may have hinted at her own African-American ancestry and the phenomenon of a black woman passing for white.
This absolutely fascinating study is the first comprehensive, interpretive account of Mae West's life and work. It reveals a beloved icon as a radically subversive artist consciously creating her own complex image.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:


Jill Watts is Associate Professor of History and has served as the Director of the History Department and Co-Director of the Women's Studies Program at California State University, San Marcos. She is the author of God, Harlem, U.S.A.: The Father Divine Story.

From Publishers Weekly:

art sexy blonde bombshell, part delusional Norma Desmond, West created an invulnerable, tough-talking, sexually assertive persona, partly to mask insecurities and psychological wounds from early sexual assaults, asserts Watts in this remarkably detailed and well-written biography. West played that indelible character on and off stage the rest of her life, often referring to herself in the third person. But West (1893-1980) was not just the actress who singlehandedly saved the financially strapped Paramount Pictures with her back-to-back hits in 1933, She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel. She was also a voluminous writer penning not only her films and plays but also three novels and an autobiography. Although now enshrined as a comedic institution, for virtually her entire career West's writing, singing, personality, acting and looks were blisteringly belittled by critics and yet the hard shell she'd created kept her marching confidently forward. Watts offers outstanding, clear-eyed analysis of West's career and how censorship affected her work. She's on less stable ground with her contention that West had African-American ancestry, which she attempts to prove not through documentation but by noting how West's personality, musical style, taste and interests stemmed from the African-American community. While it certainly appears that West (and others in her era) appreciated and borrowed from black artists and the Harlem Renaissance, it seems a stretch to claim West was attempting to reveal her roots every time a black character or ethnic slang appeared in her work. Still, West fans will welcome this new, enlightening biography of the enigmatic star, which offers a broader view of her impact on social and cultural history and as a First Amendment champion.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780195161120: Mae West: An Icon in Black and White

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0195161122 ISBN 13:  9780195161120
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2003
Softcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Watts, Jill
Published by Oxford University Press
ISBN 10: 0195105478 ISBN 13: 9780195105476
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Your Online Bookstore
(Houston, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Oxford University Press. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0195105478 Ships promptly from Texas. Seller Inventory # Z0195105478ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 21.84
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Jill Watts
Published by Oxford University Press (2001)
ISBN 10: 0195105478 ISBN 13: 9780195105476
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Oxford University Press, 2001. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0195105478

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 21.91
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Watts, Jill
Published by Oxford University Press (2001)
ISBN 10: 0195105478 ISBN 13: 9780195105476
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Oxford University Press, 2001. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110195105478

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 39.88
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Watts, Jill
ISBN 10: 0195105478 ISBN 13: 9780195105476
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
SPHINX BOOKSTORE
(OTTAWA, ON, Canada)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Condition: New. NEW BOOK ,MINT CONDITION AND3 DAYS EXPEDITED SHIPPING. Seller Inventory # SUN 2

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 38.03
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 16.00
From Canada to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Jill Watts
Published by Oxford University Press, USA (2001)
ISBN 10: 0195105478 ISBN 13: 9780195105476
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Oxford University Press, USA, 2001. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0195105478

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 60.42
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Watts, Jill
Published by Oxford University Press
ISBN 10: 0195105478 ISBN 13: 9780195105476
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Cloud 9 Books
(Wellington, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Oxford University Press. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0195105478 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0974443

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 59.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds