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Even long after her death, her name is synonymous with sex, yet Mae West, the brazen, busty blond bombshell, was as smart as she was sultry. Lifetime's Intimate Portrait: Mae West takes a look at the woman who challenged the sexual mores of her time and lit up the screen and stage with her audacious persona. Born Mary Jane in the late 1800s (her exact birth date is a mystery), she changed her name to Mae (with an e because "the y went down and an e went up," and she was going up) and began in vaudeville at the tender age of 8. Later, she worked in burlesque and on Broadway, writing, singing, and acting, until talking pictures came around; directors wanted actors with voices--and West certainly had a distinctive one. By 1935, she had the highest reported income of any woman in America. Her career spanned 80 years--a career in which she fought censors, cultivated an image of sexuality, and discovered Cary Grant. In her 60s she was still working onstage with bikini-clad muscle men and continuing with guest appearances; she wrote well into her 70s, her career drawing to a close after her appearance in 1978's Sextette, a film based on her own play. Using pictures, radio, film clips, and interviews with a producer, a film critic, her personal assistant, and TV commentator Rona Barrett, Intimate Portrait gives us a fascinating glimpse into the life of the woman considered to be the "greatest sexual icon of the 20th century." --Jenny Brown
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