West, Mae

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West, Mae Gender: F
Mary Jane West
born on 17 August 1892 at 22:30 (= 10:30 PM )
Place Brooklyn (Kings County), New York, 40n38, 73w56
Timezone EST h5w (is standard time)
Data source
From memory
Rodden Rating A
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_leocol.18.gif 25°36' s_mo.18.gif s_cancol.18.gif 02°38 Asc.s_taucol.18.gif 25°07'

Mae West


American stage and film actress with regal postures, delightful wit and insinuation and whose sexy quips have remained as a humorous part of our language. Actually, she never disrobed or used any profanity in her 15 plays and 11 movies. She wrote, produced and starred in her own shows featuring a frank, ironic view of sexuality and became an American icon. She usually portrayed women of dubious virtue with flippant humor. Writing her own material, she created one-liners that became part of the American lexicon, such as "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you glad to see me?" This was during a time when the word "pregnant" could not be used in public and books we now regard as classics were banned as obscene, such as Leaves of Grass, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Gone With the Wind and even Jimmy Stewart’s kiss was left on the cutting-room floor of "It’s a Wonderful Life."

Mae West was born in Brooklyn, New York to a onetime prizefighter and his wife, a former corset and fashion model who had come to the U.S. from Bavaria. She has a younger sister and a younger brother. West’s earliest memory was of "her mother massaging her with baby oil." Her mother pushed her onto the stage at the age of six as the Baby Vamp, and she began her career singing in lodge halls. She made her stage debut with a Brooklyn stock company about 1901. By 1907 she was performing on the national vaudeville circuit with Frank Wallace. Her first Broadway appearance was in the revue "A la Broadway and Hello, Paris" on 22 September 1911. She continued to alternate between Broadway and vaudeville, with an occasional nightclub act, for the next 15 years. Married briefly to Wallace in 1910, she promptly left him to appear in Follies Bergere, moving on to Hollywood and films. She never allowed herself to be dependent on a man, financially or otherwise.

Mae West was born for fur coats, diamonds and long gowns to flatter her five-foot height. She had flawless skin and intense blue eyes with dagger-length false lashes and highly sensual lips. Her exquisitely shaped and youthful hands were her most remarkable feature. In 1926 she began to write, produce and star in her own plays on Broadway. Her first, "Sex," opened on 26 April 1926 and featured West as a prostitute. The play created a sensation and earned her an eight-day jail sentence for "corrupting the morals of youth." She emerged as a national figure. "Diamond Lil," 1928 and "The Constant Sinner." 1931 were also successful.

West moved to Hollywood in 1932. Her first film there, "Night After Night," 1932, showed her characteristic light-hearted approach. "She Done Him Wrong," 1933, as screen adaptation of "Diamond Lil," contains the memorable, suggestive line, "Come up and see me sometime." She wrote and costarred in "I’m No Angel," 1933, in which she fulfilled a lifelong fantasy of being a lion trainer. "Belle of the Nineties," 1934 and "Klondike Annie," 1936 brought her heightened popularity. After two more films, she co-authored and co-starred with W.C. Fields in the comic western "My Little Chickadee," 1940. Allied soldiers during World War II called their inflatable life jackets "Mae Wests" in honor or her hourglass figure. Her films were revived in the 1960s, and she appeared in "Myra Breckenridge" in 1970 and "Sextette" in 1979.

The title of her autobiography, "Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It," written in 1929, shows her own appreciation for her lovely figure, provocative language, and unique style: it was a retort one of her characters made to the comment, "Goodness, what beautiful diamonds!" A gracious hostess, she asked that her guests not smoke, but offered drinks, even though she was a lifelong tea-totaler.

West loved many a prize-fighter and had a major affair and lifelong friendship with English-born gangster Owney Madden. For the last 27 years of her life her devoted companion was Paul Novak, who had been part of her muscleman chorus in her nightclub act. He was a selfless, gentle man who catered after her needs. She was so concerned about her image of not belonging to any one man, that she only acknowledged her love for him toward the end of her life. Before Novak, the most important man in her life was her mother’s attorney, James Timony, who was her lover briefly and then her longtime manager until his death in 1954. Her secret marriage to Frank Wallace on 11 April 1911 was the only serious mistake in her love life. The conjugal relationship didn’t last long, but she didn’t legally divorce him until 40 years later amid much unwanted publicity.

West had a large beach house in Santa Monica, California that was decorated like her apartment. She frequently held ESP demonstrations with her favorite psychic, Richard Ireland, which attracted a wide array of people. She was a kind person, signing all her own autographs, and as discreet in her countless acts of charity as she was in her love life.

West’s final years were spent as a recluse. Her secretary for the last ten years of her life, Tim Malachosky, and longtime fan Dolly Dempsey helped Novak nurse her when she fell ill. She died on 22 November 1980, after a series of strokes, in the sixth-floor apartment in the Ravenswood apartment building on Rossmore Avenue where she had lived for 48 years. It was the perfect final setting for her. Everything was a soft white; the fancy Louis XV furniture was accented in gold; the baby grand was decorated with a nude statue of West; above a couch hung a nude painting of her. "They must’ve painted that when I wasn’t looking," she quipped once. She remains, after death, as an icon of witty sexuality.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • associate relationship with Gold, Joe (born 10 March 1922)
  • (has as) protégé relationship with Russell, Craig (born 10 January 1948). Notes: He was also her secretary
  • role played of/by Andersen, Bridgette (born 11 July 1975). Notes: Played 7-year-old West in 1982 TV film "Mae West"


  • Relationship : Marriage 11 April 1911 (Brief marriage to Wallace)
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  • Work : Gain social status 22 September 1911 (Broadway debut)
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  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 26 April 1926 (Opened her play "Sex")
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  • Work : Gain social status 1932 (Film "Night After Night")
  • Death by Disease 22 November 1980 in Los Angeles (Complications from stroke, age 88)
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Source Notes

Mae West's 11 April 1911 marriage certificate stating her age as 18

Marianne Dunn quotes Paul Novak, West's companion for 20 years, in 1980. (Reference often given 1893).

In June 2005 Jim Gorham writes, "A check with the SSDI quickly revealed that the year of birth, according to them, is 1893 (as your source notes show, this year is sometimes quoted), not 1892. I didn't know if you are already aware of this. But also, the April 1910 New York census for the Brooklyn area involved (attached) indicates that she was 17 (and the eldest of 3 siblings) at the time the form was filled out by her parents (line 88 as Mary J West). This would would also put her year of birth at 1893." PT disagrees--on the census, age is given as of last birthday, putting her year of birth back to 1892. SSDI is most likely taken from death certificate with birth information not verified from official sources.

Jim Gorham subsequently wrote to the New York Records office for a copy of her birth certificate. However, the records office reported that there is no record of her birth under the name of Mary Jane West in Brooklyn in 1892-1893. PT posits that she may have been born at home with no record made or that she may have been born in a different county or place or that we may have the birth name wrong.

Sy Scholfield quotes from Becoming Mae West by Emily Wortis Leider (Thorndike Press, 2001), page 20: "Two years later, delivered by an aunt who was a midwife, along came blue-bonnet-eyed Mae: 'I was born on August 17 [1893] at 10:30 p.m. on a cool night of a hot month, so I can expect anything,' she would report. Unlike her siblings', Mae's birth went unrecorded. She lacked a birth certificate, but 1893, a year in which the euphoria of the World's Fair was undermined by economic panic, depression, and massive unemployment, was the one she eventually acknowledged as her first. Leo, her astrological sign, marked her, she came to believe, as a lioness and a fighter — qualities the adult Mae would prize and endow with high significance, as she would also weight the determining energy of her rising planet, Venus."

On page 354 Leider gives the source for West's 'I was born ..." statement as Paramount Press Book for Belle of the Nineties, at the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverly Hills.

Scholfield notes same info in She Always Knew How: Mae West, A Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler (Simon and Schuster, 2012): "Born under the sign of Leo, with her rising planet being Venus, she believed her destiny was determined." Possibly 'ruling planet' is meant here, as this data would give a Taurus ascendant with Venus as ruler.

Indeed, Scholfield found same info from West (but not year of birth) and quoting actor/astrologer Stuart Holmes ("Your ruling planet is Venus") in the Australian Women's Weekly 26 January 1935, page 22 [1].

Regarding the 1935 Women's Weekly article, Frank Clifford writes by email: "It appears the astrologer (Holmes) was given 1892 as he refers to two astrological aspects that seem to confirm that year rather than 1893. He mentions the “impulses to care for people” and that Mae would’ve made a splendid nurse (1892 has Moon and Venus in Cancer; 1893 has Moon–Uranus in Scorpio and Venus in Virgo) and that in four years Mae West would marry because of an aspect from Venus (1892: progressed Venus is conjunct the Sun in 1939; 1893: no progressed activity to/from Venus). He also said her career would reach a peak in four years too (perhaps TR Jupiter through her 10th, applicable to both years)."

In January 2022 Scholfield found a photo of West's 1911 marriage certificate published in the Los Angeles Times, 8 July 1937, page 2. She was married on 11 April 1911 in Milwaukee and her age is given on the document as "18" and birth place as "Brooklyn, NY." This puts her birth year as 1892. (Of course she might have lied about her age!).


  • Traits : Mind : Education limited (Quit school before she was ten)
  • Traits : Personality : Humorous, Witty (Wrote own material)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Stroke (Series of strokes)
  • Family : Childhood : Order of birth (First of three kids)
  • Family : Relationship : Cohabitation more than 3 yrs (Paul Novak companion for 27 years)
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage less than 3 Yrs (Short term but did not divorce for 40 years)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Divorces (One)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (One)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids none
  • Passions : Criminal Victim : Lawsuit sued (Won)
  • Personal : Death : Long life more than 80 yrs (Age 88)
  • Vocation : Beauty : Sex-symbol
  • Vocation : Business : Top executive (CEO)
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Actor/ Actress (Stage and film)
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Live Stage (Broadway)
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Night Club/ Vaudeville
  • Vocation : Sex Business : Exotic Dancers (Burlesque)
  • Vocation : Writers : Autobiographer
  • Vocation : Writers : Playwright/ script
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession
  • Notable : Book Collection : Profiles Of Women