Becoming Mae West Title

-- Reviews --

"A wide-ranging biography and social history examining the years in which Mae West the woman became Mae West the theater and movie star and cultural icon . . . This period in West's life remains little understood, and Leider brings vividly to life the young entertainer, as well as the entertainment world in which she moved . . . Lively, incisive reading. A vibrant story of a star's life and times-- not just for the movie buffs."

-- Kirkus Reviews

"Exhaustive research, fine writing and a keen appreciation of Mae West's own bawdy wit inform this energetic and erudite biography of the flamboyant vaudeville, theater and film star. Brooklyn-born West (1893-1980) made her own way in show business at a very early age, taking charge of her career, taking whomever she wanted into her bed (she never spent the night in someone else's if she could avoid it) and, through sheer willpower, working her way up to become a film star and sex symbol in her 40s. Her career, which all but ended after various scandals and the release of My Little Chickadee in 1940, is chronicled with an acute eye for detail. Leider has written a first-rate biography as well as a social and cultural history that vividly evokes the alternatively lubricious and censorious world of the popular New York stage. But West is always at the center of the narrative, making her own decisions, writing her own plays and novels, insisting at every point on having what is now called "creative control." The author's portrait is an affectionate one, though no whitewash: West often hired gay men, but disapproved of lesbians; she went to jail briefly for public indecency, after the authorities shut down her play Sex; and she often took credit for the work of others. But Leider makes a convincing case for West as a feminist forerunner of such sexually and professionally independent performers as Roseanne and Madonna, etching her persona indelibly across the American consciousness."

-- Publisher's Weekly

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