It Ain't No Sin
By Simon Louvish
(Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9780312348786, 512pp.)
Publication Date: November 14, 2006
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Sex goddess, Hollywood star, transgressive playwright, author, blues singer, and vaudeville brat---Mae West remains the twentieth century's greatest comedienne. She made an everlasting mark in trailblazing Broadway plays such as Sex and The Constant Sinner and in films such as She Done Him Wrong, Klondike Annie, and I'm No Angel.
Simon Louvish, biographer of W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and Keystone's Mack Sennett, brings Mae to vibrant life in this unparalleled new biography. He charts her amazing seven decades in show business, from early years in teenage summer stock to her last reincarnation as 1960s gay icon and grande dame of Hollywood survivors.
Mae West: It Ain't No Sin is the first biography to make use of Mae's recently uncovered personal papers, offering an unprecedented view into the endless creative drive and daring wit of this legendary star.
Simon Louvish has written eleven works of fiction and four previous movie biographies of Hollywood's star comedians: W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and Mack Sennett. He lives in London, is married, and holds forth occasionally at the London Film School.
Praise for Mae West
"Meticulously researched and finely crafted. Theatrical and cinematic history are skillfully related to the wider social and political background."
---The Independent (UK)
"This is the fifth of Louvish's scrupulously researched studies of celebrated comic figures. . . . As with its predecessors, the style is jaunty, and as all of its subjects are wreathed in myth, often of their own creation, he takes great pleasure in laying out and sifting the conflicting evidence on the page."
"If you appreciate a wealth of facts delivered in a straightforward, readable style . . . then Louvish's book will delight you."
---Scotland on Sunday
Praise for Stan and Ollie
"Louvish is at his best in discussing how Laurel and Hardy, unlike most of the great silent-film comedians, had no trouble making the transition to sound."
---The New York Times
"Louvish's wide-eyed love for his subjects' simple, forthright, and hardworking desire to please will bring down the house."
---Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Thanks to a lively, affectionate writer, we can glimpse the great clowns at work."
---Dallas Morning News
"Brims with affection and still preserves an honest, unbiased view of their creativity and personal traumas."
"This definitive treatment is recommended."
---Library Journal (starred)
Although at least four full-length biographies have been written about Mae West since her death at 87 in 1980, Louvish (Man on the Flying Trapeze) is the first biographer to have access to the recently opened archive of West memorabilia including a 2,000-page collection of quips and jokes and the numerous revisions of the 12 plays, eight screenplays and three novels she wrote. West created and perfected her languid sex goddess persona during years in vaudeville and by serving as her own playwright, but Louvish discovers West's secret life was filled not with lovers but long nights of polishing and refining her scripts. She was almost 40 when she made her first film, but two years later, she was the highest paid performer in the U.S. Louvish's bio is appreciative and extensively detailed, focusing on West as writer. It can sometimes feel plodding as he transcribes skits and routines (although most still sparkle seven decades later, like "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted"). Summing