She Did It Right

“You only live once…
but if you do it right, once is enough.”
—Mae West

Mary Jane “Mae” West (1893–1980) was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades. She was known for her lighthearted bawdy double entendres and breezy sexual independence.

Photo: A publicity shot for West’s first film, Night After Night (1932). In her first scene a hat-check girl exclaims, “Goodness, what beautiful diamonds!” Ad libbing, West replied, “Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.” The film’s supposed star, George Raft, said of her performance, “She stole everything but the cameras.” By 1935, West was the highest-earning woman in America (and second-highest-earning American, after William Randolph Hearst).

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