Dirty Blonde Historical Context

Claudia Shear
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Mae West was born on August 17, 1893, in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a prizefighter and her mother a former fashion model (for corsets). Her mother had a major influence on Mae's career, taking her as a child to the theater, encouraging her to practice, and supporting her emerging ambitions in every way she could. Mae West first performed in vaudeville at the age of about eight. She also spent much of her childhood closely observing the great vaudeville acts, including the biggest star of the day, Eva Tanguay, and the many female impersonators. West learned from vaudeville how to develop her own stage and later screen personality, complete with suggestive lyrics and double meanings and glamorous, often outrageous costumes.

Known throughout her life for her sexual bravado, West had her first lover at the age of thirteen, when she willingly allowed her twenty-one-year-old...

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This section contains 1,049 words
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Buy the Dirty Blonde Study Guide
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