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Michael Childers, American
Mae West, Twentieth Century Fox Studios, Hollywood, CA, set of Myra Breckenridge, 1969
Gelatin silver print on paper
20 x 16 in. (51 x 41 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Gelatin silver Process
Credit Line: Gift of Michael Childers
Accession Number: 2017.17.10

Legendary vaudeville seductress and movie star Mae West (1893–1980) returned to the screen in Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge after a twenty-seven-year-long absence. In a career spanning more than seven decades, Mae West crafted a bawdy, witty, sexually charged persona that captured the attention of audiences and censors alike. From the 1920s onwards, West was an early supporter of gay rights, even as she was limited by the ideas of sexuality of the times. In Myra Breckenridge, West played a supporting role in a play that focused on the titular character’s gender reassignment surgery and complicated relationships. Since discussing transgendered people was still relatively taboo, West once again faced censorship and critique for her work in the film.

References Mae West: An Icon in Black and White

Gillian Holzer SC 19

The work is signed on the front (lower right, border) and bears the title “Mae West,” location “Hollywood,” edition number 28/30, and year of creation “1969”on the back.

Object Description
Mae West stands in her dressing room on the set of the film. She wears a hat designed by Edith Head.

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