Mae West was born in Queens, New York, to "Battling Jack" West and Matilda Doelger. She began her career as a child star in vaudeville, and later went on to write her own plays, including "SEX", for which she was arrested. Though her first movie role was a small part in Night After Night (1932), her scene has become famous. A coat check girl exclaims, "Goodness! What lovely diamonds!", after seeing Mae's jewelry. Mae replies, "Goodness had nothing to do with it". Her next film, in which she starred, came the following year. She Done Him Wrong (1933) was based on her earlier and very popular play, "Diamond Lil". She went on to write and star in seven more films, including My Little Chickadee (1940) with W.C. Fields. Her last movie was Sextette (1977), which also came from a play. She died two years later.
During her long life she had much to say and shared it with her usual panache.
“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”
“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.”
“Sex is emotion in motion.”
“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”
“Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.”
“It isn't what I do, but how I do it. It isn't what I say, but how I say it, and how I look when I do it and say it.”
“Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”
“All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.”
“Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.”
And probably the most famous quote of all:
“When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better.”