Monday, November 22, 2010
Actress Mae West Dies at the Ravenswood Apartments 1980
Mae West (August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980) was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol.
Known for her bawdy double entendres, West made a name for herself in Vaudeville and on the stage in New York before moving to Hollywood to become a comedienne, actress and writer in the motion picture industry. One of the more controversial movie stars of her day, West encountered many problems including censorship.
When her cinematic career ended, she continued to perform on stage, in Las Vegas, in the United Kingdom, on radio and television, and recorded rock and roll albums.
Mae West remained close to her family throughout her life and was devastated by her mother's death in 1930. In that year, she moved to Hollywood and into the penthouse at the historic Ravenswood apartment building (where she would live until her death in 1980).
In August 1980, West tripped while getting out of bed. After the fall, West was unable to speak and was taken to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles where tests revealed that she had suffered a stroke. She remained in the hospital where, seven days later, she had a diabetic reaction to the formula in her feeding tube. On September 18, she suffered a second stroke which left her right side paralyzed and developed pneumonia. By November, West's condition had improved, but the prognosis was not good and she was sent home.
She died there on November 22, 1980, at age 87.
A private service was held in the Old North Church replica, in Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, on November 25, 1980. Bishop Andre Penachio, who was also a friend, officiated at the entombment in the family room at Cypress Hills Abbey, Brooklyn, purchased in 1930 when her mother died. Her father and brother were also entombed there before her, and her younger sister was laid to rest in the last of the five crypts within 18 months after West's death.
For her contribution to the film industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street in Hollywood.