Mae West

Mae West (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 12) by Karina Longworth


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Today we begin part two of our season, Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon. Mae West was the biggest new star in Hollywood in 1933, thanks to two hit films she co-wrote and starred in as a sexually implicit, wisecracking broad who romanced a young Cary Grant. In Hollywood Babylon, Anger credits West’s abrupt decline in movies to a coordinated conspiracy organized by William Randolph Hearst and carried out by the Hays Office. Today we’ll explore West’s background, her history of pushing the censors past the limits of legality, and the truth of her lightning-fast rise in Hollywood and somewhat slower descent back to earth. Featuring special guest Natasha Lyonne!



Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger

Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It by Mae West

Becoming Mae West by Emily Wortis Leider

She Always Knew How: Mae West, a Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler

Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration by Thomas Doherty

The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship, and the Production Code by Leonard J. Leff


The music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, was sourced from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. The outro song this week is “I’m No Angel” by Mae West.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

One Two Three 4 - Peter Sandberg

One Two Three 5 - Peter Sandberg

My Simple Thing 2 - Peter Sandberg

Up We Go 4 - Peter Sandberg

Yellow Leaves 5 - Peter Sandberg

Eventually Maybe - Oakwood Station

Say It Is So - Magnus Ringblom Quartet

In The Lounge 02 - Lars Olvmyr

In The Lounge 05 - Lars Olvmyr

City Fashion 3 - Björn Skogsberg

Tomorrow I'll Be Gone - Franz Gordon

Corny Local Restaurants 2 - Magnus Ringblom

Goofy Moments 3 - Magnus Ringblom

Sophisticated Gentlemen 2 - Magnus Ringblom

Bachelor On The Move 4 - Martin Landh

Thieves Adventures 21 - Magnus Ringblom

Club Noir 2 - John Åhlin

Mae West and Grant in  I'm No Angel  (1933)

Mae West and Grant in I'm No Angel (1933)


This episode was written, narrated and produced by Karina Longworth.

Editor: Cameron Drews.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

Mae West, shot by Diane Arbus, c. 1965

Mae West, shot by Diane Arbus, c. 1965