American actress Mary «Mae» West (Mae West, 1893-1980) became a real cinema legend during her lifetime. With spectacular appearance and extraordinary sense of humor, she found her way to the heights of popularity with the help of scandalous behavior at a time when the morals and manners of society were quite «vegetarian», and the most provocative act in a movie was a long close-up kiss shot.
Mae West first appeared on the stage when she was very young, and by the age of 33 she staged her first original play on Broadway under the uncomplicated title «Sex» (albeit under the pseudonym Jane Mast). The public reaction was in line with expectations: the hype in the press, negative reviews from critics, full halls and, as the pinnacle of this mess, a $ 5,500 fine, a 10-day arrest for threatening the moral principles of society and the closure of the performance.
But the deed was done — from April 1926 to February 1927 «Sex» has been played 375 times, and its author has achieved the desired popularity. The next chapter was Hollywood and films based on original scripts, raising the problems of prostitution, sexual minorities, etc. – scandalous actress and screenwriter West remained popular for a long time after her natural beauty had already faded.
There are many witty quotes attributed to Mae West. The life credo of the actress who has lived a long life, can perhaps be expressed by her own statements:
“I wrote the story myself. It's about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it.”
“Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”
The reader may ask — what does May's eventful life have to do with military history? Quite a lot is the answer! When in 1935 tank units of the US Army received two-turret modifications of the M2 light tank, created in accordance with the latest military trends, army humorists immediately gave them the nickname «Mae West», comparing the new machines with the curvaceous forms of the actress. In total, about 300 two-turret M2A2 and M2A3 were built, which, however, did not have a chance to play a large role in the battles — they were replaced by the more successful light tank M3.
But there was yet another «coming of May West into the army», this time on a larger scale. In 1942, an aging May learned that RAF pilots named their yellow inflatable life vests after her name, partly because of the way they bulged on the chest, partly because of the very consonance of her name with both the English word «vest» and international voice distress signal “Mayday”.
The actress, who knew perfectly well that any PR is still PR, wrote a letter to the “boys” in response, in which she said that she considered it an honor to fly everywhere with brave men, gently wrapping her arms around their shoulders, and to save their lives. By the end of World War II, the name of the actress was already used to call all life vests in the aviation and navy of the United States and Great Britain. This term is still alive today.