Gay icon Bette Midler doesn’t make too many movies these days, but she’s stepping up to play the legendary Mae West in an HBO biopic, with The Exorcist’s William Friedkin directing, according to Deadline.
The movie is based on West’s autobiography Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It, with another gay legend, Harvey Fierstein, providing the script. As Deadline notes, the book, ‘chronicles West’s rise fto stardom when she takes New York by storm after writing and starring in her scandalous Broadway show Sex and battles authorities over obscenity charges. Instead of taking the road of a wide-eyed Hollywood ingenue, West forged her own path, writing and starring in her own risqué plays, including her breakthrough Sex, which had her prosecuted and sentenced to 10 days in prison for “corrupting the morals of youth.”
‘The notoriety fueled her career and didn’t stop her from tackling taboo subjects in her next plays, including 1928 hit Diamond Lil, about a racy 1890s woman, which opened the doors to Hollywood for her. West was a late arrival, signing her first movie deal with Paramount at 39, but went on to make a string of hits, becoming one of the highest-grossing stars of the 1930s while still finding ways to push the envelope and keeping studio censors busy.’
She’s a fascinating figure, who championed female sexuality at a time when it was considered absolutely shocking.
However while West was 39 when she went to Hollywood, Midler is already 68, so it’ll be interesting to see if Bette will be Mae in her younger days, or if she’ll just play her in her later years. There’s no doubt though that she’s got Mae’s in your face style and way with words.