Fragment #27: Mae West & Charlie McCarthy Redux

Last year, I posted a fragment (#4) featuring transcribed dialogue from a saucy exchange between Mae West and Charlie McCarthy. Now, thanks to my current penchant for messing about with iMovie’s editing software, I can give you the audio of their talk with some accompanying photographs, my first attempt at this kind of thing. This is a supplement to the short Bergen and McCarthy film, Nut Guilty, that I posted yesterday. Here’s the explanatory text from my earlier post:

On 12 December 1937, Mae West appeared on the Chase and Sanborn Hour with ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his monocled knee-pal (dummy), Charlie McCarthy. [You can hear the whole broadcast here.] Stars of stage and screen and airwaves, Bergen and McCarthy had a huge following, and West was keen to promote her latest film, Every Day’s a Holiday. She appeared in two sketches, including “The Garden of Eden” with Don Ameche, and a flirtatious banter with McCarthy. The announcer introduces the meeting as “the romantic battle of the century”, a contest of seduction which the dummy might just prove strong enough to resist. There follows a blistering back-and-forth, during which West describes Charlie as “all wood and a yard long”. This was too much for many listeners (though the studio audience found it hilarious), especially on a Sunday, and the Federal Communications Commission deemed it indecent. NBC banned West (you couldn’t even mention her name) from all their radio stations. She didn’t appear on radio until January 1950.

One thought on “Fragment #27: Mae West & Charlie McCarthy Redux

  1. Pingback: Spectacular Attractions Video Podcast #004: Speaking for Ventriloquism | Spectacular Attractions

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