Why Did Mae West Flip Down a Role in a Film With Elvis Presley?

Mae West started out undertaking in vaudeville at the tender age of 14 and eventually turned a drive of mother nature in Hollywood. She rose to fame penning Broadway plays that enraged conservative critics and scandalized several audiences. Afterwards, as an actor, director, producer, and investor, she created a variety of roles for herself as a intercourse symbol, comedic con artist, and confident femme fatale.

But when known as upon to act in the 1964 movie Roustabout together with Elvis Presley, West turned the job down. According to Presley’s previous bodyguard, Sonny West, here’s why she was so opposed to performing with the King.

Mae West | Irving Lippman/John Kobal Basis/Getty Photos

Mae West made a name for herself actively playing controversial roles

West launched her job in vaudeville and burlesque in her teens, scandalizing and titillating audiences with her parodic normally takes on Victorian sensibilities, toddler vamp persona, and adore of the “shimmy.”

According to, the censure of religious and moralizing critics only served to raise her occupation. Right after West made and starred in the 1926 Broadway play Sexual intercourse, which she wrote herself, her arrest for “indecency” designed headlines and acquired her swarms of new followers. Her plays usually dealt with taboo and controversial topics, specifically individuals involving sexuality.

West did not nab her to start with film deal – with Paramount Shots, no much less – until finally the age of 38. Her age did not prevent her from taking part in a host of pretty starlets and swindling seductresses in films like I’m No Angel and She Performed Him Mistaken.

She was hounded by customers of the Hays Code organization, who typically censored her movies to make them fewer explicit. The daring performer simply responded by infusing her motion pictures with double-entendre one particular-liners and sexual innuendo she became a learn in the art of suggestion.

Film poster for 'Roustabout' with Elvis Presley
Film poster for ‘Roustabout’ with Elvis Presley | GAB Archive/Redferns

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She was requested to take on a supporting job together with Elvis Presley in ‘Roustabout’

West was identified for maintaining a higher diploma of resourceful management more than her roles. She did not give in to pushback conveniently. She also regarded as her very carefully crafted persona to be an vital aspect of her art.

Which is why it’s not too shocking that, at the age of 69, West turned down what numerous would have deemed to be an outstanding opportunity to star in a film with the King of Rock and Roll.

In accordance to Presley’s longtime bodyguard, Memphis Mafia member Sonny West, West refused to get on the component of carnival operator Maggie Morgan in the 1964 movie musical Roustabout. Presley played Charlie Rogers, a down-on-his-luck musician who began doing the job as a “carnie” at a battling traveling carnival to make finishes meet.

In his 2007 memoir, Elvis: Nevertheless Getting Care of Small business, Elvis’ bodyguard claimed that West patently refused to take on the function of Maggie for the reason that she did not want to be witnessed as a maternal determine.

“In the primary screenplay, Maggie was to be Elvis’s mother,” Sonny wrote. “That was all West essential to hear. ‘I ain’t hardly ever played moms in my daily life, and I’m surely not likely to now,’ she reportedly claimed.”

Elvis Presley and Barbara Stanwyck
Elvis Presley and Barbara Stanwyck | Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Photos

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West turned down the part when she identified out she would be playing Elvis Presley’s mother

In the end, the function West turned down was taken on by Barbara Stanwyck in its place.

Stanwyck started out out as a Ziegfeld chorus female on Broadway right before becoming the greatest-paid out actress in Hollywood at just one position, starring in comedies like Ball of Fireplace and The Girl Eve and film noir classics like Double Indemnity and Sorry, Wrong Range. The position of Maggie was shifted to develop into far more of a nurturing maternal determine rather than Elvis’s genuine mom.  

This was not the only major position West turned down alongside a massive star. In point, according to The Village Voice, she on a regular basis turned down roles that would have required her to enjoy a matriarch, widow, or “has-been. She also wasn’t fond of sections that emphasized the character’s standing as a senior citizen.

She was initially made available the role of Vera Prentice-Simpson in Pal Joey with Marlon Brando the part finally went to Rita Hayworth. West also refused the function of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard for comparable good reasons. Gloria Swanson won the Golden Globe for Most effective Actress for the memorable section.

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