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Mae West

Icons of the Century

Without West, Hollywood would not have the model for an independent, smart, sexy bombshell. Without West, Hollywood would not have quips like “When I’m good, I’m very, very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.”

She personified the sexually liberated woman at a time when that could get you arrested — and she was, for her play “Sex.”

A child star on the vaudeville circuit, where she honed her wit and physical presence, she segued to the legit stage, where her “Diamond Lil” on Broadway brought Hollywood knocking: West became a celluloid smash.

She made only a handful of films, but they not only launched the career of Cary Grant, they gave us snappy double entendres and the Hays Code. “I believe in censorship,” she once said. “I made a fortune out of it.”

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