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Mae Busch

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Also Known As: Annie May Busch Died: April 19, 1946
Born: June 18, 1891 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Australia Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Following in the footsteps of the late Charles Ludlum, founder of New York's Ridiculous Theatre Company, which honed camp and cross-dressing into a comic art in the 1960s and 70s, self-described "gender illusionist" Charles Busch drew inspiration from movie and stage divas of yore and created complex female characterizations, not just a cabaret drag persona, to place at the center of his trashy spectacles. In 1984, he formed Theatre-in-Limbo with a group of friends and began performing his wonderfully-titled plays like "Theodora, She-Bitch of Byzantium" and "Kiss the Blood Off My Castanets" at NYC's Limbo Lounge. "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom" became such a hit there that it moved in 1985 to the historic Provincetown Playhouse, where it played for five years, becoming one of the longest-running non-musicals in Off-Broadway history. A 2000-year-old lesbian in that one, he also scored as Chicklet, a teenager with a multiple personality disorder, in "Psycho Beach Party" (1987), which he would retool for his first screenwriting credit in 2000.Busch's adaptation of Guy Bolton and Eddie Davis' book for a new production of the 1955 musical "Ankles Aweigh" at the Goodspeed Opera House in 1988 was the first...

Following in the footsteps of the late Charles Ludlum, founder of New York's Ridiculous Theatre Company, which honed camp and cross-dressing into a comic art in the 1960s and 70s, self-described "gender illusionist" Charles Busch drew inspiration from movie and stage divas of yore and created complex female characterizations, not just a cabaret drag persona, to place at the center of his trashy spectacles. In 1984, he formed Theatre-in-Limbo with a group of friends and began performing his wonderfully-titled plays like "Theodora, She-Bitch of Byzantium" and "Kiss the Blood Off My Castanets" at NYC's Limbo Lounge. "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom" became such a hit there that it moved in 1985 to the historic Provincetown Playhouse, where it played for five years, becoming one of the longest-running non-musicals in Off-Broadway history. A 2000-year-old lesbian in that one, he also scored as Chicklet, a teenager with a multiple personality disorder, in "Psycho Beach Party" (1987), which he would retool for his first screenwriting credit in 2000.

Busch's adaptation of Guy Bolton and Eddie Davis' book for a new production of the 1955 musical "Ankles Aweigh" at the Goodspeed Opera House in 1988 was the first thing he had written but not performed in. He was, however, onstage that year fully quaffed in red Rita Hayworth hair and gowned a la Norma Shearer in his latest celebration of Hollywood kitsch, "The Lady in Question," a well-paced parody of MGM's wartime potboilers of the 40s. He began diversifying his talents after his subversively hilarious 1991 play, "Red Scare on Sunset," in which he portrayed a well-meaning Pollyanna of a Hollywood star who names names at the McCarthy hearings of the 50s. Following his appearance as Countess Aphasia du Barry in "Addams Family Values" (1993), Busch uncharacteristically took a man's role in Andrew Bergman's feature "It Could Happen to You" (1994). Further surprising his following, he not only essayed a gay man in "You Should Be So Lucky" (1995) but also injected Jewish humor, as well as gay humor, into the play.

Busch continued expanding artistically, co-authoring and appearing in the Off-Broadway musical "Swingtime Canteen" (1996) and collaborating with composer-lyricist Rusty McGee on the Off-Broadway musical "The Green Heart" (1997), in which he did not act. Having performed one-man shows in the 70s ("Charles Busch Alone with a Cast of Thousands," "Hollywood Confidential"), he once again soloed in "Flipping My Wig" (subtitled "An Evening with Charles Busch) and played the resident, fortune-telling drag queen in the feature "Trouble on the Corner" (both 1997). The busy year also saw him conceive "Queen Amarantha" as part homage to his lifelong idol Sarah Bernhardt and part spoof of Garbo movies. Rejecting his usual camp style, he successfully addressed a serious subject ending in tragedy while portraying a drag actor playing a gender-confused woman who dresses as a man. The sustained sleight of hand recalled the moment in "The Lady in Question" when Gertrude appeared in Dietrichesque blazer and pants ready to go riding.

Busch scripted his most accessible play yet, "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife" (2000), for Linda Lavin to star as an anguished middle-aged Jewish wife and mother whose spirits temporarily lift when the glamorous Michele Lee, a past acquaintance, materializes on her doorstep. The show's move to Broadway marked Busch's debut on the Great White Way, and though he was not performing any of the parts, one can only imagine him substituting for either Lavin or Lee and giving such a nuanced and believable performance that the audience would soon forget they were watching a man play a woman. Too old to reprise the starring role of Chicklet in the film version of "Psycho Beach Party," Busch contented himself with the adult femme roles of Captain Monica Stark and Mrs. Forrest. For the small screen, he has enjoyed a recurring part (since 1999) as the inmate who suffocated Italian mob boss Antonio Nappa on HBO's "Oz," and he also published a novel, "Whores of Lost Atlantis," inspired by his early days in NYC's East Village.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Ladies' Man (1947) Woman in automat
2.
 Cross My Heart (1947) Juror
3.
 Masquerade in Mexico (1946) Guest
4.
5.
 The Blue Dahlia (1946) Jenny, the maid
6.
 The Stork Club (1945) Vera
7.
 The Mad Monster (1942) Susan
8.
 Fangs of the Wild (1942) Mae Barton
9.
 Hello Annapolis (1942) Miss Jenkins
10.
 Ziegfeld Girl (1941) Jenny
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Notes

Her ashes were left unclaimed until the 1970s, when members of the Way Out West Tent paid to have her finally laid to rest.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Francis McDonald. Actor. Divorced.
husband:
John E Castle. Divorced.
husband:
Thomas C Tate.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Frederick William Busch. Vaudevillian.
mother:
Elizabeth Maria Lay. Singer, vaudevillian.

Contributions

Richard Horler ( 2007-05-08 )

Source: Book

Enter Your Contribution Here Mae Busch was born on 18th June 1891 in Melbourne, Australia. Her first film was OVER THE RIVER with Eddie Foy in 1915. She rose to prominence in Erich Von Stroheims FOOLISH WIVES (1921). After arguments with studio bosses over pay and a nervous breakdown, Mae's career sadly took a dive. Throughout the 30's she made several Laurel and Hardy films as well as parts in CHEATING BLONDES (1933), STRANDED (1935), DAUGHTER OF SHANGHAI (1938), WOMEN WITHOUT NAMES (1940) and ZIEGFELD GIRL (1941). Her final film was LADIES MAN released in 1947. Mae died at 2.20am of the morning of 19th April 1946 at the MOTION PICTURE COUNTRY HOME AND HOSPITAL of Cancer.

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