I’ve shared this photo of Mae West with my great-grandmother Ida Mayer Cummings before, but I only today came across this newspaper article from September 13th, 1940 revealing that she made a $500 contribution to the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging in her mother’s memory. I had always assumed the photo of Mae and Ida was taken during one of my great-grandmother’s many gala star-studded events.
But no, in a pretty bold move, Ida refused to accept Mae West’s donation, a significant amount of money in 1940, unless she came to the Home and understood its mission firsthand. So to her remarkable credit, the actress – certainly a mega star by 1940 – took up that challenge a few weeks later.
Mae West enclosed her donation in a very special letter, which you can view here. Incredibly, it still resonates today and really provides a whole new, rather amazing, insight into her character. Here’s the accompanying post I wrote about the letter because its date is also rather eerie in terms of the world events occurring on that very day.