You Must Remember This

Re-examining Mae West’s War With the Censors

Her conflicts with the Catholic Church and other groups were an obstacle, but was a censorship conspiracy the cause of her decline?

Mae West was the biggest new star in Hollywood in 1933, thanks to two hit films she co-wrote and starred in as a sexually implicit, wisecracking broad who romanced a young Cary Grant. In the book Hollywood Babylon, filmmaker Kenneth Anger credits West’s abrupt decline in movies to a coordinated conspiracy organized by William Randolph Hearst and carried out by the Hays Office. Today we’ll explore West’s background, her history of pushing the censors past the limits of legality, and the truth of her lightning-fast rise in Hollywood and somewhat slower descent back to earth.

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Podcast production by Cameron Drews.