Entry in progress—B.P.
Wikipedia: Mae West
Mary Jane “Mae” West (August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980) was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades. She was known for her lighthearted, bawdy double entendres and breezy sexual independence. She was active in vaudeville and on the stage in New York City before moving to Hollywood to become a comedian, actress, and writer in the motion picture industry, as well as appearing on radio and television. The American Film Institute named her 15th among the greatest female stars of classic American cinema.
In popular culture
During World War II, Allied aircrews called their yellow inflatable, vest-like life preserver jackets “Mae Wests” partly from rhyming slang for “breasts” and “life vests” and partly because of the resemblance to her torso. A “Mae West” is also a type of round parachute malfunction (partial inversion) which contorts the shape of the canopy into the appearance of an extraordinarily large brassiere.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Mae West, n.
Origin: From a proper name. Etymon: proper name Mae West.
Mae West, the name of a U.S. film actress and entertainer (1892–1980), noted for her large bust: see quot. 1941.
slang (orig. R.A.F.).
An inflatable life jacket, originally one issued to R.A.F. servicemen in the Second World War (1939–45).
1940 Listener 11 Jan. 56/2 A live-saving waistcoat..can be inflated in a few moments by the wearer, and for some obscure reason is known technically as a ‘Mae West’.
1941 N.Y. Times Mag. 27 July 21/2 One can understand..why an airman’s life-belt should be a ‘Mae-West’. It..gives the wearer a somewhat feminine figure.
1942 R.A.F. Jrnl. 16 May 33 A second more determined pull opened it [sc. the parachute] at about 400–500 feet. The pilot did not inflate his Mae West.
1945 Daily Mirror 15 Aug. 3/3 McGarvey discarded his Mae West and swam to the vessel.
New York City • Music/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Tuesday, July 30, 2019 • Permalink