MAE WEST,TIRA AND BEULAH

image MAE WEST said 5 words in I’M NO ANGEL and they became legendary.
“BEULAH, PEEL ME A GRAPE” is surely one of the best one-liners ever. Here’s how it comes about .

The one and only Mae plays TIRA, the Lion Tamer! She moves up town and is seen in her swanky apartment being pampered by her 4 maids who seem to be more her confidantes than servants. (That in itself is a great tribute to Mae who wrote the script).
Hattie McDaniel, in an uncredited role,is manicuring Mae’s nails and says “I was under the impression you were a one man woman.” Mae’s riposte is “One man at a time!”image
They are all laughing and Mae is singing, “I found a new way to go to Town”. She changes into a sparkling evening gown.
The happy scene is interrupted by the appearance of Gertrude Michael as the haughty Miss Hatton. TIRA had been seeing her boyfriend, Kent Taylor.
Gertrude is very rude and ends up saying, “You haven’t a scrap of decency.” Mae is offended but won’t let the other woman see her annoyance.She answers, “I don’t show my good points to strangers and I’ll trouble you to scram.”

Gertrude adds insult to injury by asking TIRA how much money it will take to have her leave Kent Taylor alone.
TIRA doesn’t even answer,just gives Gertrude a push into the hallway and slams the door.
As she sashays back into the room and regains her composure, out comes the classic words.
“Beulah”
“Yes,ma’am ”
“PEEL ME A GRAPE!”

Of course, TIRA doesn’t want Beulah to literally peel a grape. She’s letting off steam. She’s been hurt, is angry and wants to clear the air of the snobbish woman who looks down on her.
The line allows her to renew her supremacy and total self confidence. It negates the angry confrontation she has just been through.

Maybe it’s just legend that Mae came up with the line after her pet monkey would scrape the skin off a grape before eating it.

Beulah is played by Gertrude Howard . IMDB records that Gertrude died two years later.
It took Hattie McDaniel another 4 years before she began to be credited in cast lists. SHOW BOAT and GONE WITH THE WIND were still to come.

Another of the maids was played by Libby Taylor who continued in uncredited parts for 20 years.
I don’t know who played the fourth maid.

image

As Mae sang, “I’M NO ANGEL – BELIEVE ME!”

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