Mae West: She’s No Angel

“I never worry about diets,” quipped Mae West, the bawdy blonde beauty of 1930s cinema. “The only carrots that interest me are the number of carats in a diamond!” West had no shortage of them (evident in this 1936 photo). One of her favorite pieces was rumored to be a diamond pendant shaped like a champagne bottle—perhaps as a toast to her role in the 1928 play Diamond Lil, about a sexually liberated woman of the fin de siècle era. In 1954, at age 61, West performed in a Las Vegas revue, flanked by loinclothed bodybuilders including the 30-years-younger Charles Krauser (better known by his professional name, Paul Novak). “He fell in love with her,” says jeweler Neil Lane, a collector of West memorabilia. “They became lovers, inseparable. When she died, he put her jewels in the vault. He cherished them and never sold a thing.” It’s not the first time diamonds figured into a Hollywood love story. But it’s surely the sweetest.

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