MAE WEST, HOWARD MERLING and BERT MERLING This handwritten document is a contract between the actress and her collaborator, agreeing to pay him 22½% of the proceeds from the play “The Constant Sinner” based on her book Babe Gordon

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MAE WEST, HOWARD MERLING and BERT MERLING This handwritten document is a contract between the actress and her collaborator, agreeing to pay him 22½% of the proceeds from the play “The Constant Sinner” based on her book Babe Gordon. Howard Merling was a key insight to the world of pimps, prostitutes, drug use and night clubs in 1930's Harlem. An extraordinary document! Autograph Document Multi-signed: “Mae West”, “Howard Merling” and “Bert Merling” in black ink. And initialed twice at top left corners “M.W.” and “H.M.” 11x7. Two pages. Place: New York, N.Y. Dated: June 19, 1931. In Full:In consideration of the work already done by you I hereby agree to pay over to you when received twenty two and one half (22½) per cent of any and all sums received from said play Babe Gordon as royalties, bonuses, for advances, directly or indirectly or each and every representation thereof, for regular production and tour, it being understood that said twenty two and one half per cent (22½) shall be twenty two and a half (22½)  per cent of the gross amount of said royalties, bonuses and advances without any deductions whatsoever. I further agree to pay over to you twelve (12) per cent of the gross amount received for the sale or other disposition of the motion picture rights foreign and stock rights of said novel or any dramatization thereof. It is also understood that you will not be required to do any work in connection with the dramatization of said book and that the said percentages referred to are in addition to the royalties you are to receive on the novel itself in accordance with our previous agreement. Except as herein modified the said original agreement shall remain in full force and effect as to all of its terms, covenents [sic] and conditions. This will confirm our agreement and understanding with reference to the dramatic and motion picture rights in the book Babe Gordon.” The vivacious, risqué MAE WEST (1892-1980) had such success portraying “Diamond Lil” in the play's first production at New York's Royale Theatre that she became the acknowledged queen of camp with her sexual innuendoes and double entendres. Her nearly single-handed sexual revolution took Hollywood by surprise in the early 1930s, when West starred in such films as Night After Night (1932) and She Done Him Wrong (1933), the film version of Diamond Lil, in which she uttered her famous line, "Come up and see me sometime" (to co-star Cary Grant). Although she made only 12 films, most of them have become classic comedy hits, including Klondike Annie (1936) and My Little Chickadee (1940), which co-starred the inimitable W.C. Fields. The talented lady from Brooklyn also directed some of her plays, such as Drag (1927), and wrote most of her own nightclub material and scripts. HOWARD MERLING was a Broadway producer and collaborator of Mae West's. He and his brother, BERT MERLING, worked with West, giving her detailed insights on the Harlem nightlife, an area where white people were rarely seen during their time. Howard Merling wrote and directed the play “Killers” as well as his collaborative efforts with the actress. Lightly toned. Corners rounded and creased. Normal mailing folds. Surface tears where two sheets were adhered together. Otherwise, fine condition.

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