Later Stage Work
The increasing interference from the censors and the poor quality of her 1944 picture, “The Heat's On”, convinced Mae that she could no longer entertain her fans in the way she would wish using the film medium.  She therefore turned her sights back to the theatre.
Aside from her numerous and highly successful revivals of "Diamond Lil" (which were so notable that we've devoted two pages to them) Mae also enjoyed theatrical success in several other plays on Broadway and on tour within the United States.
On 2 August 1944, Mae opened at the Shubert Theatre, Broadway, in her self-penned musical comedy play based on the life and loves of Catherine the Great of Russia, "Catherine Was Great" ( there was a pre-Broadway run at the Forest Theatre in Philadelphia) .  The play was produced by Michael Todd and ran for 191 performances.  "This was a lavish production which although it ran for 7 months and was a definite popular success, it did not recoup its investment.  Following the Broadway run, Mae toured it successfully to Baltimore, Boston and Washington DC . Whilst in the capital she gave a special performance for wounded soldiers."
During 1946 and 7 Mae toured off and on in the play "Come On Up, Ring Twice", opening in May 46 in Long Beach and closing in February 47 in Los Angeles. She didn't write this one but rather she adapted it and spiced up the dialogue to suit her star persona.  She played a secret agent in this romp and liked it so much she revived the play on several occasions well into the 50s".
Following her hugely successful 5 year stint on tour with her nightclub act, Mae returned to the theatre in 1960 in her final stage play, "Sextette", at the Edgewater Beach Playhouse in Chicago and toured thereafter to Detroit, Warren and Columbus (both Ohio) and ending up at the Cocoanut Playhouse in Miami Beach, Florida .  Mae took the writing credits for this romantic comedy which centred on the comings and goings that conspired to prevent the consummation of Mae's character's 6th marriage when all 5 of the former husbands show up!  The play was eventually to be filmed in 1976 and this would also close the final chapter of her film career.
photo courtesy of the Tim Malachosky Collection