Since your newspaper has been serving Queens since 1919, I hope you will correct the factual errors in your recent article “Sex symbol Mae West spent her childhood in Woodhaven” by The Greater Astoria Historical Society.
The society wrote, “Mary Jane West was born Aug. 17, 1893. Although sources debate where exactly she was born, she spent her early years in various neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Woodhaven.”
There is no debate. West was born in Brooklyn on Bushwick Avenue. This information about her birthplace appears in well-regarded biographies of the iconic performer written by Emily Wortis Leider, Jill Watts and Simon Louvish as well as in West’s own memoir, “Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It.”
In my forthcoming book, “Mae West’s New York, 1890-1970,” I give the exact address.
Moreover, West did not spend her early years in Woodhaven. By the time her family moved there, Mae was an adult — close to 30 — and had been featured in Broadway shows.
Furthermore, West never set foot in Neir’s Tavern, at 87-48 78th St. in Woodhaven, an all-male bastion in those days — i.e., the Prohibition era and earlier. It was a hangout for sweaty factory workers and laborers, a dive bar that had no family entrance and only one restroom banked with urinals.
Kindly correct this information so your readers will have a better perspective on the history of Queens. The society ought to read at least one biography before submitting misinformation, especially about an entertainer whose memoir clearly states her birthplace.