“Is that gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” Did Mae West really say this line? Learn about this legendary screen star and her famous wit.
Mae West, born Mary Jane West in 1893, was a vaudeville and Broadway sensation known for her stage acts full of sexual innuendo. Movie audiences in the 1920s and 30s came to know and love her risque style, though censors dogged her throughout her career.
She starred with some of the top leading men of the day including Cary Grant and W.C. Fields. Her films showcased some of the most famous one-liners still heard today. Below are quotes that have been attributed to Miss West or one of the characters she portrayed on the silver screen.
Mae West and Men
Sex and men were the topics that made her famous. They also sent her to jail for 6 days when she was charged with obscenity and corrupting the morals of youth through her one of her plays. That didn’t stop her nor did it curtail her love of men as the quotes below show.
Sex is emotion in motion.
A man’s kiss is his signature.
A hard man is good to find.
To err is human, but it feels divine.
A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has fire, women will like him.
Don’t marry a man to reform him – that’s what reform schools are for.
Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring.
Give a man a free hand and he’ll run it all over you.
Don’t keep a man guessing too long – he’s sure to find the answer somewhere else.
I see you’re a man with ideals. I better be going before you’ve still got them.
He’s the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of.
I like a man who’s good, but not too good – for the good die young, and I hate a dead one.
Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what from.
A man in the house is worth two in the street.
A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars, that’s subtraction.
The best way to hold a man is in your arms.
“When I’m good I’m very good, but when I’m bad I’m better.”
“It’s not the men in my life that counts, it’s the life in my men.”
“So many men, so little time.”
“I like two kinds of men: Domestic and imported.”
Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I’m tired.
When women go wrong, men go right after them.
I only have ‘yes’ men around me. Who needs ‘no’ men?
Mae West quotes about love
Love thy neighbor – and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier.
All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.
A woman in love can’t be reasonable – or she probably wouldn’t be in love.
Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.
Love isn’t an emotion or an instinct – it’s an art.
I never loved another person the way I loved myself.
Look your best – who said love is blind?
More love quotes
Mae’s Most Famous Quotes
One of Miss West’s most well-known quips has been said in two different ways:
“Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”
“Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”
Today, the word glad is often replaced with the word happy. It’s unclear as to whether she said one of these lines in an interview before they became famous in films. The pistol line wasn’t actually uttered on the screen until much later by her character Marlo Manners in the 1978 film Sextette. It’s believed this was done due to the fact that the line had already been attributed to her for so many years.
This famous quote became the tagline for the film, I’m No Angel, starring West and Cary Grant.
“Come up and see me sometime – anytime.”
It was actually a combination of two quotes from an earlier film, She Done Him Wrong, starring the pair. West’s character Lady Lou actually says to Grant these two separate lines:
“Come up sometime, see me.”
“Come up again anytime.”
Can anyone blame a woman for saying this line in more than one way to the debonair Cary Grant?
Personality is the most important thing to an actress’s success.
Mae’s Inspiring Philosophy
Mae’s characters were nothing if not confident. They exuded self reliance from a woman who spoke her mind and lived on her own terms. The fact that she wrote the lines for most of her characters and made them her own shows that she portrayed them exactly how she wanted to. She also loved to twist common sayings and give them a sexual meaning. Her confidence and life philosophies are revealed in the quotes below:
“When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.”
“Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”
“To err is human but it feels divine.”
“He who hesitates is last.”
“Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.”
“It’s hard to be funny when you have to be clean.”
The last quote is in reference to the censorship she was constantly plagued by from movie studios. When she was a Broadway star, movie studio executives weren’t sure they wanted to take a gamble on a star with her personality.
A movie actor friend of Mae’s, George Raft, helped land her a small part in Night After Night. The studios couldn’t ignore her appeal and gave her starring roles from then on. Though she was often censored, she always went as far as she could with her characters. She may be from an era long past, but the endurance of her most famous lines into modern popular culture indicates that her inspiration lives on.