Mae West

publicity photo of West for film Night After Night, 1932

Birth Name: Mary Jane West

Date of Birth: August 17, 1893

Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Death: November 22, 1980

Place of Death: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

*father – Irish, possibly English
*mother – German

Mae West was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, and comedian. She was known as a sex symbol.

Her father, John Patrick West, had Irish, and possibly English, ancestry. Her mother, Matilda “Tillie” (Delker/Doelger/Decker), was a German immigrant.

There is some speculation that Mae had African-American ancestry, on her father’s side, or Jewish ancestry, on her mother’s side. It is not clear if either of these lineages have been verified/documented. Mae’s maternal grandparents are buried in a Lutheran cemetery.

Mae’s paternal grandfather was named John Edwin West (the son of John West and Priscilla Arthur). Mae’s grandfather John was born in either New York or Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and may have had English ancestry.

Mae’s paternal grandmother was Mary Jane Copley (the daughter of Martin Copley and Julia Copple). Mary Jane was Irish.

Mae’s maternal grandfather was named Jakob/Jacob Delker (the son of Philip Delker and Christine). Jakob was German.

Mae’s maternal grandmother was named Christiana/Christina Brüning/Brimier. Christiana was German.

Sources: Louvish, Simon, 2006. Mae West: It Ain’t No Sin.

Family background of Mae West –

Genealogy of Mae West –

Mae West on the 1900 U.S. Census –
Mae West on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Death record of Mae’s maternal grandfather, Jakob/Jacob Delker –

Death record of Mae’s maternal grandmother, Christiana/Christina (Brüning/Brimier) Delker –


Curious about ethnicity

19 Responses

  1. apollo88 says:

    That’s a rumor, she doesn’t have african-american in her.

  2. sadie says:

    I put up a comment yesterday and you erased it why? I see so many comments on other sites with filthy and derogatory remarks and you keep them. This is mine on Mae West. First I always thought she was ugly, not a good actress and I had no idea she had black in her. BIG DEAL I don’t care. She didn’t do justice to that race

  3. Meg says:

    I have always suspected she may be a small part black (between 1/4 and 1/8). Probably on her fathers side since her mother was an emigrant straight from Bavaria. Her paternal grandma was Irish, so maybe her paternal grandpa was black/part black. I doubt we’ll ever know for sure. She was so awesome though!

  4. Say WHAT? says:

    When she went to Hollywood she was told that she photographed too darkly, and was encouraged to “lighten” herself up by dyeing her hair. She claimed that her mannerisms (voice, accent, the way she walked) came from watching the black prostitutes who plied their trade in her neighborhood. Maybe there is not concrete proof, but it would not surprise me at all. The is something about her face, especially in her nose and mouth that makes me think that she might have African ancestry. I mentioned this on one of those old movie forums and the white folks wanted to KILL me ROFL. They don’t want to believe any white folks they like to have mixed blood.

    • ooo says:


      It’s already on there in her bio,about the black bloodline

    • rere says:

      Jus saw a couple of her Mae’s movies today, and I don’t care what anyone has to say…..but she was definitely a light skinned African American. Gotta find some of her movies on dvd….she was something else.

    • Indiablack says:

      @ say what i agree, but i do think she got that hooker walk and attitude from black prostitutes at that time, i believe thats true, white prostitites where more classy so i thoughr, but i need to s
      ee proof about her so-called black blood, i would have never guessed in a million years i just thought she was a curvy funny think lady who acted

      Black, i always wanted my body shaped like hers but better lol ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.