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.

*Irish, possibly English (father)
*German (mother)

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 –

Genealogies 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. Kara says:

    Mae always reminded me of a light-skinned black woman because of her swagger. Not surprised at all.

  2. lil girlie says:

    she is stuck in my family tree someplace. we are doing research to figure out which branch

  3. lil girlie says:

    she is stuck in my family tree someplace, we are researching which branch

  4. hapa kamoa/Pukiki/haolii says:

    thats kinda a scary picture

  5. ria says:

    reading the comments it’s stupid how people don’t want to believe she has black in her and don’t want it to be mentioned but for black icon celebrities it’s okay for them to be defined as mixed with european and other stuff when they look clearly black. When they are defined as black people don’t want to leave it at that and must believe that there is something else.

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