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“Mae West” Life Preserver

“Mae West” Life Preserver

Catalog #: 68764M    Accession #: 257061
Credit: Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 27.5" H x 12.75" W x 1.25" D

Physical Description

khaki cotton with inflatable rubber bladders

Specific History

Type B-4 life preserver, commonly referred to as a “Mae West.”

General History

Mae West was a veteran of vaudeville and Broadway. She made her first movie and immediately became a national sex symbol when she was nearly 40. With her hourglass figure, saucy double-entendres, and sinful saunter on five-inch heels, she was a natural bombshell. During World War II, Allied soldiers called their inflatable life jackets "Mae West" in honor of West's famously buxom figure.


War: World War II
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