Tuesday, November 7, 2023

November Star of the Month: Virginia Mayo


BIRTHDATE: November 30, 1920

DATE OF DEATH: January 17, 2005

AGED: 84 years old

DIED FROM: Pneumonia 

REAL NAME: Virginia Jones. She got her last name from a vaudeville act she was in with the Mayo Brothers who played the front and back end of a horse with Miss. Virginia 

MARRIED: Once to actor Michael O’Shea

AFFAIRS: Howard Hughes( who didn’t get down with this dude), possibly Ronald Reagan

CHILDREN: One daughter

TALENT: Dancing,  Comedic Timing, Dramatic Flair

KNOWN FOR: Her beauty where she was labeled the most beautiful blonde in the world. The Sultan of Morocco called  her “Tangible proof of the  existence of God.” This despite she was slightly cross-eyed.

I always liked this actress whom I first saw in one of her many films she made with the legendary Danny Kaye. She seemed more than just a pretty face, which was obvious, she seemed to know how to hold her own against a scene chewer like Kaye. She was a great, light comedienne so it surprised me when I saw her in White Heat plying a slovenly, Bitch of a wife to James Cagney who had no problem snoring it up and looking less than glam. She could also dance and loved being in musicals to showcase her dancing although her singing was always dubbed, apparently. She was one lady who probably had a couple of boyfriends but when she married fellow actor Michael O’Shea, that was it and they stayed together until he died in 1973 from a heart attack. She never remarried but enjoyed life, her daughter and grandkids until she passed away. She would talk about her co-stars some she loved like Gregory Peck, James Cagney and Joel McCrea but thought Jack Palance weird and intense as well as Kirk Douglas who she didn’t care for nor did she care much for Burt Lancaster. Well, she liked him much more than Douglas but thought he was too…rough. She did like Danny Kaye and found him funny but she also thought he was. Bit into himself but she still learned a lot from him. I remember her laughing at her older age, her weight gain and her career which was no laughing matter. I think she is under-rated even though she made some duds, she made some great ones, too, even if she was “second fiddle” to the male star….she still shone through. 


1. WONDERMN-1945




5. A SONG IS BORN-1948


7. WHITE HEAT-1949





  1. Well, even though I know who she is, the only film I remember seeing is White Heat.

  2. Beautiful woman, unfortunate last name. Should've stuck with Jones.

    1. Hahaaaa...I never thought of that but yes...

  3. Her beauty worked against her as far as being fully appreciated as an actress I think. It was easier for the studio to plunk her into something that relied on her looks (stuff like "Pearl of the South Pacific" or "South Seas Woman" for example) than find projects that utilized her very real acting ability. But she might have been somewhat complicit in that, from different interviews I've read she didn't seem to be burning with ambition like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were. More content to focus on her marriage and child she was often willing to take whatever was assigned.

    However the few chances she did get, the big two were "The Best Years of Our Lives" and especially "White Heat", she showed great skill and unrealized potential. That's not to say I don't enjoy most of her films, they are almost always entertainingly colorful but often empty of any import. I've seen most of her films and what I'm missing is the later horror junk that was the lot of many of the second tier stars of her day which I have no burning desire to catch up with.

    My top 10 of hers:
    The top 2 are a virtual tie for the 1st place but the rapacious Verna in White Heat has a bit more meat than the shallow Marie in Best Years.

    1. White Heat
    2. The Best Years of Our Lives
    3. Out of the Blue-a delightful little comedy with a great female cast (beside Virginia there is also Ann Dvorak, Carole Landis and Elizabeth Patterson. It also features one of George Brent's best performances)
    4. Wonder Man
    5. Across the Great Divide
    6. The Proud Ones
    7. Flaxy Martin
    8. Smart Girls Don't Talk
    9. Colorado Territory
    10. The Flame and the Arrow

    The Princess and the Pirate is fun too but I like Burt Lancaster much more than Bob Hope so Flame gets the #10 spot. I can however see how Virginia found working with both Burt and Kirk a challenge at times, they both were famously intense men, though unfailingly professional. I've read that Danny Kaye was charming, generous and helpful...to a point but the star of a Danny Kaye production ultimately would never be anyone else but Danny Kaye.

    1. Hi Joel....I always felt a fondness for this girl. I know she had no real ambition which is fine, by my book. She was great in your first 2 picks and always liked her in the Kaye movies. She would say he was funny etc but also said he was quite into himself. She said that when Burt would kiss her he would bring her to him so roughly and kiss her that she thought her teeth would get knocked out. I have to see your film with the other actresses in it. I'd love to see it and more

  4. I liked her. I don't think I have ever sought out her films, but I enjoyed her when I ran across her. It sounds like she really had a bead on her co-stars. Her impressions of those guys sound spot on.

  5. I remember her from a few movies, but didn't know all of them. Sounds like she made the most of her life and her career. Interesting to read her takes on the men she co-starred with.

    1. Yes, she is one of the few to give her true take on her co-stars