Happy birthday, Victor Mature!
On January 29, 2013, Victor Mature – that “King of Beefcake”, that “Beautiful Hunk of a Man” – would have turned 100 years old (or 98 or 101, depending on which source you believe). Although he was known to legions of fans for such Biblical epics as Samson and Delilah (1949) and The Robe (1953), and classic hits like My Darling Clementine (1946), Mature was also a significant presence in the film noir world, appearing in The Shanghai Gesture (1941), I Wake Up Screaming (1942), Kiss of Death (1947), Cry of the City (1948), and The Las Vegas Story (1952).
In honor of Mature’s birthday, Shadows and Satin is pleased to offer up some tasty tidbits and fascinating facts about this fetching fella who, incidentally, didn’t mind the monikers that were attached to him early in his career: “If properly compensated,” he once said, “I can stomach anything.” (My favorite is “The Face That Would Melt in Your Mouth.” Har!) Here goes . . .
The actor’s real name was Victor John Mature. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky.
Mature’s father, Marcellus George Mature, was an Austrian immigrant who began his life in America as a scissors grinder. Eventually Marcellus found success in the commercial refrigeration business.
Mature was the youngest of three children. His brother and sister both died at a young age.
Not exactly a model student, Mature was sent home on his first day of school at the George H. Tingley school for biting his teacher. At another school he attended, Mature once said, his mother was summoned so often that the other students thought she worked there.
Mature was kicked out of several schools and finally quit at the age of 15.
His film debut was in 1939, a small part in The Housekeeper’s Daughter, starring Joan Bennett. His brief appearance led to an avalanche of fan mail.
While filming My Gal Sal (1942) with Rita Hayworth, Mature fell head over heels for the red-haired beauty, and although he was still married to his first wife, he expected to make Rita spouse number two. But the couple was separated when World War II started and Mature signed up with the Coast Guard Temporary Reserve; he spent 14 months aboard a Coast Guard cutter in the North Atlantic patrol. The relationship experienced its final death knell when Hayworth began dating actor-director Orson Welles and married him in September 1943. (Mature later told columnist Louella Parsons that Hayworth was “the only girl I ever felt I truly loved.”)
Mature had a total of five marriages, but his last, to former opera singer Loretta Sebena, was the real thing. Mature and “Lorey” remained married for nearly 25 years and in 1975 welcomed Mature’s first and only child, Victoria.
After Mature’s appearance opposite Hedy Lamarr in Samson and Delilah, comedian Groucho Marx quipped: “I don’t like any movie where the leading man’s chest is bigger than the leading lady’s!”
According to Mature, his success in Hollywood’s Biblical epics was due to his ability to “make with the holy look.”
In Esther Williams’s autobiography, she revealed that she had an affair with Mature during the filming of Million Dollar Mermaid (1952).
In the twilight of his career, Mature made his small screen debut in the TV remake of Samson and Delilah (1985), in which he played Samson’s father.
Mature died of leukemia in 1999.
Mature was once quoted as saying: “If you’re so concerned about f**king privacy, don’t become a f**king actor!”
Happy birthday, Victor Mature!