Best known for the films “One Million B.C.” (1940), “My Darling Clementine” (1946), “Kiss of Death” (1947), “Samson and Delilah” (1949) and “The Robe” (1953), Victor Mature, as well as being an actor of film and television, was also an accomplished thespian.
Considering previous productions Mature had appeared in, the thespian was rightly concerned “nobody was going to believe I could do anything except grunt and groan.”
Irwin Shaw’s “Retreat to Pleasure” was just the opportunity Mature required to break free of perceived industry misconceptions. Mature joined the Group Theatre for the specific purpose of appearing in the Shaw written play. Not long thereafter, Mature was cast in the musical “Lady in the Dark.” Based on a book penned by Moss Hart, the musical included songs composed by Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill. In “Lady in the Dark,” Mature was seen playing Randy Curtis. Mature is quoted to have described his role thus:
“First, this secretary came out saying ‘What a beautiful hunk of man!’ Then Danny Kaye topped that with a long, long introductory number. Finally, I made my entrance. John Barrymore told me I was the only person who could have followed up all that.”
The son of Marcello Gelindo Maturi and Clara P. Ackley, Mature was born in Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday, 29 Jan. 1913.
When a child, Mature attended Louisville’s St. Xavier High School. After graduating from high school, Mature went on to attend the Kentucky Military Institute, and then Spencerian Business School.
For a brief period, Mature is known to have been a vendor of candies. Before finally relocating to California, he operated a restaurant.
Exemplifying the actor’s commitment to his chosen craft, for three years, Mature resided in a tent in the backyard of Mrs Willigan’s home. Mrs Willigan, the mother of fellow Pasadena Community Playhouse student Catherine Lewis, was taken with Mature’s ability as an actor. It was the strength of his conviction to the craft that convinced Willigan to allow her daughter’s friend to pitch a tent in her backyard.
It was during a production of the Ben Hecht written play “To Quito and Back” Mature was spotted by talent agent Hal Roach. Not surprisingly, in Sept. 1939, Mature signed a seven-year contract with Roach. If it were not for Roach, Mature might not have made his film debut as Lefty in the 1939 comedy “The Housekeeper’s Daughter.”
During the next 45 years, Mature accumulated 56 acting credits, film and television combined. Mature’s last appearance came when the Lee Philips directed television fantasy adventure film “Samson and Delilah” was televised on Sunday, 1 April 1984.
The Faces of Victor Mature
In addition to Mature, other entertainment professionals born on this day include:
For a more comprehensive list of entertainment professionals born on 29 January, click the provided link.