Virginia Mayo

Active - 1943 - 1997  |   Born - Nov 30, 1920   |   Died - Jan 17, 2005   |   Genres - Western, Comedy, Action, Musical, Drama

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

Radiantly beautiful blonde actress Virginia Mayo was a chorus dancer when she began her film career as a bit player in 1942. She rose to face as Danny Kaye's leading lady in a series of splashy Technicolor musicals produced by Samuel Goldwyn. Though never regarded as a great actress, she was disturbingly convincing as Dana Andrews' faithless wife in Goldwyn's The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and as James Cagney's sluttish gun moll in White Heat (1949). In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Mayo was one of the most popular female stars at Warner Bros., appearing in musicals, melodramas and westerns. Many of her characters were so outre that one wonders whether Mayo was having some sport with us: her turn as Jack Palance's paramour in The Silver Chalice (1955) and as Cleopatra in the guilty pleasure The Story of Mankind (1957) immediately come to mind. And it is Mayo who, in Warners' King Richard and the Crusaders (1955), utters the immortal high-camp line "Fight, fight, fight! That's all you ever do, Dick Plantagenet!" When her film career faltered in the 1960s, Mayo turned to stage work on the touring-company and dinner-theatre circuit; more recently, she has been a frequent interview subject on TV documentaries dealing with the old Hollywood studio system. Virginia Mayo is the widow of actor Michael O'Shea.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography