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Virginia Mayo (November 30, 1920 – January 17, 2005) was an American film actress.

After a short career in vaudeville, Mayo progressed to films and during the 1940s established herself as a supporting player in such films as The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and White Heat (1949).

She worked extensively during the 1950s, but after this her appearances were fewer. She worked occasionally until her final performance in 1997.

Early life

Born Virginia Clara Jones in St. Louis, Missourimarker. Tutored by a series of dancing instructors engaged by her aunt, she appeared in the St. Louis Municipal Opera chorus and then appeared with six other girls at an act at the Jefferson Hotel. There she was recruited by vaudeville performer Andy Mayo to appear in his act (as ringmaster for two men in a horse suit), taking his surname as her stage name. She appeared in vaudeville for three years in the act, appearing with Eddie Cantor on Broadwaymarker in 1941's Banjo Eyes.


Mayo continued her career as a dancer, then signed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn and appeared in several of Goldwyn's movies. With Danny Kaye she played the dream-girl heroine in comedies including Wonder Man (1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (1946) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947). In her Hollywood heyday, Mayo was known as the quintessential voluptuous beauty. It was said that she "looked like a pinup painting come to life," and she played just such a role in the 1949 comedy "The Girl from Jones Beach."

In 1949's White Heat she took on the unsympathetic role of the cold and treacherous "Verna Jarrett," opposite James Cagney. Mayo later claimed in interviews that she was occasionally genuinely frightened by Cagney during the filming of the picture, because Cagney's acting was so realistic and natural.

She was also cast against type as a shallow golddigger in The Best Years of Our Lives, in which she gave a performance that garnered much acclaim.

Her film career continued through the 1950s and 1960s, frequently in B-movie westerns and adventure films. While she also appeared in musicals, Mayo's singing voice was always dubbed.

Virginia and her husband , actor Michael O'Shea (of Jack London film fame) co-starred in such hits as Tunnel of Love, Ficrello, and George Washington Slept Here. She has also starred in Cactus Flower, How the Other Half Loves, and the musical comedy, Good News.

Mayo has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine.

In 1996 she received a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Personal life

In 1947, she married actor Michael O'Shea, who died in 1973. They had one child, Mary Catherine O'Shea (born in 1953). The O'Shea family lived for several decades in Thousand Oaks, Californiamarker.

She died of natural causes in Los Angeles in 2005 at the age of 84.


Features: Short Subjects:
  • Gals and Gallons (1939)
  • Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Night Life (1952)
  • Screen Snapshots: Salute to Hollywood (1958)

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