VIRGINIA Mayo. The name conjures up thoughts of GLORIOUS TECHINICOLOR, Bi-i-g PRODUCTION NUMBERS. Bob Hope. Danny Kaye.
Virginia Mayo, ne Virginia Jones in 1920, is a grandmother now, but she says indeed she wouldn't turn down the offer of some juicy movie role and she's still working in theater and films.
It was raining in Thousand Oaks, Calif., other day and Virginia Mayo cheerily told a phone interviewer that she was right in the middle of sewing a blouse.
"I just finished cutting out the pattern and I hope it comes out right because it's a pretty material."
It didn't seem so long ago when we were watching her cavorting with Danny Kaye in "A Kid From Brooklyn."
Tall and blond, Virginia Mayo was in the right place at the right time. She fit the image of the Hollywood chorus girl of the '40s and spent many hours in the background of color extravaganzas wearing slinky gowns with slits up the sides and glittering, three-dimensional, sequined-covered wires on her head.
Hollywood found out she could dance, so she was paired with Jimmy Cagney in "The West Point Story."
From then on it was a series of Hollywood movies with travalogue titles like "Pearl of the South Pacific" and "South Sea Island Woman."
She sailed the seas with "Horatio Hornblower," was captured by more pirates than almost any actress around and was always being rescued by guys who looked like Erroll Flynn.
All in all she made some 54 movies, including four with Danny Kaye ("Up in Arms," "A Song Is Born," "Secret Life of Walter Mitty," as well as "The Kid From Brooklyn"). With Bob Hope she made "The Princess and (what else?) the Pirates."
She married actor Mike O'Shea and they had a daughter who now has two children of her own. Now widowed, Mayo shares her big, roomy house with her daughter's family.
Virginia Mayo appeared a few months ago in a dinner theater in Atlanta, Ga., in a British comedy called "Move Over Mrs. Markham."
She has also toured in plays like "Cactus Flower," "No, No Nanette," and would like to do more movies. She also paints and has sold "a few."
Joel McCrea is a neighbor of hers and Dennis Morgan sometimes drives down with his wife to pay a visit, but mostly she stays away from the Hollywood scene. Once she caused some controversy when she advised yound actors to stay out of Hollywood especially women, suggesting that Hollywood roles for women were poor because of the number of homosexual writers, producers and directors.
"When women are included in their stories,"she said, "they are unattractive people, or females are brought in for the nude scenes or explicit sex themes."
But she says now that "homosexuals have contributed a lot to the movie industry, a lot more than they harm it."
She has no plans to retire, and says she's still looking for "that big part."