She starred in dramas and musicals. There Virginia Mayo is with dancer Gene Nelson, her costar in several musical features notably 1953’s She’s Back on Broadway and 1952’s She’s Working Her Way Through College.

That last pic drew this comment yesterday from reader Brittaney B.:  Recently saw ‘She’s Working Her Way Through College’ and was completely dazzled by Mayo.

You are by no means alone, Brittaney. Mayo’s personal favorite of all the some 55 movies she made was playing the burlesque queen who heads for higher education in She’s Working… 

Why? I enjoyed doing musicals best because I got to dance.’ And dance she did although her vocals were dubbed. Ok, on to the answers to our Virginia Mayo Quiz:

1) Question: For all of her renowned beauty, Mayo was privately embarrassed by what she considered to be her serious physical flaw.  What was it?  a) She was cross-eyed; b) She had buck teeth; c) Her receding hairline forced her to wear wigs; or d) None of the above. Mayo was perfect in every way.

1) Answer: a) Virginia was “very slightly” cross-eyed, and had to be photographed with care.  Otherwise, perfect.

2) Question: Mayo’s career may have been shortened by her reputation as a party girl and many offscreen hijinks including multiple marriages.  a) True; or b) False?

2) Answer: b) Absolutely false. Personally Virginia was pretty much a straight shooter offscreen.  She was married just once, for 26 years to actor Michael O’Shea, a union that ended with his death. She was a doting mother and grandmother, a lifelong Republican who converted to Roman Catholicism later in life.

3) Question: Of her key leading men, Mayo disliked Cagney and Alan Ladd, and most enjoyed working with Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster.  a) True; or b) False.

3) Answer: b) Just the opposite. Mayo very much enjoyed working with Cagney and Ladd but found her stints opposite Douglas and Lancaster more of a challenge. Lancaster was “very intense,” she recalled, but much more “likeable” than Douglas.

4) Question: Which one of the following Mayo movies was her personal favorite? a) 1944’s  Up In Arms with Danny Kaye; b) as Lady Barbara in 1951’s Captain Horatio Hornblower; c) 1950’s The Flame and the Arrow, directed by Jacques Tourneur; or d) 1952’s She’s Working Her Way Through College.

4) Answer:  As indicated above, the answer is (d).

5) Question: Mayo’s career was dogged by her inner doubts about exactly how good an actress she really was.  a) True; or b) False.

5) Answer:  b) False. Mayo rarely doubted her abilities. I was a better actress than I was given credit for,” she said. I know that for a fact.  So do we, Virginia.

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