Here’s another photo from the Pat Williamson Collection. Pat, a good friend of ours, wanted to share this marvelous candid taken of herself in uniform with Lana Turner when they were selling war bonds in 1942!
Dig those shoes!
Hello everybody, those classic movie guys, Joe Morella and Frank Segers, back with another photo from a private collection.
This is probably the only photo of Lana dressed as if she were a member of The Junior League. Even a sex symbol and pin-up had to dress conventionally when she was working for Uncle Sam.
It wasn’t the first time Pat had worked with Lana.
Williamson, a former actress, recalls that she had an uncredited bit part in 1939’s musical romantic comedy, “Dancing Coed,” the film where Lana met musician-bandleader Artie Shaw. (Also appearing in the movie in unbilled small parts were Veronica Lake, Robert Walker and big band drummer Buddy Rich.)
At the time Lana was deeply involved with crooner Tony Martin. Pat remembers that Martin haunted the set and kept calling Turner “Lan, Baby.” His constant monitoring of her whereabouts didn’t help him. Lana eloped with Shaw.
However, she soon divorced Shaw and went back (temporarily) to Martin.
Pat Williamson, by the way, was also a talented professional musician. After her World War II stint, she joined Phil Spitalny and His All-Girl Orchestra, a musical ensemble popular in the late Forties and early Fifties. Pat remains a good friend of the classic movie guys. Given how spiffy she looks in that uniform, it’s a pleasure to salute her.
YESTERDAY’S PIX: We’d bet that you recognized the two young ladies who got some training in “B” Westerns before they made the BIG TIME. That was Rita Hayworth with Tom Keene in 1936’s “Rebellion.” And Marjorie Reynolds was pictured with Bob Baker in 1938’s”The Black Bandit.”
LAST WEEK’S BOB HOPE BLOND BEAUTY: That, of course, was Virginia Mayo who starred with Hope in 1944’s “The Princess and the Pirate,” the still from which we ran on Monday, June 27. (Scroll down to see the photo.)
Mayo was 24 at the time she posed with Hope for the picture, a relatively new Sam Goldwyn hire with a vaudeville past — part of a “performing horse” act dreamed up by the Mayo Brothers; hence her show biz surname — and a peaches and cream complexion in her present.
Born Virginia Jones in St. Louis, Mayo started taking dancing lessons from an aunt at age six. There was no looking back. After high school, there was a stint with the St. Louis Muncipal Opera, then vaudeville, then an invitation to Hollywood from producer David O. Selznick, who soon determined that she had no future in films.
Independent producer Goldwyn thought otherwise. He paired her with Hope confident that she would hold her own, and she did. After “The Princess and the Pirate’s” box office success, Mayo’s movie career — lasting until the early 1990’s — was off and running.
She had a supporting role in Goldwyn’s 1946 screen masterpiece, “The Best Years of Our Lives.” She was Paul Newman’s first onscreen leading lady in Warner Brother’s 1954 New Testament drama, “The Silver Chalice,” in which Mayo was top-billed opposite Jack Palance (an actor she disliked; she found him “weird.”)
Not all of her roles were as a goody, two shoes. She teamed up with George Raft to combat super-meanie-murderer (Raymond Burr) in producer-director Roy Del Ruth’s 1950 United Artists film noir, “Red Light.”
But by a long shot, our favorite Mayo role is that of the two-timing slut married to the excessively mother-loving gangster (James Cagney) in Raoul Walsh’s 1949 crime classic from Warner Brothers, “White Heat.”
Mayo’s portrayal of the double-crossing wife setting in motion the series of events climaxing with Cagney’s explosive self immolation “on top of the world” is hard to forget.
In one key scene, Mayo’s character, Verna Jarrett, kisses her lover (gangster film regular Steve Cochran) while chewing gum. No wonder she drove Cagney’s character nuts. Mayo years later said that Cagney was the costar she most admired. She also heaped praise on Gregory Peck and Alan Ladd — but not Palance.
Mayo spent her later years working in television — “Wagon Train” as Beauty Jamison, and on “The Love Boat” series. Among her last movies was the independently-produced “Evil Spirits,” a 1990 horror outing supposedly shot in 10 days. Hey, the check cleared.
Mayo died in January 2005 in Thousand Oaks, California. We kinda hope she was chewing gum at the time.