One of the greatest American stars of all time was Victor Mature. He was a talented actor and was also remembered greatly as one of the early heartthrobs of cinema. In fact, many people remember him as the first Hollywood Hunk.
Victor Mature struggled through his life to become a successful actor and he was often having to compete with other leading men at the time to secure bigger roles and establish himself as a star.
His life’s journey was a mixture of glamor and strife and it’s certainly an inspiration for anyone who wants to pursue their dreams. If you aren’t familiar with Victor Mature’s life story, you’re in for a ride! This is a biopic unlike any other.
Join FactsVerse to learn about Victor Mature’s life and career, the struggles in his life, and the little-known facts about the first Hollywood Hunk…
VICTOR MATURE’S EARLY LIFE AND CAREER
Victor John Mature was born in 1913, in Louisville, Kentucky. His father was a cutler from Trentino – then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but is today in modern-day Italy. His mother was born in Kentucky and has Swiss heritage. He didn’t come from a show business background and so he had no guidance to enter this fun but competitive and often ruthless industry.
He eventually attended the Spencerian Business School and decided to embark upon a journey as an entrepreneur. He started his career as a candy salesman and then later began a career as a restaurant owner.
Whether he was good or bad at these jobs we don’t know much about. But it’s quite clear that neither of these professions could satisfy him or make him feel fulfilled.
He grew up watching cinema and as he came of age, cinema had become the preferred medium of entertainment for Americans. He knew he wanted to become part of the cinema industry. He wanted to become a Hollywood actor. In fact, he wanted to become a Hollywood star.
He eventually left his restaurant business and moved to California where he studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. He really struggled during this time of his life and he even lived in a tent near the Pasadena Playhouse for a few years. Nevertheless, this was one of the best times in his life as he honed his craft and he was on his way to a Hollywood career.
At the Pasadena Playhouse he appeared in a few local plays and this helped him build his acting portfolio. Eventually, an agent working for the famous film producer Hal Roach found Victor Mature and realized that he’d be perfect for working in Hal Roach’s film productions.
Hal Roach was incredibly impressed with not only Victor’s acting skills but also his handsome looks, his charm and his personality. He felt that Victor Mature could become a star in his own right and could compete with the biggest Hollywood stars of the time.
Little did he know that Victor Mature would become the very first Hollywood Hunk!
VICTOR MATURE’S CAREER
Let’s now have a look back at some of Victor Mature’s greatest career achievements.
Her first known role was in a 1939 film called The Housekeeper’s Daughter. In his debut role, he played the small role of Lefty among a large cast of characters. He won praise for his role but was also seen as a “Tarzan-type character” by one critic. This seemingly harsh criticism would actually prove to be in Victor Mature’s favor.
The following year he was cast in the film One Million BC which remains one of his best-known films. In this film he played the lead role of Tumak. Tumak is a caveman who seeks to protect others and even wants to fight a dinosaur!
Quite an interesting way of introducing a relatively new actor to audiences, right?
While he was perhaps overshadowed in The Housekeeper’s Daughter, he managed to hold the reigns and steal the show in One Million BC. The film got mixed reviews from the critics but that didn’t and still doesn’t matter. The audience loved the film and almost overnight, Victor Mature became a huge star.
After the release of One Million BC, it seemed that Victor Mature’s career trajectory was unstoppable.
The same year, he starred in the film Captain Caution, which became another huge hit and was based on the War of 1812. Once again this was a huge hit and Victor’s career went from strength to strength. He continued to work with Hal Roach but also lent his talents to other studios – as Hal Roach didn’t make films as frequently as others.
A mention should be made about Victor Mature’s foray into musicals. While he was happy with his career so far, he was also worried that he’d get typecast as just being a hunk. He appeared in a more sensitive role in the stage musical Lady in the Dark. He performed the musical for several months and it showed the audience a different side to his talents.
We should also mention that he took a break from his acting career to perform for the troops during the Second World War. This is actually why he wasn’t able to continue his role in Lady in the Dark. This is often risky for many actors as they seek to continue to work so that they don’t get forgotten. Nevertheless, he resumed his acting career with no issues and became an even bigger star following his stint during the Second World War.
After the left the musical, he embarked upon a successful career with 20th Century Fox and several other major studios. His career continued to be on an upward trajectory and he was now receiving a diverse range of roles. His great films included My Darling Clementine, Moss Rose, Kiss of Death, Fury at Furnace Creek, Wabash Avenue, Stella, Something for the Birds, The Robe, The Egyptian, Chief Crazy Horse, Violent Saturday, Safari, and Zarak.
He also started Romina Productions and produced and acted a few films of his own. These films included China Doll and Escort West.
His other major films at the final stretch of his career were Timbuktu, Hannibal, After the Fox, The Tartars, Every Little Nook and Cranny, Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, and Firepower – which was his final film.
LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS ABOUT VICTOR MATURE, THE FIRST HOLLYWOOD HUNK
Victor Mature was married 5 times. His first wife to Frances Charles only lasted 2 years and ended in annulment. His other marriages ended in divorce except his final marriage which ended when he passed away in 1999.
He had one daughter, Victoria from his final marriage to Loretta G. Sebena.
He had a great reputation for being a great colleague to work with and unlike the typical Hollywood Hunk, he wasn’t afraid to try different types of roles. He was known to be a serious actor and he was often very involved in his character development.
There was a time when he was known to dominate religious and historical epic films such as The Robe and The Egyptians. These films were hits back then and are considered classics now – many of them are considered as such because of Victor Mature.
In fact, while we often consider Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas as the quintessential leading men for such epics, it was actually Victor Mature who held the reigns first.
While we know that Victor Mature entertained the troops during the Second World War, he was much more than an entertainer. He was a patriot who was willing to take a hiatus from his career to serve his country. He served as a petty officer in the Coast Guard and was stationed on the ship Admiral Mayo.
With his service, he traveled all over the world – exploring France, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. In fact, when the Atomic Bomb was dropped in Japan – he was stationed in Okinawa!
He also wasn’t afraid to take on riskier roles. In Zarak, he played an Afghan character who got flogged to death. As far as we know, we haven’t seen this in Hollywood since!
But despite the fact that he was such an accomplished actor he wasn’t afraid to show off his sense of humor. The fact that he didn’t always take himself seriously actually helped him become a serious actor. He once applied to become a member of a prestigious social club in Los Angeles. They rejected him by stating that they didn’t accept actors. He then laughed and stated that he wasn’t an actor and had “64 films to prove it!” In fact, he once even stated that he was actually a golfer and the critics could confirm that he wasn’t an actor!
While we know about Victor Mature’s wives, few know that he was actually briefly engaged to Rita Hayworth. The actress Esther Williams also stated that she had an affair with Victor Mature during a difficult time in her life.
Victor Mature died on August 4, 1999 at the age of 86 due to leukemia. But since his passing, he hasn’t been forgotten and he’s remembered as one of the greatest actors of his generation. George Clooney, one of the finest actors of our modern times played a character heavily based on Victor Mature in the film Hail Caesar! That’s quite a fitting tribute – from one great actor to another.
Victor Mature had a career that spanned almost 50 years and was prominent in cinema but also had a formidable career on stage and even in a few television movies. We’ll always remember these little-known facts about Victor Mature, the first Hollywood hunk.
So, now let’s hear from you:
Are you a fan of Victor Mature? Did you know these little-known facts about the first Hollywood hunk?
In fact, here’s what we want to know from you:
Do you think that there is a time limit on Hollywood hunks such as Victor Mature?
Or is it that once you’re a hunk you’ll likely never be forgotten?