Victor Mature

victor mature

Turner Classic Movies has been showing an awful lot of Victor Mature pictures lately: “The Robe” and “Demetrius and the Gladiators” on Easter, and “My Gal Sal” not long after.



Oh, you don’t know him? See the above photo. Victor Mature (which was, believe it or not, his real name) was a big handsome Italian-American who appeared in a whole bunch of movies in the 1940s and 1950s. He was every cliché you could think of: broad-shouldered, barrel-chested. He was tall, dark, and handsome. His shirt seemed to come off in every single movie he was in. (Even as the songwriter Paul Dresser in “My Gal Sal,” he gets tarred and feathered, and we get to see Carole Landis gently clean the tar and feathers from his immense torso.)



Hollywood is all about pretty girls and handsome men. Back in the 1990s, the house movie reviewer for “Premiere” magazine, Libby Gelman-Waxner (who was really Paul Rudnick), answered a letter from a reader thusly (I paraphrase):



Dear Libby: You seem to like or dislike movies based on whether or not you’re attracted to the lead actors. Libby: that’s not what movies are all about. (signed: Reader.)

Dear Reader: Oh yes it is.



The above photo is from “Samson and Delilah,” in which the lovely but very petite Hedy Lamarr played Delilah. This inspired Groucho Marx’s great comment (which I’ve bowdlerized slightly): “I don’t like seeing movies in which the men’s breasts are bigger than the women’s.”



But you can’t deny that Victor had That Certain Something.



There were lots of other big lugs in movies in those days – Aldo Ray, Gilbert Roland, Jack Carson, Stewart Granger, even Keenan Wynn. They were all big and beefy.



But none of them had big dark vulnerable eyes like Victor Mature.



We miss you, Victor.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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