Victor - Life Owes You Nothing Article


Once again the name of Victor Mature is making history in the newspapers of the country. No longer are references to his marriage breakup with Martha Kemp Mature carried in the rumor columns; they have now hit the cold hard facts of the news section with "Victor Mature admits wife will get divorce...." And the women across the land who have made Victor Mature a success... Some feel a vicarious glow that another handsome male is back in circulation. Madcap it certainly was... the bride and groom  stole away three days later in a borrowed car and chauffeur - a tale which you will presently hear - to be married in seclusion... the groom who startled Hollywood by returning brideless ... and, after the bride finally arrived, the domestic symphony that alternated between passages of hot love and the staccato stridency of separation reports. What else, demanded men everywhere, could you expect from a so-called "beautiful hunk of man" like Mature. But there is an answer to this man who is at once lushly overestimated by women and rankly underestimated by men. It begins with the Louisville boy who couldn't take school discipline himself into a business success in a few short years -- from working in his father's scissors-grinding business to operating his own candy route and thence owning his own restaurant. Yet to Victor this was not the answer to the driving restlessness within him. On a wild impulse he decided destiny lay in the West. So he hustled around converting the candy business into cash and as much returned stock as he could get into the back seat of his car, then phoned his friend Charlie Root who said he'd be ready in thirty minutes flat... The trip cross-country was hectic but wonderful. Bound vaguely for California, but without itinerary or schedule, they poked along fitfully, stopping wherever and whenever the mood of the moody pilot dictated. With Charlie anything went - come or go, fast or slow. When they hit Texas the smell of the prairie and the dull, soft glow of the Texas skies began working their magic on the fabulous fugitive in pell-mell flight from himself. For three days they bivouacked at Dallas, city of beautiful women, and had them a larruping good time. If the young man in search of the destiny slighted the Dallas beauties, there is a justification for his conduct in this: Back in Louisville was a girl named Jeanette Morris who walked in beauty like the night - even if the phrase is right out of Lord Byron. From her vantage point a cut above the social stratum in which Vic moved, she was the only girl in his home town to challenge the boy's quest of the unattainable. The thought of her as he had seen her that first night at the country club of which he was not a member - when she had stood lovely and apart - had haunted him. And though he saw to it that they met many times thereafter, she still was to him a thing apart and therefore desirable. A few miles east of Denver a tire blew out, annihilating by that single blast the remaining capital and leaving no money for gas and oil. Undaunted, the erstwhile wizard salesman chose some chewing gum from the stocks in the back of the car and drove from filling station to filling station converting cartons of gum into gasoline (and on odd dollar or two) as he went along. That is the genius of Mature: He can sell anything - especially Mature. On the morning of October 23, Victor rolled into Los Angeles with a capital totaling eleven cents, his friend Charlie and a vexing dilemma having to do with his future. That very afternoon he got his first glimpse of Hollywood. And on the evening of the same day, he roared into a telegraph office, picked up a pencil and scribbled the following message to his father: "Arrived here with eleven cents and an ambition. I am going to become an actor. "Vic." A few hours later he received a classic reply. "Dear Vic: For your information, I arrived in New York forty-four years ago with five cents in my pocket and a stranger to the language. You have six cents more than I had. Furthermore, you understand English. "Dad." He read the telegram over three times before he put it away. For some strange reason he felt neither anger nor resentment. Nor disillusionment. Nor even despair. No, on the contrary he found his spirits gaining altitude by the second. It all came back to him now (only with more force and clarity than ever before) - this philosophy of his father's, the philosophy of a man who had bucked great odds and had prevailed. It rang in his ears like a phonograph record with its needle stuck ... "life owes you nothing ... life owes you nothing... life owes you nothing." His father was right. Life didn't owe you a thing; you got from life what you were man enough to wrest from it. The best proof of young Victor's complete endorsement of his father's wisdom lies in this fact: Never in the three or four years of storm and stress that lay ahead of him did he ask (or receive) of his father a single penny! There was, of course, the problem of shelter; so Vic drove up to the first drugstore he spotted, an establishment on Franklin Avenue, and talked the proprietor into buying eleven dollars worth of candy from the backseat stock. Then, blithe as a magnate who has just tapped the R.F.C. for a $1,000,000 loan, he set out to find himself and Charlie a roof over head. He found a place out on a near-by Canyon Drive (at $8 a month) that did the trick. It was a vacated servants' quarters atop a burned garage, but no one let out a yip. It was a place to sleep, wasn't it? They weren't even unpacked before Victor Mature was plotting his campaign. At the drugstore he bumped into a couple of actors who had come on evil days and were ekeing out a living on the now-defunct Federal Theatre Project. "What's the best way to go about becoming an actor?" he demanded as soon as introductions were over. "Movie actor?" "Yes, eventually." "Get all the stage experience you can. A good place to get it is over at the Pasadena Playhouse. They have Sunday night auditions that are open to everyone." "Even to jerks like me?" "Certainly." "Thanks. So long boys." A little urgent - that departure? So is Victor Mature urgent. Let an idea or impulse strike him and he reacts the way dynamite reacts to a detonator. With Mature the time is now. It is as much a part of him as his use of the word "genius" to describe anyone who isn't actually stupid, which last is the way of inflating the ego of the little man who, after all, can stand a little ego-inflating. Hence, it will come as no surprise that come Sunday evening and Victor Mature was up front and center at the famous Pasadena Playhouse directed by an equally famous Gilmor Brown and waiting more or less patiently, for his turn to read. The Sunday night tryouts, as it happens, are not the province of Mr. Brown; one of his subordinates, in this instance a man named Herschel Doherty, is in charge. It was this same Mr. Doherty who finally got around to the squirming young man in the front row, asked him to read, thanked him in routine fashion and told him they'd let him hear. For a week he hung around the house waiting for a message from the Playhouse, but none came. Still another week later, after having written the the tryout off the books, he was sitting in Sheetz' restaurant out at Pasadena and beauing a beautiful girl named Phyllis Bell, a student at the Playhouse, when Ted Carafodias, a Greek lad he had met the night of the tryout, rushed over. "They've been trying to reach you for almost two weeks. You've got a part. Get in touch with Mr. Brown right away . He happened to drop by the other night and heard you read." (End of Part 1)

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