Victor and Alyce photoI want to tell you about one of the most wonderful guys I have ever known: a warm-hearted, honest and honorable person: a zany, unpredictable, changeable character--a friend of mine, Victor Mature.

Many labels have been pinned on Vic. I'm adding a new one. I think he's a thoroughbred. I think he has the sensitivity and gallantry and fineness all thoroughbreds have. I know he's a mixture of French, Swiss, Greek, Italian, Irish, and Austrian, but that's not what I mean. You see, I don't care what stories have been written about Vic before; I don't care how much he has been played up as the glad boy, the extrovert, or the clown. I want to tell the real story of Victor Mature. It may not be the one you read about in the gossip columns, but it's a story a few people who know him well will recognize. In a word, it's the story of a thoroughbred.

I think this story has to be told by a friend. Vic would never let anyone but a friend get close enough to him to see beneath the surface. Compliments embarass him; appreciation makes him squirm. He brushes off thanks. To people who don't know him well Vic seems brash and colorful. This is the Vic that has been too often publicized, too much in the limelight. His friends see him differently.

Just who are Vic's friends? Well, they aren't fly-by-night people. They aren't friends Vic blesses with his companionship for a few weeks. Vic's friendships are long-lasting. Carl Schroeder and Jules Seltzer are closest to him. They've been his closest friends since Vic lived in a tent when he first came to Hollywood.

Now, after a number of years, people get to know the measure of a man. They know his faults and weaknesses; they know his high spots; and they know his low ones. One of the most revelatory facts about Vic is that these two buddies of his would fight and die for him. And, in turn, Vic does the biggest press agent job for them ever done on anyone around this town.

As a matter of fact, whenever Vic likes someone, he tells the world about it. His friend and house guest, the distinguished Dr. Donald McCannell, formerly of Mayo's, isn't just another specialist. To Vic, he's the best. Jules Seltzer, who doesn't publicize Vic, is "the smartest publicity man in town"; Carl Schroeder, who has seen Vic in only one picture is "the best editor and writer." Vic brushes them all with a certain wonderful, warm glamor. He's proud of them. It isn't a phony act. It's real and sincere. Whomever Vic loves, whatever he owns, has to be the best. His dog is the best dog in the world; his friends the most wonderful, the most clever. And, because he is by nature an extrovert, he doesn't keep these morale-building opinions to himself. He tells the world.

I love to watch Vic in a roomful of people. He is so completely natural. He likes to loosen his tie, kick off his shoes--relax. Of course, this is only with people he knows very well. It's wonderful to see the drama and color he brings into a gathering. His booming voice, his zest for life, his warm-hearted appreciation of the other fellow; all these things make Vic stand out in a crowd. I love to watch Vic tell a story. He acts everything out. If the character in the story breaks a lamp, watch out for your lamps. Vic does such a real job of almost breaking your lamp that you get a bit on the nervous side.

I like to see the effect Vic has on people who have never met him before. Maybe they have a preconceived opinion of him. Maybe they think he's conceited, or careless of other people's feelings, or a glamor boy with his mind on the next blonde. They soon change their minds for Vic knocks himself out to make you feel charming. He sends you into hysteria with his self-directed humor. His anecdotes, which point fun at himself, are like having a ringside table at the best show on earth. He's a brilliant, wonderful comedian. He will tell you that he doesn't have the flair for comedy in pictures, but you could fool me. I have spent hours with Vic laughing so hard at his zany, wonderful, mad descriptions of things that have happened to him that I was breathless.

Vic has a strange sensitivity. He is more sensitive to what you think and believe and feel than any person I have ever known. And, if he has a self-appointed task, it is to make other people happy. Maybe you think this sounds corny. Or unreal. Or dreamed-up. Then let me tell you what I mean. When Vic was in Las Vegas last year, he couldn't help noticing that the Hotel Last Frontier was jammed with unhappy divorcees. Now some of these gals were happy and light-hearted; some were beautiful; some wore mink coats and diamond bracelets. And all of them were on the rebound. Vic, being Vic--that is, being young, handsome, vibrant, male, a movie star, and famous--could have dated the most lovely of these. But what did he do? He started going out with the girls who looked rather lost and forlorn, the girls without the mink coats and the happy laughter and the beautiful faces. And he made these girls, who thought their worlds had crashed around them, feel like the most terrific glamor girls in the world. Vic is like that.

I've seen Vic drop in with friends for a casual evening and run into someone who was having trouble. Maybe it was a girl who had just broken up with her boyfriend; maybe it was a man who couldn't get back into the swing after being overseas. Now Vic may have had a bang-up evening planned with his current glamor date, but suddenly that girl would be just plain out of luck. And the prettier she was and the more popular and famous, the more she'd be apt to be stood up under such circumstances. Because it's impossible for Vic to walk into a situation and find unhappiness and not try to straighten things out before he leaves. This may be rather tough on his previous date, but Vic never stands anybody up unless he's helping someone else get their quirks straightened out.

Vic's sensitivity shows itself in the most unexpected ways. His dog, Genius, was ill for several months. Vic is almost as crazy about that dog as the dog is about him, so at first he visited Genius at the hospital. But Genius went mad with joy whenever Vic came around, broke his leg over again in the excitement, so, finally for the dog's own good, Vic had to stop seeing him until he was well. Meanwhile, the people next door wanted Vic to have their police dog. But would Vic let the police dog even come in the yard, much less the house, until Genius came home? If you know Vic, you know he didn't. Instead, he waited until Genius had been duly and happily welcomed back, and then he let Genius discover his friend, the police dog, next door. They started romping together, crossing the fence to play in Genius' yard, and now the two dogs live happily on Vic's domain.

Vic can't bear rudeness. The more insignificant the person, the more carefully Vic listens to what he has to say. If others interrupt carelessly, Vic is apt to be rude to them. The guy who some say just hasn't any manners, has the most beautifully courteous manners I have ever seen.

I like Vic's uncomplicated way of looking at life. Black is black and white is white to him, and there are no in-betweens. You can present a problem to Vic, and he will spot its solution with uncanny accuracy. Maybe you might have been twisting the thing around in your mind for days, wondering: "Should I do this, or would the other way be better?" But Vic's mind is uncluttered by frills and furbelows. He can get to the crux of the matter immediately. He has a keen, analytical common sense all too rare in this genius-afflicted town.

Vic is cagey. Sometimes he will try to fool you. He is intelligent and smart, with a razor-edged mind. Just the same, he sometimes pretends to ignorance to find out what you really think, or what you really think of him. He'll mispronounce words, to see if you will correct him, ignore him, or laugh at him. He doesn't like to read. He isn't the intellectual type. (Just a little webmaster's note: Vic was really well-read and obviously an extremely intelligent person and a brilliant businessman. :) Frankly, Vic prefers boogie to symphony; but he has an extremely keen mind. You may fool Vic once; you'll never fool him twice. Vic can read people like people read books.

Because of this, compliments embarrass him. He can know you have a warm feeling in your heart for him, that you think he is a wonderful, fine, grand guy without ever putting it into words. He just feels it, and he returns your regard with the same warmth. He may cover up his sentiment with wisecracks, but the real Vic stands in back of you, steady and sure. No friend of his ever has to ask for help when trouble strikes.

As a matter of fact, Vic isn't much different from Doc Holliday, the role he played with such smashing success in "My Darling Clementine." If you'll remember, in that picture the Doc covered up the fact that he was dying from a fatal disease by acting rough and tough. He didn't want his fiancee to discover his nobility. Well, that's our boy; that's Victor. You may go right on hearing how he waltzes through first one gal's life, then another. You may think, then, perhaps that he's fickle and reckless. But remember this: if Vic stopped to hang around after he got people back on the right track, then he wouldn't have so much time to do the same for the next guy.

I don't know how I can explain to you that most of Vic's charm comes from his unpredictability. He never knows what he will be doing from one moment to the next, so how can he advise anyone else? If you're a friend of his, you have to be more or less on call. You can't be offended at a one o'clock at night phone call. It only means that Vic just suddenly got bored at a party and decided he'd like to see you. Nor, by the same token, can you be offended if he walks out of your house at nine. You see, he's restless; he likes constant excitement. If things aren't zooming, and the walls of Jericho aren't tumbling down where he is, then he'll make a beeline for the next possibility.

I like to watch Vic when he's out in public. I like to see him at Billingsley's, for instance. Because then it's so very evident that he is himself at all times. He's the same guy when everyone is staring at him as he is when he's at home. He uses the same emphatic, colorful gestures; his voice is as booming and commanding. He is absolutely without self-consciousness. This is refreshing. So many Hollywood stars put on an act when they are out and quite another at home.

I like to watch Vic give someone he doesn't like the brush-off. Brother, it's royal. He's no hypocrite. Where others yell, "How are you, darling?" to your face and knife you in the back, Vic simply turns on his heel if he sees someone he can't stand. It isn't in his makeup to be phonily pleasant, even for five minutes, to anyone he dislikes.

He dislikes people for a number of reasons. He hates those who pretend to be what they are not. He hates a phony. He doesn't like affectation, pretense, pseudo-nicety. He hates cattiness, pettiness, the old knife-in-the-back routine. He doesn't like people who are two-faced; he doesn't like back-slapping, ingratiating people. He doesn't like people who want something out of him, who play him for a sucker. He doesn't like liars. Since Vic's temper is terrible and terrific, once he gets angry, he is unforgiving and unrelenting. Still, it takes an awful lot to make him angry; and it takes an awful lot to make him dislike a person.

I like to think of another Vic; the one who came from a wealthy family, whose mother, today, is--to put it crudely--a millionaire. You'll never hear this from Vic. To hear him tell it, you'd think he grew up playing on the streets of New York. He never talks family at you, although his is one to be proud of. I like to think also, of the Vic who lived in a tent when he first came to Hollywood because he wanted to save rent. He was broke, and he needed the dough. What most people don't know is that Vic need not have gone without a single meal. His dad had one of the biggest refrigeration businesses in the country. Only Vic wanted to make his way on his own. There is just something about the guy that you know doesn't fit into the category of a sponger.

There was the Victor Mature who was so in love with Rita Hayworth when he went off to help win the war that he could hardly sleep. There was a tender, sweet Vic; that was the Vic his friends know. I have a deep respect for the Victor Mature who came back after hell fires to find his girl had married someone else; for the Vic who has never let one word of criticism--even to his closest friends--pass his lips, of the girl who didn't wait.

Vic has a gallantry about him that is fading all too fast into the realm of fable and legend. People are getting soft. Too many of us are losing the courage of our convictions; we are afraid to do the things we want to do. We are afraid of what people will say. Not Vic. He's living his life honestly--and there's a grandeur to it, a kind of superb directness. Maybe other Hollywoodites squirm a bit when they come face to face with what they are; when, alone with themselves, the substance meets the shadow up there on the screen.

But when Vic looks into the mirror, he can look himself in the eye. And, although he'd be the last person in the world to admit it, of this much I'm certain: quite a wonderful guy looks right back at him.


Vic laughing Vic and Alyce joking around

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