Actress Virginia Mayo Dead at 84 – Report
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Virginia Mayo, a 1940s screen siren who co-starred opposite such greats as Danny Kaye and James Cagney, died near Los Angeles on Monday of pneumonia and heart failure, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site. She was 84.
Mayo, whose films included “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “White Heat” and “The Best Years of Our Lives,” died in a nursing home near her residence in Thousand Oaks, California, the newspaper quoted a family friend as saying.
Famed for her peaches-and-cream complexion and curvaceous figure, the St. Louis native appeared in more than 40 films during the 1940s and ’50s, equally adept at comedies and dramas.
A former vaudeville performer, she made her Hollywood debut in the 1943 movie “Jack London,” starring her future husband, Michael O’Shea.
She teamed with Kaye the following year in “Up in Arms,” and they reunited over the next few years in “The Kid From Brooklyn,” “A Song Is Born,” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
Perhaps her most memorable role was as the unscrupulous wife of Cagney’s gangster character in the 1949 crime melodrama “White Heat.”
“Jimmy was the master actor, the most dynamic star the screen ever had,” Mayo told the Los Angeles Times in 1981. “His acting was so real that I was really scared half the time we were on the set.”
Her other credits included “Captain Horatio Hornblower” with Gregory Peck; “The Silver Chalice” with Paul Newman; and “The Flame and the Arrow” with Burt Lancaster.
After her career faded in the early 1960s, she did stage and dinner theater work. She was married to O’Shea from 1947 until his death in 1973. She is survived by a daughter, Mary Johnston.