Virgina Mayo was one of the great beauties of 1940's Hollywood. Born Virgina Clara Jones in St. Louis, Missouri November 30, 1920, she began taking acting and dance lessons at the young age of six years old. AFter graduating Soldan High School in 1937, she quickly went on to join the "Muni" (st. Louis Municipal Opera) chorus.
Her first big break was being recruited by her brother-in-law, vaudeville performer Andy Mayo for his act "Morton and Mayo." She toured with this show for three years before landing a Broadway part in Eddie Cantor's "Banjo Eyes," now going by the name Virginia Mayo.
It was at this time that she was scouted and came to the attention of Sam Goldwyn, who signed her to a five year contract as one of his Goldwyn Girls for $100 per week. Her first popular film was 1943's Jack London, starring Michael O'Shea, who, though married at the time and 14 years her senior, would later become her husband.
She quickly became popular as an actress personifying the role of the dream girl, or girl next door. Though she was known to draw audiences for her looks alone, she landed her first starring role in 1944 opposite Bob Hope. This opened up a new genre of film in comedy, while continuing to play mostly wholesome, good-girl roles.
In 1946 she broke her previous stereotype by accepting a role in The Best Years of Our Lives, as the gold-digging Marie Derry. Her performance was well received by critics, and the production became the largest grossing film domestically since Gone With the Wind. at the height of her career in the late 1940's, Mayo was considered the definition of Hollywood beauty.
Star for a star
Virginia Mayo was one of the first actresses to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February of 1960.
She continued to produce prolific work into the 1950's, including The Flame adn the Arrow with Burt Lancaster, and The story of Mankind with Vincent Price, Hedy Lamar and Cesar Romero. Her film career slowed in the 1960's, although she continued to appear act in movies and transitioned into TV during the 1970's and 1980's with such series as The Love Boat; Murder, She Wrote; Santa Barbara; and Remington Steele.