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Victor Mature, Hollywood Actor

Did you know that Louisville’s St. Michael’s Cemetery is the final resting place of a man who epitomized old Hollywood? In the middle of the cemetery is a dramatic weeping angel that marks the grave of film actor Victor Mature.

The first Hollywood leading man to be officially labeled a “hunk,” Mature was born in Louisville and grew up in the Germantown neighborhood. As a youngster, he attended Roman Catholic schools, including St. Xavier High School; he completed his education at the Kentucky Military Institute in Lyndon.

In the 1930s, Mature left Louisville to pursue his Hollywood dreams. Once in California, he trained at the Pasadena Playhouse, where he was discovered by talent scouts. In 1940, the world premiere of his first film, "One Million B.C.", was held in downtown Louisville at what is now known as the Palace.

Mature’s most memorable role was probably as leading man in the 1949 Biblical epic "Samson and Delilah". He appeared in more than 50 films in all, among them "Chief Crazy Horse," "The Robe," and "My Darling Clementine".

But Mature didn’t let stardom go to his head, often downplaying his success. He also never forgot his Louisville roots, returning for visits with friends and to attend charity events.

Aside from the occasional cameo, Mature retired from acting in 1961, spending his time golfing and living mostly on investments. He died of cancer at his Rancho Santa Fe, CA home in 1999.

More on Mature:

  • As a youngster, Victor helped his father, George, a cutler, in the family business.
  • Mature’s biography in the Internet Movie Database notes that actor Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo and Thurston Howell III on TV’s "Gilligan’s Island") was a classmate at the Kentucky Military Academy.
  • Mature also sold candy and ran a restaurant in Louisville as a young man.
  • According to the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville, Victor worked there as an elevator operator before heading to Hollywood.
  • Mature joined the Coast Guard after the Navy rejected him for being colorblind. He was on Okinawa when the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan in World War II.
  • The many Louisville charity events in which Mature was involved included the Foster Brooks Pro-Am Golf Tournament for Kosair Children’s Hospital.
  • Mature’s leading-man status wasn’t limited to the silver screen. He had a reputation for romancing notable Hollywood starlets at the height of his career, including a few of his co-stars.
  • Mature married five times. The fifth, Loretta Sabena, gave birth to daughter Victoria in 1975.

For more on Victor Mature, visit Mature’s Matinee, the Victor Mature Fan Club web site.

Program 211
Christmas collectors, local author and restaurateur Vince Staten, and a visit to petting zoo Henry's Ark. Roland R. Blahnik, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, is our guest. (#211)