Who is Victor Mature?
Victor Mature was a hunky Hollywood star who got his first break playing a caveman in the 1940 "One Million Years B.C." Then he made some musicals, moved on to film noir, famously played Doc Holiday in John Ford's "My Darling Clementine," and may be best remembered for starring in such Cecil B. DeMille Biblical epics as "Samson and Delilah" and "The Robe."
"For 40 plus years, my dad's Biblical epics were shown on TV around the world every single year at Christmas and Easter," daughter Victoria Mature recalled. "People grew up seeing my dad in those films and for many people, that was their only exposure to my dad and his films. And so, he kind of became synonymous with the sword and sandal, Biblical film epics because of television."
Victoria only got to know her dad when he was retired and in his 70s and 80s.
"I think my dad, in his retirement, really believed that his work — his 40-plus years of work — was pretty much ephemeral," Victoria said. "He had a good time. He had a good run. He was happy. But I think he thought it was over."
But Victor Mature had never taken his Hollywood success entirely seriously.
"I love how my dad is so self-deprecating," Victoria said. "He was known for this, and he was known for not taking himself seriously. When he was at the height of his fame in the 1950s, he decided he wanted to join the L.A. Country Club because he wanted to just be able to play golf whenever he wanted to. And so he goes to the club and he says, 'Hey, I'd like to be a member.' And they say, 'Oh, Victor, I'm so sorry, but we don't allow actors to be members here.' And he says, 'Well, I'm no actor, and I've got 64 pictures to prove it.'"
The long road to the cabaret
Victor Mature died in 1999 but this Saturday he lives on in his daughter’s cabaret show. It's a show that has taken years to create.
I met Victoria Mature back in 2015 at a TCM Classic Film Festival where she was introducing one of her father's films and that's when she discovered something.
"When I went to the TCM Film Festival they ended up showing 'My Darling Clementine,' and I went and I was just amazed at how many people were at that festival," Victoria said. "It was just amazing to me and how much enthusiasm there was for classic film and at that screening in particular, how much enthusiasm there was for my dad and his performance. And so from that point on, I started watching his movies, and I'd watched some before, of course, in the past. But I really went from the beginning to the end and watched every one of his films and started to learn more about the times, and what was going on when he was making the films."
In 2018 I invited Victoria to introduce "I Wake Up Screaming" at a Film Geeks Noir on the Boulevard event and that was when I got to see the first sparks of her cabaret idea. So, I have been eagerly following its progress. With each new introduction she did, she seemed to be testing out a new element, a new story, or a new song.
One of the wonderfully inventive things in the show is — through the technical skill of Pete Shaner — Victoria gets to appear onscreen with her dad in a few of his films.
"It's fun getting to have a conversation with my dad," Victoria said. "When I saw those movies, there's so much life, there's so much vitality and I missed a lot of that growing up and so it's just wonderful, and getting to have those conversations with him in the films is another way to connect with him."
And to connect with a younger version of her father that she’s only now getting to know.
The idea for the show excited Bodhi Tree Concerts, which is dedicated to not just supporting local artists, but using them.
"We've known Victoria for forever. She's been a local gift to the artistic scene for many years," Bodhi Tree co-founder Walter DuMelle said. "And then when she presented the idea of putting an homage together of a video of her father, storytelling, songs that meant something to both of them, it sounded like the perfect culmination of what's important to Bodhi Tree. She is pulling a lifetime of experiences, of storytelling, of songs that were meaningful in her life with her father. So, it's really going to be a real intimate storytelling hour. And we hope that it will be not only entertaining, but kind of just one of those warm, fuzzy sharings that you can only get with this kind of relationship and a lifetime of knowing each other."
The multimedia cabaret takes place Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. at Vision: A Center for Spiritual Living . The show allows Victoria Mature to share memories of her dad as she’s creating new ones.