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20th Century Fox
Victor Mature starred in the 1941 film noir "I Wake Up Screaming."

Victoria (and Victor) Mature Cabaret offers a unique father-daughter act

This Saturday Bodhi Tree Concerts presents the Victoria (and Victor) Mature Cabaret, a daughter’s tribute to her famous father.

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United Artists
Victor Mature got his first film break playing a caveman to Carole Landis' cavewoman in the 1940 film "One Million Years B.C."

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."

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Paramount
Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr starred as the title characters in Cecil B. DeMille's 1949 Biblical epic "Samson and Delilah."

"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."

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Victoria Mature
Victoria Mature celebrating a birthday with her dad Victor Mature. Undated photo.

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."

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Victoria Mature
Behind the scenes of a movie with Victor Mature and Betty Grable.

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.'"

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Victoria Mature
Victoria Mature created the "Victoria (and Victor) Mature Cabaret" to pay tribute to her famous actor father.

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.

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Miguel Rodriguez
Bill Romero, Beth Accomando, Victoria Mature, Pete Shaner (who creates the movie magic for the cabaret) and Miguel Rodriguez at TCM Classic Film Festival. April 3, 2015

"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."

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Victoria Mature
Victoria Mature spends time introducing her father's films at festival around the world. Here she does a video introduction for a screening of "I Wake Up Screaming" at a Czech film noir festival. Aug. 2021

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.

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Victoria Mature
A young Victoria celebrates a birthday with her parents Victor Mature and Loretta Sebena Mature. Undated photo.

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.

Victoria (and Victor) Mature Cabaret

"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."

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And to connect with a younger version of her father that she’s only now getting to know.

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Pete Shaner
Victoria Mature during a rehearsal of "Victoria (and Victor) Cabaret." March 6, 2022

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."

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Victoria Mature
Victoria Mature says her father Victor always loved dogs. Undated photo.

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.

I cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.
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