January 18, 2005
Virginia Mayo, the beautiful blonde who rose to movie stardom in the 1940s in comedies opposite Bob Hope and Danny Kaye and Ronald Reagan and had memorable dramatic turns with James Cagney in White Heat and Dana Andrews in The Best Years of Our Lives, died on Monday, Jan. 17, 2005, in a nursing facility near her home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. She was 84. As a young star known for her ash blond hair, peaches-and-cream complexion, green eyes and curvaceous figure, Mayo caught the fancy of the sultan of Morocco, who wrote her a fan letter in which he proclaimed her to be "tangible proof of the existence of God." A former vaudevillian who came under the wing of producer Samuel Goldwyn, Mayo launched her movie career with a small part in the 1943 movie Jack London, starring her future husband, Michael O'Shea. Here she is shown with Reagan in a scene from 1952's She's Working Her Way Through College.