Victor Mature and the Lion. By Tony Piazza

Victor and Hedy

Mature with Hedy Lamarr in Samson and Delilah 

CECIL B. DEMILLE and VICTOR MATURE was the subject of a story told by CUBBY BROCCOLI in his excellent autobiography, “When the Snow Melts.” My wife’s uncle, worked for DeMille as a groundskeeper at his Paradise Ranch in Little Tujunga Canyon. I met Broccoli, as you may remember from my earlier blog, and was impressed by his down-to-earth, kind personality. He came from Italian Long Island farmers and never forgot his roots.
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My picture of Cubby on location with Moore for “A View to a Kill”

His story goes:

Victor muscle

Victor Mature in character

Victor Mature was built like a brick you- know- what, but when it came to taking risks he was more mouse than tiger. During the filming of Samson and Delilah with co-star HEDY LAMARR he had to wrestle with a lion. The studio was going to use a young lion that was to be tied down by the back paw (hidden of course from the camera). However Mature wasn’t too keen on the idea. He agreed to do it only if they got another, tamer lion. DeMille got Leo, the old M.G.M. mascot and had a man waiting in the wings with a gun in case the cat got out of hand. The camera started rolling and DeMille shouted, “Action!”

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Cecil B. DeMille

Mature approached the animal, but it was apparent by his actions that the closer he got, the increasingly more frightened he became. DeMille witnessing this from his director’s seat eventually reached his boiling point, and shouts impatiently at the actor,

“For crying out loud, Victor it’s an old lion and toothless!”

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Studio Portrait of Victor Mature

To which Mature responds,

“Look, you bald-headed *****, I don’t want to be gummed to death either!”

Leo MGM

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I highly recommend Broccoli’s autobiography. Aside from the Bond years, it is filled with wonderful in-sights into early Hollywood and a personal look at some of Cubby’s celebrity friends such as HOWARD HUGHES, CARY GRANT, ALAN LADD, and many others.

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Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was released early 2012 and is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.  His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it where fine books are sold, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.

Also: Watch for the new Tom Logan mystery thriller published soon by Amazon!

Due out mid-2013!

 

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8 Responses to “Victor Mature and the Lion. By Tony Piazza”

  1. Victoria Mature says:

    Thanks! I’ve always enjoyed that story…in all it’s variations!

    • tonypiazza says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting. It was the first I’d heard it- and it’s been a long time since I’d laughed out loud. Mr. Broccoli said that Victor Mature told that story often. Great fun!

  2. Maureen says:

    Funny! I always enjoy your stories Tony!

  3. Ninette says:

    Tony, Thank you for writing about actors we grew up with. The actors and films of the past were quality. It was a pleasure to go to the movies, these days, I don’t even pay attention to most of what is on the screen. My mother was a huge Victor Mature fan, and today, my husband was telling me of his memories of this wonderful actor.

    • tonypiazza says:

      I agree. I cannot understand people that will not view a film if it is in black and white, or silent. So many classics and classic actors came long before color…or sound! Film should be viewed from all eras, and yes, the quality of celebrity talent and quality films have diminished over the recent years. There are some exceptions, but it is true when they say that they don’t make them like they used to. Thank you for commenting.

  4. I don’t blame him one bit. I have a healthy respect for big critters, too.

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