Comedy film star Virginia Mayo dead at 84

Jan. 18, 2005 at 8:46 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Beautiful blonde comedic actress and former vaudevillian Virginia Mayo has died in Los Angeles. She was 84.

Mayo died of pneumonia and heart failure after a long illness in a nursing facility near her home in Thousand Oaks, family friend Alex Ben Block told the Los Angeles Times.

Mayo launched her movie career with a small part in the 1943 movie "Jack London," starring her future husband, Michael O'Shea. She also received billing as a Goldwyn Girl in "Up in Arms," a 1944 comedy starring Danny Kaye and Dinah Shore.

In the same year, Samuel Goldwyn promoted Mayo to leading lady, casting her as Princess Margaret in "The Princess and the Pirate," an adventure comedy co-starring Bob Hope.

After moving to Warner Bros., Mayo gave one of her best-remembered performances, in "White Heat," director Raoul Walsh's crime saga in which Mayo played the wife of James Cagney, a mentally disturbed gang boss.

She is survived by her daughter, Mary Johnston, and three grandsons.

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