Victor Mature, the movie star whose pecs were seen in gladiator movies and Biblical pictures in the 1940s and '50s, but who got his start as a stage actor, died Aug. 4 in southern California.
He was thought to be 86. The cause of death was cancer, The New York Times reported.
Notably on stage, Mature was featured in the groundbreaking Moss Hart-Ira Gershwin-Kurt Weill Broadway musical, Lady in the Dark, opposite Gertrude Lawrence. In the 1941 musical, he appeared in fantasy sequences conjured by a neurotic magazine editor (Lawrence); he played a movie star in one sequence, and reportedly wore tights in another.
Mr. Mature was born in Louisville, Ky., the son of an Austrian immigrant. The Times reported that shortly after arriving in Hollywood, he camped out in the back yard of Pasadena Playhouse director Gilmore Brown and did odd jobs around town to earn money for acting lessons.
He appeared in small roles in 60 productions at the Pasadena Playhouse. Leading roles there in Autumn Crocus and Ben Hecht's To Quito and Back and got him noticed by movie producers. His physique and dark features made him an instant beefcake star on film. His pictures include "Kiss of Death," "My Darling Clementine," "Timbuktu," "Hannibal," "The Robe," "Demetrius and the Gladiators," "The Egyptian," "My Darling Clementine" and "Samson and Delilah."
He retired young, but appeared in several films after his heyday: The Monkees' "Head," "Every Little Crook and Nanny," Vittorio's De Sica's "After the Fox" and the TV movie, "Samson and Delilah," playing Samson's father.
Mr. Mature married five times. He is survived by daughter Victoria.
-- By Kenneth Jones