"Sure, they called me 'Beautiful hunk of man'. Should I mind? Beef comes dear these days and so long as the money's right what do I care?"
It must not be imagined from that remark by Victor Mature that money means more to him than other things. On the other hand although his generosity is a catchword throughout film circles, he'll tell you that he has 'a sharp eye for a buck.'
KEEPING HIS PILE
"I haven't the slightest idea of winding up in the red like so many of these guys you read about who made their pile and then went bust when they most needed it," he says.
Vic has insured himself against that mishap by opening up a chain of shops selling radios, television sets and records in Los Angeles. You might say he has an all-in policy with films, radio, TV and the record player business at his fingertips.
But he doesn't expect to be out of a job for some time to come -- even if he gets some pleasure out of knocking his own screen ability. "It has taken me nearly twenty years to get to the top, wherever that is, and I don't feel like quitting yet." For the same reason Mature never chases away autograph hunters -- he regards them much as a ship's captain regards his barometer. His willingness to oblige fans was put to the test in Tripoli this year when as an American serving as a sergeant in the British Army, he was making 'No Time to Die' for Columbia. Vic, constantly besieged by Italian, French, British and even veiled Arab women, was offered an extra guard at his hotel to keep him from being bothered. "Thanks a lot -- but no thanks," he said.
'I figure that I am the highest paid sergeant in the world. I should make somewhere in the region of 200,000 dollars out of this picture and these people put me in that income bracket. Let 'em all come.' And Vic went on signing merrily. He's that sort of guy.
Although he's riding pretty high Mature likes to talk about the early struggles for recognition. "There was a fella named De Mille," he recalls. "I couldn't make any impression at all. That man got in my hair something awful. Finally I rented a trailer, stuck up a huge sign telling De Mille what he was missing and parked out opposite his office for a week. The guy still wouldn't melt." But Vic had the last laugh when he signed for 20th Century-Fox and went on loan to Cecil B. De Mille to play Samson in 'Samson and Delilah'. Now on a six-picture contract with Warwick Films, Mature has no immediate worries -- and wouldn't worry if he had. "I just relax and let things happen to me," he confides.
They're usually big things, for Vic is a big man who never does things in a small way. He thinks big -- 'hunk of beautiful man' suits him from the top of his head, 6 ft. 2 1/2 inches down to the ground.