”I came to Hollywood determined to follow in Jean Harlow’s footsteps, but I was determined not to die young. My hope was to endure. And endure I have.”
It is unfair to lump Mamie Van Doren (born 1931) into a convenient little group of bombshells along with Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. She has a kind of Rock ‘N’ Roll sensibility that those other girls lacked, plus her story is not tragic. And, most important, she is still with us, looking like a million bucks.
Van Doren says that she had her way with Rock Hudson after they went on a studio arranged date to the 1953 Photoplay Awards. While filming Yankee Pasha (1953), she enjoyed the special company of the director Joe Pevney and the film’s star, the very yummy Jeff Chandler. She had a liaison with fellow actor Jack Palance, and prolific songwriter Jimmy McHugh (Let’s Get Lost), at the time columnist Louella Parson’s boyfriend, making a lifetime enemy of the notorious gossip writer.
Van Doren had a string of affairs in the 1950s, including Dragnet’s Jack Webb, Denmark’s Prince Alex, abusive millionaire drunk Conrad ”Nicky” Hilton, Jr. (one of Elizabeth Taylor’s exes), before she became engaged to big band leader Ray Anthony. Around the same time, Confidential Magazine threatened to run a story claiming that Van Doren and her mother had a side business as call girls, but her lawyer had the story stopped.
She had a son with Anthony, before they split up. After that, Van Doren had a fling with Elvis Presley in 1957. The next year she had her best screen role yet with the Clark Gable / Doris Day comedy Teacher’s Pet. During filming Van Doren enjoyed the special company of the aging Gable, before moving on to actors George Hamilton, Yves Montand and bisexual Laurence Harvey. She even dropped LSD with Cary Grant!
I am not just coming up with the list of men in Van Doren’s life out of my imagination. In her terrific memoir, Playing The Field: Sex, Stardom, Love, And Life In Hollywood (2013), and on her candid blog, Van Doren is very forthcoming about the men in her long life.
Oh, by the way… she was #BornThisDay!