Why I ‘turned down’ Virginia Mayo

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MAYO. Missed opportunity.

I remember one of Imelda Marcos’ film fests in the ’70s. She rushed the construction of the Film Center, hoping that the Manila International Film Festival would compete with Cannes, Venice and other international festivals. So, Hollywood stars were invited to grace the event.

Imelda was eager to prove that Filipinos knew how to show hospitality. Among those who came were Alexis Smith and her husband, better known as Peter Gunn. Peter Ustinov was well-loved by his official escort. Peter O’Toole wasn’t as well-liked by his, however, because he spent most of his time in his room, drinking.

The young Brooke Shields was the festival’s star attraction. But, women swooned at the sight of Franco Nero, then the companion of Vanessa Redgrave, who’s remembered for the musical, “Camelot.”

Virginia Mayo was also present. She came with her husband, Michael O’Shea. She portrayed the faithless wife of Dana Andrews in “The Best Years of Our Lives,” co-starring with Fredric March, Myrna Loy and Teresa Wright.


Mayo also appeared in musicals, so when a perky boogie was played, Johnny Litton prodded me to dance with her. However, having seen how differently Hollywood stars execute the boogie-woogie from the way Nida Blanca did it with Nestor de Villa, I demurred.

Yes, Virginia was eager to dance, but I hesitated. Finally, the star of “White Heat” asked, “Are we going to dance?” But, I walked away, because if the two of us didn’t dance well together, the failure would be my shame!

Instead, when the next number was played, I danced with Rosemarie Sonora, who did the boogie the Pinoy way. That was the way I enjoyed it, never mind that I missed my chance to dance with one of Tinseltown’s most glamorous blondes.

While Rosemarie and I danced, we bumped into George Hamilton, who was with Imelda Marcos. Thereafter, I danced with Barbara Perez—and I was happy!

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