Mamie Van Doren & Bo Belinsky
You’d think a baseball pitcher would know better! So how come a southpaw hurler whose favorite pitch (consistent with his wacky personality) is the screwball—goes to bat in the game of love and lets a curve throw him?
The curve, of course, is blond, brown-eyed Mamie Van Doren, who has exhibited her stuff mainly in minor Hollywood movie league. Mamie, a right-hander, has compiled an oh-for-two record on the matrimonial circuit, with a brief marriage at age fifteen and a five-year, tempest-tossed marriage to band leader Ray Anthony.
The pitcher who is dazzled by Mamie’s curve is Bo (otherwise known as “Beau”) Belinsky. In his rookie year, Bo pitched a no-hit, no-run game for the Los Angeles Angels (it’s like winning the Academy Award as Best Actor for the first picture you made), and then went on to star in “The Dakotas,” “77 Sunset Strip” and “The Lloyd Bridges Show” among others, and to pitch woo off-screen and off-diamond to such pulchritudinous players as Tina Louise, Zenaida Abella, Donna “Prettiest Eyes” Hovey, the Stevens girls—Connie, Dodie and Kay, Carmen Phillips, Gloria Eves, Michele Swain, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Ann-Margret. Not bad pitching.
To find out how the pitcher-actor-playboy let the curve throw him—and to discover what special motion or technique the curve used—we went to the House of Serfas, a restaurant in Los Angeles, separated Bo and Mamie (a hard thing to do!) and asked each (with the other out of earshot) to give a “His” and “Hers” version of their romance, engagement and marriage plans. Mamie was first to talk, a privilege we give to ladies.
How did you meet Bo?
“It was a blind date. My ex-husband, Ray Anthony, sort of played Cupid, you know. Ray called me when he was with Bo, he wanted me to meet them at some club. I said I didn’t feel like it, that it was too late. So I said why don’t I talk to Bo on the phone. So I did and I said, why don t you call me tomorrow and then we can make a date.
“And so he did. We went out the next night. I had never met him before. That was last September, I think.”
Is Bo a pretty good twister?
“As a matter of fact, I didn’t twist with him that night. He sat it out. I guess he was all tired out from playing that night. I twisted with Winchell.”
(Walter Winchell, Bo’s friend and adviser, has appeared in a film with Mamie, “College Confidential.”)
Did you like Bo right away?
“I liked him a lot but I didn’t have anything on my mind like marriage. And he didn’t try to snow me. We were just like a brother and sister team that night. We really were.”
After that first night, did you go out several times more? What did he do? What happened?
“He asked me, but I just said no. I told him, ‘I’m too tired,’ and that I had gone twisting the night before and I didn’t get home till five in the morning. And then he wanted me to go to Gene Autry’s party—you know he owns Bo’s hall team, the Angels. But I was just too tired. I liked him a lot, but I just didn’t know what he was trying to do.”
You thought maybe he was just on the make?
“Yeah, that was right. I’d heard about him from giris he’d dated. and I thought. ‘Well, if he’s that way . . .’ I kinda like a nice, sincere guy who doesn’t run around. He’d gone with so many girls, you know. And I thought I was just one on a string. So I didn’t want to get involved.”
But you did finally get together again with Bo?
“Yeah, while I was at the Chi Chi in Palm Springs. I was performing there and he snuck in to see me—after curfew hours, I think. And then he called me the next day. As a matter of fact. somebody had left him a message that I had called him. So he got all excited and called me, but I never called him. So, anyway, that was the beginning.
“We started seeing each other day and night in Palm Springs. Then he had to leave and I had to leave. I had an engagement in Vancouver and he called me and sent me roses opening night. Then he had to go to Palm Springs and I drove up and met him. We were with each other all the time. Then one Sunday night he proposed.”
How did he propose?
“Well, he had mentioned it very briefly to me over the telephone while I was in Vancouver. He had mentioned about, like, he wanted to get me a ring, and—and really do it up, because he really loved me.
“Well, I didn’t know quite how serious he was. you know? You can never tell over the telephone. And so then I thought, ‘Well, when I see him, we’ll discuss it then.’ And then Sunday night we talked about it. and then w e started talking about getting married. sort of like—he said that I was the only girl that he’d ever met that he really liked and—uh—I guess he’s kind of ready to settle down!”
Didn’t it say in the paper that Bo said, “Mamie’s my kind of woman’’?
“Well, yeah—that’s what he told me.”
Do you think he’s your kind of man?
Tell me what there is about him that you like.
“Well. his frankness. He’s outspoken. and—he’s a lot like I am. He says what he thinks. I thought I was outspoken, but he takes the cake! Well, like when I say something and I think it’s really ’way out, he comes up with a topper. He really breaks me up . . . with something really way out! I can give you an example, yeah, but it—it isn’t—it’s not too nice.”
Maybe he can clean it up a little bit?
“Oh. I don’t know. No—not at all! He’s too much. I’ve traveled around the world, and I’ve never been too much on going out, I sort of live my life alone, I just kind of like it that way. I’m a little gypsy, and I’ve met a lot of different men in different countries, but I’ve never really felt this way. . . . And I’m sure that he’s gone around too, and he oughtta know by now what he wants. Besides, he’s very generous, and he has a lot of sex appeal.”
That’s what they say but he’s not that good-looking, really. Is he?
“No, but he’s got a way about him that —the girls just go ga ga over. He’s very confident of himself. I call him ‘The Little Black Panther.’ He’s always wearing black. He’s got black, straight hair, and he’s got those slant eyes. He’s really so cute! Black suits, black shirts and so on. . . . Yeah. He likes black. He’s got that real nice skin.”
Is his mood ever black?
In Palm Springs, before he proposed, did you go out a lot with him there?
“Yes, we went day and night, we were out. You know, like I shot pool with him in the daytime. Yeah, that’s right. I shot pool with him! You know, over in the key club. Yeah. Don’t laugh. I was pretty good. You know, I used to shoot pool a little bit. And he’s excellent. We played rotation and eight ball. We did all of it. He played opposite a guy—the champion of Palm Springs—and he beat him. They played the game for a charity. And then I went around and collected the money for everybody to watch Bo play. And then afterward we went home. No, we went to the Riviera and had dinner, and it was, like, one o’clock. And then. like, Saturday night we went out to a little Mexican place where they have three guys to serenade you. . . . They serenaded Bo and me. And then we went back to the Riviera. It was so crowded—they had a convention up there. . . . And then ’cause he was late that Saturday morning for work—he didn’t show up till one. He was fined five hundred dollars for being late.
“I tried to get him to stay home Saturday night because he was gonna pitch. So, like, we watched TV for an hour and a half and he says, ‘Let’s get dressed and get out of here!’ So we went out.
“I went to see his game Sunday, because he pitched. And then when he got back, we had dinner, and then—he proposed to me. Then I got the car and came home, and he took off for San Jose.”
When do you and Bo plan to get married?
“I wouldn’t want to comment on that. I have no comment. He’s the man. I’m leaving it up to Mr. Belinsky to do all the talking about it.”
You seemed to have been taken by surprise when he announced that the two of you were engaged, and it sounded like you were a little peeved that he announced it. Could you explain about that?
“No, I wasn’t mad. It was just a surprise to me that he had announced it without letting me know. But he hadn’t announced it. It just slipped out, and somebody heard it, and the papers got hold of it and all of a sudden they called me and then I confirmed it. I didn’t expect people to find out. We were going to have a nice engagement party and all that and it just slipped out. He still wants to have one, yeah. I don’t know when or where. That’s what we’re going to talk about.”
What memories do you have of your courtship that are particularly pleasant to you?
“Let me see—courtship. . . . Well, golly . . . In Palm Springs, we went to the Racquet Club and sat around and got tan, and had orange punch drinks. I don’t drink. Bo doesn’t drink. He does smoke, but T don’t. So, like—those things we have in common. He likes to eat a lot. And I don’t especially eat a lot! I have trouble keeping my weight on.”
Are you a good cook?
“Yeah, you could say, I’m pretty good.”
What do you cook?
“Well, anything that he likes. Anything that you want to have. I can I can whip up a good dinner.”
Have you cooked for him?
But you’re looking forward to it?
‘Uh—no! Well, I don’t particularly like to cook. I’d rather have a maid cook. Bo likes steaks. Big red steaks. He has to eat a lot of those.”
Do you have a maid now?
Yeah, I live in a lovely big house above the Sunset Plaza drive overlooking Hollywood. With just the maid and my son. It has four bedrooms.”
Do you think when you get married Bo will move in with you, or will you move to another house?
“I think I’ll sell this house. I want to start all over. I have too many had memories in this house. . . . I had it when I married Ray.”
When did you get divorced?
What was the reason your marriage to Ray broke up?
“We had nothing in common.”
What are the things that you and Bo have in common?
“Uh—everything! Anything he likes to do, I’ll do. Just anything, like shooting pool, like taking off in the middle of the night someplace. I’m sure he would do that. I like to do things like that.”
Besides Ray—Ray Anthony—weren’t you married before? To a young teenager?
“Well. I was married. but my folks had it annulled, so I really don’t consider I was married. I’d rather not say the name of my first husband.”
You were engaged, weren’t you, to Tony Santora for while?
“I was never engaged. I just went with him. I never got serious enough to marry him, because I didn’t—really love him that much. We broke that up. . . . You know, how long can you keep going with someone without getting married? And I just wasn’t in the marriage mood.”
What is there about Bo that put you in a marriage mood?
“Well, I mean he’s—I think he’s ready for it—otherwise he wouldn’t have brought it up. And I think the two of us know each other, and we’re more or less—suitable to each other.”
How old is your son?
What’s his name?
Is he excited about the possibility of having a baseball player as a father?
“Yeah. he’s a little too young to know baseball, but he likes the idea fine.”
He likes Bo a lot, eh?
“Well, he’s only met him once.”
What did your son say about Bo?
“He didn’t say anything.”
Do you have any particular hopes for your marriage, or plans that you want to mention?
“No, I haven’t—nothing until I discuss this with Bo. But I am very happy.”
As she said this, I realized she was looking up at Bo, who had come back to our table. Mamie excused herself and started for the powder room. Bo and I stared after her. This girl certainly has a variety of curves, and I was going to find out just which one she had thrown the twenty-seven-year-old pitcher. When she disappeared, I turned to Bo and started asking questions.
Was it love at first sight for you?
“Great. Perfect. Maybe I really knew the second time I saw her, down at Palm Springs, you know, and—it was just one of those things.”
What was it that you liked about her?
“Everything! I don’t know. She’s got a good heart—’course, her looks aren’t too bad, either! But she’s a good-hearted gal, and she’s got a real good flair for life, and I like this in people. I can’t stand deadheads.”
What do you and she have in common?
“Well, I think we both have good taste. She’s started to become a baseball fan now. I’m gonna convert her. She’s gonna come out and view more of the games. She already has been. And—uh—I don’t know. We just like classy things, like to have a good time, and—uh—this is probably the most important thing, you know. What does she know about baseball so far? I don’t even care if she knows what three strikes are. you know. I like ’em that way.”
You said recently, “She’s my kind of woman.” What did you mean by that?
“Well, I don’t know. She’s a beautiful woman, first of all. And beauty is only there to be enjoyed. And like I said, I went for her the first time I saw her. I liked her looks, and it was just a matter of knowing what kind of gal she was. And she turned out to be a terrific gal. . . .”
She told me that after the first time you went out on a date she turned you down a couple of times because she was afraid, maybe, that she’d be just another girl on your list. What do you say?
“Well, you know, a lot of women in Hollywood are like that. they think I have them labeled, more or less. But, I saw her once, that first time, and then she sort of got a little difficult. I didn’t want to press anything. I felt, well, maybe I’ll see her somewhere along the line. Of course. I straightened her out on this. I think she asked around a little bit and found that I was a little sincere and she came around pretty good.”
Do you think the press has the wrong idea of you—saying you want to go out a lot and everything?
“Well, I’ll tell you. They dramatize and blow it up more than anybody else. I mean. I don’t think I’m any kind of sex maniac. If I’m seen with somebody, they’re going to blow it up. If I’m out till twelve or one o’clock in the morning. it’s four or five o’clock in the papers. Sometimes it gets sort of hectic. But I’ve got to grin and smile. I have a theory. Whether things are going good or things are going bad, I stay the same—say the same, do the same.”
How do you and Mamie’s son get along? Are you going to teach him baseball?
“Well, I didn’t get to know him too well yet. I mean, well, he’s a real good-looking kid. I’m not too experienced when it comes to something like this. I’ve never even thought about it. It’s something that will have to be, you know. when the time comes. About teaching him baseball? Well, I can’t say that. Maybe he’ll want to be a violin player or something.”
How do you like to spend your time with Mamie on dates?
“I like to avoid big crowds. I hate big crowds and we usually try to get together just by ourselves and talk about things. You know, real simple. Nothing extravagant.”
If Bo is on the level, he is really a changed man! For this is the guy who once talked a taxi driver into pretending to be a minister and performing a wedding ceremony in a Manhattan bar. (Later he worried, “I hope the chick realized the preacher drives a hack”) And this is the pop-off who, before he first met Ann-Margret, bragged, “When she meets me, I guarantee she won’t sing, ‘Bye, Bye, Belinsky.’ ” And this is the Beau who, after Angels manager Bill Rigney complained, “I’m sick and tired of getting to hotels and finding the girls waiting for him,” countered logically, “If l turned away from girls who throw themselves at me, the club would think I was a little lavender.”
Do you have any idea of when you’ll be getting married?”
“No, it’s indefinite, It’s almost impossible to make any plans during the baseball season. I’ll be bouncing around and it’s going to be a full-time job playing baseball. And when this does happen—our marriage—I’d like to have it with a free mind and really enjoy it. But we haven’t talked this over yet. I think the most sound thing is to wait until the season is over. Of course, we may get a little anxious, who knows?”
Do you think that Mamie will be able to go around and see you in different parts of the country when you re playing ball?
“Possibly, yes. That would be nice. Like maybe she could fly out to New York City. We could always work something out. I’ll make a little scene out there, you know. Show off my new fiancee, out there in New York City.”
Did you give Mamie a ring yet?
“No. I’m going to take care of this. I didn’t have any time. I was in California and Arizona, you know, and in Spring training—we don’t get paid. I guess I’ll have to play a lot of pool for it. I just footed a eight-hundred dollar bill at the Riviera Hotel. so . . . I just may have to break a jewelry store window.”
(Bo once told Thomas Thompson of Life, “This may sound a little crude but I’m in this game for the cash. So far baseball has given me nothing but a big pain and promises. So I get this firm offer from Japan, for two years at forty-five thousand per, and l just may go. Hell, I’d just as soon endorse Haki-Saki beer as any one here. Fujiyama razor blades, too.”)
For a little while, then, Mamie will have to go ringless?
“A guy called up from St. Paul, Minnesota, and he had just won a eleven-thousand dollar engagement ring on ‘The Price Is Right,’ and he wanted to sell it to me for six thousand, you know. He told me it was a seven-point cut, brilliant diamond and all this, and I told him, ‘Well, look, let me try it out for six months first!’ He wouldn’t go for that idea.”
Does the fact that Mamie’s older bother you?
“No. I think I’ve been around enough so that three and a half years isn’t going to make that much difference.”
What do you want to get out of life?
“Well, I’m still searching yet. I mean, I don’t know. It happened so quickly. I mean, I’ve been moving around pretty fast and never got situated. I guess I’d like to settle down a little bit right now. There’s nothing wrong with it. I bounced around a lot for seven years playing baseball. A house of my own and a family? That would be groovy—that wouldn’t be bad. That wouldn’t be bad at all.”
Mamie was back, and in a few minutes she and Bo were out on the floor twisting. It was hard to tell who was pitching and who was catching.
A few days later, the newspapers proved that the “new” Bo was the same old Beau. Scheduled to make an appearance at the Los Angeles Baseball Writers’ annual awards banquet, Bo called up and said that his car had run out of gas on the freeway and that he and his sidekick Dean Chance would be late.
Bo never showed.
But Bob Hope, a guest at the dinner, stepped into the breach. He told the people at the banquet, “The Angels had a little trouble finding this place, but Belinsky gave them directions and then went back to his other sport. . . . You all know Bo Belinsky. There was a rumor going around that he was up for sale . . . and three cocktail waitresses offered to buy him.
Then there was that champagne party Bo tossed after his first pitching win of the season. He attributed his win to the fact that Mamie attended the game. So did he give her the winning baseball? No, it went to his friend, TV’s Gypsy Boots, who had escorted Mamie to the game. If she was upset because she didn’t get the prize baseball, she didn’t let on about it. At Bo’s party, she was all smiles as she and her intended toasted each other.
The last word? It’s only fair that it be given to Walter Winchell, Photoplay columnist, who was present when Bo and Mamie’s romance began. Extending Bob Sylvester’s crack that “Somehow Mamie Van Belinsky doesn’t sound right,” Walter said, “If Mamie Van Doren becomes Mrs. Bo Belinsky (to read their planned wedlines), some of us will be very amazed.”
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JULY 1963