Mamie Van Doren, one of the famous Hollywood Blonde Bombshells, burst onto the scene in the 1950s as a beautiful, voluptuous starlet at Universal Studios.
She became an overnight sex symbol, often referred to as one of the "Three M's" (Marilyn, Mansfield, and Mamie). Unlike Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, Mamie has now endured over six decades as a movie star, singer, nightclub entertainer, television and stage actress, model, covergirl, and author. In her early films, she was featured as an irresistible bad girl or mantrap. Many of these films now have a cult following.
Mamie has a long connection with Palm Springs.
She was Miss Palm Springs in 1950 and Palm Springs Rodeo Queen in 1957. She performed on several occasions at the world-famous Chi Chi, introducing her nightclub acts before taking them on to clubs in New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere.
In her autobiography 'Playing the Field,' Mamie describes Palm Springs as a favorite romantic get-away for her and her substantial list of lovers. That list is a virtual Who's Who of Hollywood personalities, sports figures, politicians, and even astronauts.
Mamie was married five times. Mamie and second husband musician Ray Anthony regarded Palm Springs as their favorite "love nest." Ray fathered Mamie's only child, Perry, born in 1956. She also performed and partied in Palm Springs with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.
"…I have a long running love affair with Palm Springs. My career really started there after being discovered by Howard Hughes in the Miss Palm Springs beauty contest. After I signed with Universal Studios and became Mamie Van Doren, I was queen of the Palm Springs Rodeo, and I dedicated the tall palm trees that still line Palm Canyon Boulevard as you enter Palm Springs. Though I never made a movie in Palm Springs, I rubbed shoulders with everyone from Frank Sinatra to William Powell. My parents lived in the high desert near Palm Springs, and my mother and I often went there to shop and just take in the ambience of the desert oasis.
More than a survivor, Mamie is a phenomenal presence that still creates a sensation wherever she goes. She has had a very fulfilling life playing by her own rules and by embracing her status as a sex symbol. She admits, "Flaunting is what I have done for a living" for decades. Once a mere sex kitten, she is now a Hollywood Icon.
Roger Freeman is a Palm Springs Historical Society Walking Tour Docent.
Join the fun
Join the Palm Springs Historical Society for a cocktail party celebrating Mamie Van Doren at the historic Andreas Hotel and Spa. Enjoy heavy hors d'oeuvres provided by LuLu California Bistro, cake by Manhattan in the Desert, a no host bar, raffle, and scheduled appearance by Miss Van Doren herself! Saturday Oct. 25, 2014 from 5:30-7:30 pm. $55 for members, $65 for non-members. All proceeds benefit Palm Springs Historical Society. Reservations: (760) 323-8297