Mayo was discovered by Samuel Goldwyn when she was playing in a Billy Rose revue at the Diamond Horseshoe in New York. The revue was called, and this is the sort of thing the Siren tries to remind herself of when she gets all dreamy-eyed about the golden age of New York nightlife, Mrs. Astor's Pet Horse. Sure enough, like Mack Sennett before her, Virginia Mayo was playing in a horse act, although she was the straight woman, and not playing either end of the horse. The act itself was called "Pansy." (The Siren has no more information than that, nor does she want any.) Samuel Goldwyn swept Virginia Jones, who was performing under her brother-in-law's surname of Mayo, off to Hollywood to become the next Anna Sten.
From A. Scott Berg's definitive Goldwyn, which the Siren hopes you own:
[Goldwyn] provided her acting lessons, voice lessons, speech lessons, and dance lessons. Twice a week, Hollywood's leading charm coach, Eleanore King, instructed her in posture and appearance. A nutritionist put her on a diet. A masseuse "contoured" her face after Miss King pronounced Virginia Mayo's cheeks "too fat for screen work." Goldwyn himself called her every night at nine o'clock, inquiring if she was keeping up with her lessons and if she had brushed her hair one hundred strokes.
After six months of this regimen, Virginia Mayo had improved in every department. But one problem remained. Every time a motion picture camera turned her way, she froze.
Mayo had warmed up quite a bit by 1946. And by 1949, she was positively smokin'.
"Hotcha do, Countess?"
(To celebrate the real Cinco de Mayo, do read the wonderful Bobby Rivers on La Perla, the golden age of Mexican cinema, and the great cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, right here.)