Saturday, January 12, 2008
R.I.P. Vampira (1921-2008)
A true horror / genre icon has passed, as former television horror host Vampira (aka Maila Nurmi) shrugged off this mortal coil on January 10. A Los Angeles TV station aired her show starting in 1955, with her introducing horror films in a comic manner. The show became a local hit and the trend caught on, and soon local stations across the country began airing their own versions of the show, always hosted by a ghoulish/comic character with a title like 'Shock Theatre" and so forth. These type of shows persisted and were common in most cities until about the mid-80's. She was the first television horror host (a genre unto itself, and one that we here at blogfoot revere), and Elvira should have been sending her weekly royalty checks.
Vampira and the inimitable Tor Johnson lurk amongst cardboard scenery
But that's not all. She was also a featured player in maestro Ed Wood Jr's magnum opus "Plan 9 Nine from Outer Space", generally acknowledged as one of the worst films of all time (I dispute this, because the film is funny and entertaining, so how can it be bad?). She was also in "Sex Kittens Go To College", which also featured Mamie Van Doren and no less than Elektro, one of the world's first robots built by the Westinghouse corporation for the World's Fair way back in 1939. In the movie Elektro played a robot named "Thinko," and was hailed by critics for his convincing portrayal of a large metal humanoid thing that moved slowly and stiffly.
But I digress. She also dated Orson Welles, who declared, upon seeing her nude, that she had a "magnificent carcass." See here:
And here's a brief clip from her show:
Parties interested into more of a glimpse into her world should also check out Tim Burton's awesome 1994 sorta-biopic "Ed Wood." Farewell, madam!