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January 18th, 2008

FAREWELL VAMPIRA!

 CHEESE, WOOD, VAMPIRA
Maila Nurmi (December 21, 1921 - January 10, 2008)
official site - http://www.vampirasattic.com/
film site http://www.vampirathemovie.com/
Wiki -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maila_Nurmi

I first heard of her in early issues of Forest J. Ackerman's FAMOUS MONSTERS, in which she was going along with the Ed Wood gag and saying how glad she was to have worked with Bela, who, as the song says, was dead.  Or was it Ackerman's forgotten rival FAMOUS MONSTERS?  No matter.  What a glorious era, and, BRW, when I saw Plan 9 new, I thought it was serious science fiction.  

Come to think of it, I still do. TAG

Vampira, A Role Model For Some of Us!
by Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D.

Flowing locks of raven hair! A skin-tight black gown!

Long, sharp, threatening fingernails! Piercing eyes

capped by thin black brows! These were the tools that

TV legend Vampira employed to both terrify and engage

late night TV audiences of the 1950s!

Simultaneously minacious and alluring, Vampira drew

viewers who might not otherwise tune into the low-

budget horror flicks she was hostessing. Indeed, she

was a captivating pioneer in this limited niche,

being the very first to present such films on the

little silver screen. And, she was an inspiration to

other such hosts who would follow in her footsteps,

including yours truly. Sadly, she passed away this

past Thursday, January 10, in her sleep at age 86.

While, unfortunately, none of Vampira's TV hosting

segments was preserved on film (as far as I know),

she can be seen (although never heard) in her Vampira

role as Bela Lugosi's dead wife throughout Ed Wood's

much-maligned sci-fi entry, "Plan 9 From Outer

Space."

Vampira was born Maila Syrjaniemi in Petsamo, Finland

back on December 11, 1921. That surname was later

truncated to Nurmi. Indeed, she was the niece of the

renowned multiple Olympic medal runner Paavo Nurmi.

She arrived in the U.S. as an infant, and travelled

around the country as her father lectured on

temperance.

As an adult, she was performing in Mike Todd's "Spook

Scandals" when celebrated director Howard Hawks

caught sight of the beautiful blonde, and cast her in

the cinematic version of the Russisan novel,

"Dreadful Hollow." However, Nurmi walked out on her

contract after being utterly disillusioned by

repeated production delays. She then tried modelling

and dancing, including a long stint with Earl

Carroll's revues.

Her breakthrough came when, for a masquerade

competition, she costumed herself in the mode of

Charles Addams' Morticia cartoon character. Not only

did she win 1st prize, but also landed a contract

with the local L.A. ABC affiliate channel 7 for a

late night hosting gig for the 1954-55 season.

Impressively, she was nominated for an Emmy for "Most

Outstanding Female Personality, and was profiled in

such mags as "TV Guide," "Newsweek," and "Life." Fan

clubs sprung up all over the globe as she became a

most recognizable figure, making guest appearance at

store openings and judging contests. She was dubbed

the "Queen of Horror," with songs composed to honor

her!

Bela Lugosi was also a fan, and was delighted when

she joined him in "Plan 9." Tragically, he died two

weeks into production.

Vampira's fame quickly expired after that, with only

a few scant film roles, such as in 1959's "Beat

Generation" and 1960's "Sex Kittens Go To college.'

She did engage in painting, creating some "Vampira"

portraits, and made a final screen appearance in

1998's "I Woke Up Early The Day I Died." And Nurmi

made some news when she sued Cassandra Peterson,

asserting that her "Elvira" characterization was a

rip off of "Vampira." 




    LET US NOT LOOK BACK IN ANGORA

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