Maila Nurmi (December 21, 1921 - January 10, 2008)
official site - http://www.vampirasattic.com/
film site http://www.vampirathemovie.com/
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
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
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
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
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