Thursday, November 25, 2010

Maila Nurmi was VAMPIRA

She signed it Kisses to Bill


 I knew Maila for many years when I lived in Hollywood. During the fifties, she had been associated with James Dean.  Maila was married at this particular time and was appearing on TV as Vampira. After Jimmy died, she was interviewed by numerous magazines, and was mentioned as Jimmy's girlfriend. Not true, but it got her publicity that followed her through until her recent death. And by the looks of the blogs now appearing about her. She lives on.




                                      


                                  Elvira never had the waistline Maila had.

I saw her on a re-run of the Hugh Hefner's Halloween party show. In a small segment, she was interviewed. Suddenly she let out a shrill scream. It surprised me and cracked me up. I never knew she had it in her. Cassandra Peterson, Elvira, sort of had a career similar to Maila. She had the female Vampire wardrobe, and Maila wanted to sue her. But, Maila had aged and didn't have the waste line she once had. Cassandra never had the small waist line that Maila had either. Although Maila was interviewed several times regarding suing Elvira, she didn't have money for an attorney but the Vampira look had also been taken from another Addams cartoon character anyway. She was happy with any publicity. She was offered a role to play Elvira's mother, but of course she didn't want that.

After Jimmy Dean died, she was in many magazines with stories about Jimmy, his ghost haunting her and other wild things. It made her more famous than the television show she had been on. She rode on Jimmy's publicity as many other Hollywood people had.

She told                                             
                               James Dean's Black Madonna
 I wonder if this was referring to Earth Kitt, Dean's friend? Eartha died in 2008. Maila made the cover.

Maila had been to a Hollywood premiere with Jack Simmons, who wanted to be in films too. She spotted Jimmy at the premiere and wanted to meet him. Jack had all ready known Jimmy. So, he arranged for Maila to meet Jimmy at a famous coffee spot called Googies. It was at Laurel Canyon and Sunset Boulevard next to Schwab's Drugstore. It was where Natalie Wood, Dennis Hopper, Perry Lopez (died in 2008), Nick Adams and many other wannabes met to talk about which studio was casting what picture.

After Jimmy died, Maila tried to make her relationship much more than it was. In actuality, she was married at that time. She merely met Jimmy, talked to him, and on occasion would be there when he came there on his motorcycle and they would gab for a while. Jack Simmons, later on, was Jimmy's room mate.

She worked in the retaurant on Heliotrope off melrose Avenue. 
Maila wasn't bad looking as she aged. This was taken at the Heliotrope restaurant.

I met her when she was working on Heliotrope at a restaurant off Melrose. She was living next door in a converted garage. She loved animals and she had dogs, cats and whatever else she could get her hands on. I guess you can imagine the living conditions. She didn't make much money but she had a free place to live and free food too. And although it was a small place, many actors and studio people would lunch there. The food was very good. The place looked like an over sized, immaculate, living room. It was a fun place to dine and of course the conversations with Maila were always interesting too.

She was destitute for the latter part of her life. She would occasionally be signing at autograph parties at the Holiday Inn in North Hollywood. Eventually, she made enough money to have a variety of photos developed to sell. She had a friend named Tomata Du Plenty (only in Hollywood), who drove her to the signings. I believe he started her web page called Vampira's Attic. But, he suddenly died at a young age and that left a void in her life.

Kenneth Kendall, known as "the" James Dean artist, had a memorial dinner for James Dean, yearly, at his home. And he would always invite Maila to be there. And she would get into conversations about her and Jimmy. Maila always seemed to get someone to drive her there.

I brought her to my apartment a few times and we watched movies, and popped popcorn. I also took her to a James Dean's fan's home for dinner and to meet Barry Blakeley and his girl friend Beryl. Barry is the one who phoned to tell me she had passed away. I lost my mother around the same time. She too, was 86 years old.

There was a Dean convention, called DeanCon in North Hollywood. I took her there as well as a James Dean look-alike. Maila answered a lot of questions regarding her association with Jimmy. She enjoyed herself, having a lot of attention. Other than the Ed Wood's film, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, I don't believe she appeared in any other film. But, her role as Vampira, brought her many fans, who still remembered her, probably moreso, as Jimmy Dean's friend, than her role. Of course anyone who has read James Dean's biographies are aware of Vampira. I found a photo that was supposed to be from a part she had in a movie, but I don't recall the name of it right now. It may be in the photo section of this blog, although I have put most of them here.

Population One may have never been released, or finished.
                                       
                                                      This is the photo. Looks like another scary film-smile!

She was still star struck and would often mention some actor or actress she had run into. John Savage was one of her favorites. She was hard to keep up with because she couldn't afford a telephone. She was fun and very friendly with me. I wrote an article on her for my newspaper, the Hollywood Star. As I age, most of the celebrities I knew from films, are passing away. Life can be so sad. But, it seems her memory lives on. She would like that.




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