Tuesday, January 15, 2008

RIP Vampira (Maila Nurmi)

Vampira Coffin
Originally uploaded by SpiceLux
Hollywood has lost another legend. Maila Nurmi, who created the character, Vampira, passed away in her sleep yesterday at the age of 86.

She was born Maila Elizabeth Syrjäniemi on December 21, 1921, in Petsamo, Finland - now Pechenga, Russia. She claimed to be the niece of the Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi, who began setting long-distance running world records in 1921, the year of her birth.

Syrjäniemi moved to Ohio when she was two years old and grew up in Ashtabula -one of the largest Finnish-American communities in the United States.

Maila changed her name at age 17 when she headed west to Los Angeles and landed modeling work with pin-up maestros Alberto Vargas and Man Ray.

Nurmi shared a similar path as struggling yet stunning actresses (early on) Julie Newmar, Tina Louise who all posed for pin-up photos in dozens of men's magazines.

In the 1950s she created the character of Vampira, popular for both films and as a television host.

In 2006, Nurmi was the subject of a documentary called "Vampira: The Movie." The documentary, directed by Kevin Sean Michaels, which noted that her stylized character set the standard for many horror hostesses, including Cassandra Peterson's "Elvira." Nurmi actually sued Cassandra Peterson, the actress and the case was dismissed when Nurmi was allegedly unable to pay for legal expenses.

Even animators tipped their hats to her in cartoon characters and graphic novels.

Source: Monsters and Critics

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