Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Fabelous Maila Nurmi A.K.A Vampira

Finish Maila Nurmi, born in 1922, imigrated to the USA with her family when she was two years old. She grew up in Ohio and later Oregon, before she moved to Los Angeles. She started out as a hot, blond, pinup model in men's magazines, had some smaller parts in a few movies, worked as a chorus line dancer at the Florentine Gardens along with famous stripper Lili St. Cyr, and even was a show girl for Mae West before she fired her for upstaging her.. Before landing the role as Vampira, she worked as a hat-check girl in a cloakroom on Hollywood's Sunset Strip.

Maila was spotted by a television producer one night, at a high profile Hollywood costume party in 1953. She was wearing a costume inspiered by Morticia in the cartoons of Charles Addams. He wanted Maila to host horror movies in her own show for KABC_TV. She was aired as the first female horror movie host in 1954, on The Vampira Show! The rest is history as they say. She instantly became a sensation and national icon, even though the show was only on local in LA. She was only aired on television for one year, but made a great impact while she was. She was voted by the NATAS as the Most Outstanding Female Personality of 1954.

Vampira and all her little quirks was created by Maila, her husband, a film and television writer came up with the name.. Later on the television station wanted to buy the rights to the character and likeness of Vampira from Maila. She on the other hand refused and got fired, she might even have been black listed.. She later appeared in a few smaller productions, and in Ed Wood's camp classic, Plan 9 From Outer Space, as a Vampira-like zombie.

Maila was best friends with James Dean in the early 50's, till he passed away. they spent time together at Googie's coffee shop on the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. He even appeared on The Vampira Show in a small bit. Vampira dressed as a librarian, rapping his fingers with a ruler and stating that he was a "very naughty boy"...

"She often said that Dean and herself had a primal understanding of each other, like two aliens somehow stranded on earth, the only beings here that could communicate in the same language". ~ Sid Terror

Nurmi opened Vampira's Attic in the early 60's, an antiques boutique on Melrose Avenue. She also made  jewelry and clothing whitch she sold to the celebs..

In 1988 Cassandra Peterson became Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark. A horror host which was extremely influenced by The Vampira Show.. Maila filed a law suit against her for steeling her character, she claimed there was 150 simularities, but Cassandra retained the rights to Elvira. The show went national and she became synonymous with Halloween, and a very rich woman...

On January 10. 2008, Nurmi passed away of natural causes, 86 years old, in her home in north Hollywood..

I think it's sad to learn how the television company screwed Maila over, wanting to own the rights to her character Vampira, and how they later found a way to do so with the new television host Elvira. Even if she is a true icon in the horror genre and still has many fans out there. Vampira is for many a lost chapter in the book, I think most people don't even know about Vampira. I must admit that I hadn't really either before the ghastly gal poll, but I had to do some research in order to get it together. For most people out there, Elvira is the one that they think of when they hear female television horror host.. Elvira gave new life to the character and brought it out to a new generation. Today the persona of Vampira lives on with every one of us horror loving creatures out there. If not as Vampira herself, as Elvira or even as Morticia Addams and Lily Munster. Who also was inspired by the first female television horror host, Vampira A.K.A Maila Nurmi...

(All information found online, various sources).


  1. I see that not only quoted me, but also used one of my photos without securing my permission for either. :(

    The photo of James Dean and Vampira together on the set of her show is a fake... I know this because I made it myself in photoshop, yet there it is being passed off as the real deal. Unfortunately, I should have watermarked it with my name and maybe some other info. I guess that is considered my bad when other people swipe and use it as real and as a film historian it kind of saddens me that inaccuracy is being spread.

    Horrorwood, California.

    1. Dear Sid,

      I want you to know that I’m really sorry, that I used one of your photos without your permission. I always try to find the source of the photos that I use in my posts. As long as I see a source, I’m careful to add the name. Or contact the person, to ask for permission.. Since I didn’t add you as the source, I’m thinking it must be a photo I found online, thinking it was real. I totally understand that this saddens you, as it’s not even correct.. Totally my bad:/ I removed the photo from the post, as soon as I read your comment. Hope you can forgive me, as it was never my intention to do any harm. When it come to the content of the post, this is a post I wrote several years ago. I remember I turned every stone online, to find information about Maila and her life. If I’ve been sloppy and happened to quote you somewhere, I’m truly sorry for this. I’ll add your name as source of information. Please me know where I quoted you and I’ll be more than happy to add your name. I could also remove it, if you rather have me doing that. In the end, I want you to know that I’m a big fan of Maila Nurmi and find her very fascinating, intriguing and so ahead of her times.. She is such a beautiful and inspiring lady. This was a post I made of love, to the woman Maila, her work and life. I’m sorry and sad that I have hurt your feelings and hope I can make it right again..

      Best regards,
      Scary Mary

    2. I had a look through my post and see that I already have added your name to the quote.. I can remove the quote, if you like?


Leave me a scream, if you're peeking in..