Tuesday, April 07, 2015
Vampira and the image of the forbidden
Nurmi had been influenced by Bizarre magazine, which showed bondage and women as dominatrices. According to Poole’s book, Nurmi patterned her character after such images. Vampira probably owed something to Chas Addams, too. The mom in his cartoons looked much like a vampire. (Later, on television she would go by the name of “Morticia Addams,” and her image forever set by the beauty of actress Carolyn Jones. There was more than a little Vampira in Morticia.)
Little of Vampira’s television program survives. Apparently it wasn’t kinescoped. It lasted a year and was abruptly cancelled. Nurmi ended up in scandal magazines, linked, rightly or wrongly, with actor James Dean, by then deceased. In her sixties Nurmi sued actress Cassandra Petersen over the character, Elvira, but lost. What remains of Nurmi on film is Plan 9 From Outer Space, in an unspeaking part.
Life did a short article on Vampira during the heyday of her television show. It appeared in the June 14, 1954 issue.
Copyright © 1954 Time-Life