Maila Nurmi, the lady who starred as “Vampira” on television in the 1950’s and who helped create the Goth-look, as well as one of the early pioneers for the fright-night venue on television has died at the grand old age of 85.
Nurmi created Vampira as her gimmick character so that she could host her horror movie show on KABC TV in LA as early as 1954. Her “The Vampira Show” only lasted one season but the character sparked cult-classic status.
She was the first to go gothic by wearing slinky, not-so-modest black dresses and fishnet stockings with overdone dark mascara around her eyes, and even though television was black and white only, she packed on the blood-red lipstick, which gave her that eerie, yet alluring look that others, like Elvira would copy years later. She was also the inspiration for another famous TV role, that of Morticia Addams from “The Addams Family.” Nurmi even filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the actress Cassandra Peterson, who portrayed Elvira, for pirating her character. The $10 million dollar lawsuit was eventually dismissed from the courts.
“There is no Elvira. There’s only a pirated Vampira,” she once told the Associated Press. “Cassandra Peterson slavishly copied my product and made a fortune. America has been duped.”
Nurmi appeared in a few films. Her most recognized and important role as Vampira ended up being on what is considered the worst film in movie-making history, Ed Wood’s 1959 UFO feature “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” That movie is now considered a classic in B-Movie filmmaking.