Saturday, January 31, 2015

#89 Laya Raki

Laya Raki is our first dancer masquerading as an actress. Which, if you think about it, is not a bad strategy at all for B movie success. I mean, nobody’s here for their acting skills, right? So, why not dress in a super skimpy outfit and gyrate around suggestively in front of the camera? Speaking entirely as a B movie patron, I have no problem with this at all!

Embarrassing Real Name:  Brunhilde Jörns

Embarrassing Real Birthplace:  Calvörde, Germany (pop. 3,000)

Embarrassing Movies

  • In the Beginning Was Sin
  • Land of Fury
  • Savage Pampas
  • Danger Grows Wild
  • The Nylon Noose

Embarrassing Taglines:  As most of Laya’s movies were in German, IMDb doesn’t list a lot of taglines for her. I did find this great description however:

A company's stockholders hold their meeting at a lonely mansion. A mad doctor conducting experiments in the mansion starts to strangle them one at a time with a nylon noose. The survivors must figure out a way to stop him.

Embarrassing Characters

  • Halima
  • Ilonka
  • Lao Win Tan
  • Betta Dudoit
  • Kyro Caro

Whiffs of Scandal
  • Long history of popping out of dresses, swimsuits, etc.
  • On-screen nudity (quite a big deal in 1954)
  • Having a record banned (see below) because “her ecstatic moaning was imitating coitus”

Interesting Tidbits
  • 38-23-36
  • Was the daughter of two acrobats
  • Half German, half Indonesian
  • Stage name came from the German actress La Jana and the Turkish drink raki
  • Recorded two songs, "Faire l`amour" (“Making Love”) and "Oh Johnny hier nicht parken" (“Oh Johnny, don’t park here.”)
  • Was married to Australian actor Ron Randell for almost 60 years

Where can I learn more?

<#90          #89> 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

#90 Double Feature: Ann & Vicki* Michelle

* - author has her autograph

Sisters Ann and Vicki Michelle are our first double feature. And, interestingly, they couldn’t be less alike. Though they both starred in the early horror pic Virgin Witch together, Ann would stay in the genre (and add a little soft porn in for good measure) and Vicki would go the comedy route.

Sounds like Vicki may have made the better choice, though, as she’s the much better known of the two. You’re probably familiar with her from her role as the ditzy French sexpot Yvette Carte-Blanche from the very popular BBC series ‘Allo ‘Allo (if you’re a Brit who liked wink-wink-nudge-nudge TV back in the ‘80s, that is).


Vicky Ann
Embarrassing Real Name Michelle Vicki Nathan Ann Nathan
Embarrassing Real Birthplace Chigwell (Essex, UK) Chigwell (Essex, UK)
Embarassing Movies
  • Queen Kong
  • Virgin Witch
  • C.O.O.L.I.O Time Traveler Gangster

  • Mistress Pamela
  • Virgin Witch
  • Young Lady Chatterley
  • Psychomania (AKA The Death Wheelers)
Embarrassing Taglines Doomed to Guard the Gates of Hell Forever
  • An Ancient Evil is Unleashed ... And It Wants Revenge!
  • Motorcycle Maniacs on Wheels
  • Their beautiful bodies defiled by the ultimate immoral atrocity!
  • Ride with the Living Dead!
Embarrassing Characters
  • Nurse
  • Second Maid
  • Bird (as in "girl")
  • Yvette Carte-Blanche

  • Abanaki
  • First Communist Girl
  • Coke-Eyed Laura
  • Scarth Dare
Whiffs of Scandal Because of Ann’s full frontal nudity in Virgin Witch, the film had trouble passing the censors
Interesting Tidbits
  • Mother Joan and daughter Louise have also acted
  • Was awarded an MBE for charity

  • Had Elke Sommer as a babysitter (as, of course, did Vicki)
  • Debuted on the stage at age 4
  • Interests include squash and bowling
Screen Credits 37 22
Where Can I Learn More?


<#91          #89>

Saturday, January 17, 2015

#91 Susan Cabot

Susan Cabot’s life reads like a B movie. Born into a Russian-Jewish family, she was soon shuttled off to no less than 14 foster homes. As an adult, she had a child with her second husband, but there were rumors that the boy was not his (and that the real father was King Hussein of Jordan!). The boy, who suffered from dwarfism and psychological problems, would later beat his mother to death with a weightlifting bar. Tragically, I am not making any of this up.

Embarrassing Real Name:  Harriett Shapiro

Cheesy Pageant Titles:  Miss Motion Picture Sweater Girl of 1951 (United Outerwear Foundation)

Embarrassing Movies

  • Kiss of Death
  • The Wasp Woman *
  • Fort Massacre
  • The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent *
* - author has seen

Embarrassing Taglines
  • The Shock-by-Shock Confessions of a SORORITY GIRL! Smart... Pretty... And All Bad!
  • Army of HEADHUNTERS led by a lost G.I.!
  • Strong men forced to satisfy a passion no human knows.
  • Fabulous! Spectacular! Terrifying! The raw courage of women without men lost in a fantastic Hell-on-Earth!

Embarrassing Characters
  • Tala
  • Nono
  • Moana
  • Monaseetah

Unlikely Spouses & Boyfriends
  • Sal Mineo
  • Desi Arnaz
  • Marlon Brando
  • Roger Corman
  • Rock Hudson
  • Red Buttons
  • Princes Kaze and Mir Kashani (of Iran)
  • King Hussein of Jordan

Whiffs of Scandal
  • Married at age 17
  • Psychological issues
  • Lived with her son (see above) as a recluse and hoarder
  • Originally buried in an unmarked grave

Interesting Tidbits
  • Was a mere 5'
  • Had a scholarship to study opera at La Scala but couldn’t come up with the money to get to Europe
  • Once worked as an illustrator for children’s books

Where can I learn more?

French maid? Chef?  Very specific sexual fantasy?

<#92          #90> 

Friday, January 9, 2015

#92 Linda Christian

Linda Christian looked like a super-model, but actually didn’t get into that many movies – and most of those were B’s anyway. She did, though, notch an interesting combination of firsts and lasts. In particular, she was the first Bond girl and was in the last Tarzan flick.

Okay, okay, the Bond thing was a TV adaption of Casino Royale (and on some series named Climax! which I never heard of). The Tarzan thing did have Johnny Weissmuller in it though. Unfortunately, someone other than Linda played Jane.

Ms. Christian was much more famous for her off-screen exploits, especially her many affairs and her jet-setting lifestyle. All in all, she was more famous for being famous than anything else.

Embarrassing Real Name:  Blanca Welter

Unusual Real Birthplace:  Tampico, Mexico

Cheesy Pageant Titles:  Azalea Queen

Embarrassing Movies
  • Tarzan and the Mermaids
  • Passport for a Corpse
  • The Devil’s Hand *
  • Slaves of Babylon
  • Tormenta
* - author has seen

Embarrassing Taglines

  • NEVER-BEFORE ... Tarzan's undersea death-battle with a giant octopus!
All from Tarzan and the Mermaids, BTW

Embarrassing Characters
  • Mignonette Chappuis
  • Princess Panthea
  • Hine Moa

Shortest Marriage:  Less than a year

Unlikely Spouses & Boyfriends
  • Errol Flynn
  • Tyrone Power
  • Glenn Ford
  • Diego Rivera
  • Various playboys, millionaires, bullfighters, race car drivers, etc.

Whiffs of Scandal:  
  • Sued by a former boyfriend who wanted his $1M worth of jewels back
  • Many very public affairs
  • "Her pet Chihuahua, jealous over the missing attention he receives over the bullfighters, jumps to his death from her terrace" (Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen)

Interesting Tidbits
  • Half Dutch, half Mexican
  • Lived all over the world growing up, and as a result spoke French, German, Dutch, Spanish, English, and Italian (she called herself "sexilingual")
  • Attended medical school in then British Palestine
  • Once worked as a plastic surgeon’s assistant
  • Stage name was coined by lover Errol Flynn
  • Nickname was “The Anatomic Bomb”

Where can I learn more?

Ooh la la!

<#93           #91>

Saturday, January 3, 2015

#93 Beverly Garland *

* - author has her autograph

Beverly Garland retired with an incredible 191 credits, over a 54-year career. Though she started out with a fair amount of grade Z stuff (she was a favorite of Roger Corman), she eventually focused almost totally on TV.

There, Beverly appeared on shows as diverse as The Lone Ranger, Kung Fu, The Twilight Zone, Charlie’s Angels, Friends, and Love American Style. Her specialty, though, seemed to be moms. In fact, she’s probably best known for being Fred MacMurray’s second wife on My Three Sons.

Returning to the movies, I really like this quote of hers on acting in B’s in general and being a scream queen in particular:

You don't have to act in these pictures. All you have to do is possess a good pair of lungs. I can scream with more variations from shrill to vibrato than any other girl in pictures.

Embarrassing Real Name: Beverly Fessenden

Embarrassing Movies

  • Curucu, Beast of the Amazon
  • The Neanderthal Man *
  • Swamp Women *
  • The Alligator People *
  • Not of This Earth *
  • It Conquered the World *
* - author has seen

Embarrassing Taglines

  • Temptation and terror ... in a savage land of wild desire!
  • Flaming passions against a background of weird adventure!

Embarrassing Characters

  • Mauvis Meade
  • Coco LaSalle
  • Cookie LaRue
  • Calliope Catesby
  • Smudgeface WAC
  • Edgar the Swamp Witch

Number of Marriages: 3

Shortest Marriage: 4 months

Unlikely Spouses & Boyfriends: Roger Corman

Interesting Tidbits

  • Owned and operated Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn, in L.A.
  • Her last husband had the wonderful name of Filmore Pajeau Crank
  • Retired at age 77

Where can I learn more?

Beverly and friend

<#94          #92>