Maila Nurmi "Vampira" Tribute

TRIBUTE: Maila Nurmi aka Vampira

Maila Nurmi circa 1947Malia Nurmi, born Maila Elizabeth Syrjäniemi, is best known for her signature character Vampira, the first television horror host. Although her show only ran for one year, she was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1954 for “Most Outstanding Female Personality” and paved the way for every television (and now Internet) horror host that followed.

Malia was born December 11, 1922, in Petsamo, Finland, and found her way across the US from Massachusetts to Ohio and Oregon before moving to Hollywood in 1940 to break into acting. By 1944, she was in New York and performing in Spook Scandals on Broadway. Over the next few years, she had a variety of jobs before earning her first film role (uncredited) in If Winter Comes in 1947. After a couple of television and film roles, she attended a masquerade in a costume inspired by Morticia from Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons. Not only did her tight black dress, long dark fingernails, and heavy makeup win her best costume, it also got her noticed by producer Hunt Stromberg, who tracked her down and convinced her to become the beloved horror heroine we all know as Vampira.

Maila Nurmi as Vampira in Plan 9 from Outer SpaceIn spite of the favorable reception The Vampira Show received, it was canceled after one season, but Nurmi retained the rights to the character – a savvy move to say the least. Nevertheless, the public still wanted more, and she continued to appear on TV and in films as Vampira, most notably in Ed Wood’s 1959 sci-fi horror flick Plan 9 from Outer Space, and, rarely, as Malia Nurmi. By the early 60s, however, work became scarce, and she dropped off of the screen for two decades. In 1986, she appeared in Population: 1 and then disappeared for another decade before appearing on Horror Kung-Fu Theater. After this, she did but a handful of films before her death in 2008.

Maila Nurmi as Vampira

Though her film and television appearances are few, her influence on horror and horror hosting is undeniable and still evident to this day.

Thank you, Malia Nurmi aka Vampira, for everything.

Grave of Maila Nurmi "Vampira" / Image: Arthur Dark

11 December 1922 (Petsamo, Finland) – 10 January 2008 (Los Angeles, California, USA) / Image: Arthur Dark

Posted by Alan Smithee

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