The original long, cool horror hostess in a black dress

Long before Elvira was wishing her viewers “unpleasant dreams,” there was Vampira, TV’s original sexy horror hostess with an hourglass figure poured into a sleek black dress. She told her fans she gave “epitaphs, not autographs.” Played by Finnish-American actress Maila Nurmi, Vampira hosted the Vampira Show which originally ran on Los Angeles’ KABC TV from 1954-1955.

Plan 9 from Outer Space Lobby Card
Plan 9 from Outer Space lobby card

Nurmi’s character was further immortalized by her appearance in Ed Wood’s 1959 film, Plan 9 From Outer Space, known by fans and critics alike as the worst movie of its kind, ever made, which it’s why it became a cult classic. It was also touted as Bela Lugosi’s last film, which, technically, it was. Even though Vampira had no lines in the movie and just a few minutes of screen time, it’s her best (if not only) remembered film role. Above is a still from the movie. Oh, and Happy Halloween.

January 2008 Author’s Addendum: On January 10, 2008, just two months after this piece was published, Maila Nurmi passed away at her home in Hollywood at the age of 85. However, she will live on forever in the hearts of fans as her iconic and immortal character, Vampira.

Vampira's Headstone
Vampira’s headstone in the Griffith Lawn section of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery



About the author

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Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.

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