AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: The One and Only Vampira

Awesometoberfest 2019

Okay, I took last year off from doing AWESOME-tober-fest.  It was a nice break and I enjoyed reading other people’s Halloween countdowns without having to worry about doing my own.

Now, this year, I decided to come back.  I currently plan on doing updates every weekday in October, but if I miss one here or there, I’m sorry.  And this year, for the first time, I’m going to do a sequel to one of my previous themes.  I’m going back into the well and do Bloody Best of Fangoria ALL MONTH.  Articles, posters, covers, ads, all from the pages of the greatest of horror magazines, FANGORIA.

Should be a lot of fun, let’s get it started.

For this first week of AWESOME-tober-fest, I want to cover one of my favorite horror personalities, Elvira.  I discovered her within the pages of Fangoria and I want to take this week to celebrate the Mistress of the Dark.

BUT FIRST, before I get to Elvira, I want to showcase one of Elvira’s predecessors.  Back in the early 80s Fangoria did a series of interviews in successive issues talking about famous horror TV show hosts.  They were very prevalent, especially on local TV stations, in the 60s and 70s.  One of the interviews in this series was with Maila Nurmi, who portrayed Vampira.  Vampira was one of the very first TV horror hosts in the 50s.  She also was an actress and appeared in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Here’s the article:

Vampira 1 Vampira 2

I’m not going to lie, this is a *weird* interview. It’s ostensibly an interview with Nurmi about being Vampira, but it’s told almost stream of consciousness style by Nurmi, and it feels like it’s in character as Vampira. WEIRD.

We learn she originally dressed as Morticia Addams for a costume party and won first place. She was such a hit that a station manager wanted to hire her to liven up their late night movies. So she had to alter her costume a bit to differentiate it from Morticia and became Vampira. She went on the air in May 1954. And then, according to her in the article, she was off the air in December 1954. I guess she was too risque? Nurmi doesn’t really lay it all out nice and neat for you in the article.

Vampira 3 Vampira 4

What Nurmi *does* lay out all nice and neat for you in the article are her thoughts on Elvira. She said in 1981 she was in talks with the TV studio to train a new Vampira. Actually, she said the studio *insisted* that she play Vampira in a new show. Nurmi claims to have turned that down several times and said that she convinced them to let her find and train a new performer as Vampira. However, she claims, the TV station went behind her back and hired Cassandra Peterson and then created Elvira when she wouldn’t lease them the name Vampira. And then she makes it clear that she does *not* like Cassandra Peterson. As a person, or as a performer.

Fangoria, after printing Nurmi’s version of these events, then went to the TV station, KHJ-TV, and asked them their side. The program director, Walt Baker, said that yes, they did consult her for a new Vampira show. He said Ms Nurmi was to be a consultant, give them pictures, consult on constructing sets, and let them see any of the original Vampira scripts, but it was always up to the station to hire the new girl. Baker also said that he never intended Ms Nurmi to play Vampira. The person they hired was going to be the new Vampira and that Nurmi would have guest spots as Vampira’s mother.

So, as you can see, this was a pretty sticky, but interesting situation. And a few issues later, it came to a head based on the things Ms Nurmi said about Cassandra Peterson and Elvira.  Fangoria received a letter from Elvira herself. All it contained was a little poem directed at Ms Nurmi written in classic Elvira style.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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One Response to “AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: The One and Only Vampira”

  1. caffeinatedjoe Says:

    Elvira is the Mistress of the Dark, from my youth until… well, still going! As for Vampira, I only knew her after Ed Wood came out. Too bad it couldn’t have gone smoother, for whatever reason.

    Here’s to a fun month ahead!

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