Written by: Marissa Ritter (IG: @Maritter13)
Edited by: Grave Reviews Staff
Vampira, a ghoulish, sexy character from the 1950s show, The Vampira Show. The Vampira Show was a TV Series that featured horror movies with the host of the show, Vampira. The character, played by Maila Syrianiem (later referred to as Maila Nurmi), was very unique for her time, and in a league of her own. She was born to Finnish immigrants, Sophia and Oni Syrianiem, on December 11, 1922 in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
The Vampira Show Inspired The Modern Day “Goth” Lifestyle
My love for Vampira started in my late teens. With her long black hair, fair but flawless skin, and dark rouged lips enamored me from the first time I saw her. Vampira will forever be an inspiration for me, both stylistically and aesthetically. Arguably, had it not been for Maila’s character, shows such as Elvira’s Movie Macabre (1981) would not have been created.
Maila moved to Hollywood, California as a young woman to pursue a career in modeling in the 1950’s. She was known as one of the top pin-up girls in America at that time as well. After her modeling success, she pursued a career in show business. At that point, Maila relocated to New York City, which would later birth her Vampira character. She was discovered by the TV producer Hunt Stromberg Jr, at a masquerade in 1953. Dressed as Morticia Addams, it caught his eye and he was intrigued. He offered her a job hosting horror movies on LA TV’s late night station KABC TV. As a result, in 1954, the short segment was called The Vampira show and that’s where it all began.
Maila’s career was short lived and is known as the one that got away. The Vampira Show aired approximately 50 episodes but abruptly ended after one year of airing in April of 1955 due to contractual disputes. Maila later acted in films such as the cult classic Plan 9 From Outer Space along with a few other films and various TV appearances. In Maila’s personal life, she had a brief relationship with the heart-throb, James Dean, not long before his tragic death. It was also rumored that Elvis fancied her also. Her mysterious charm and beauty seemed to lure a lot of men in her life. Maila had a few marriages, but all ended in divorce, and had no children. She later in the 1980s/ 90s owned a successful jewelry boutique in Hollywood, CA.
Even after her in death in early 2008, the character Vampira is still talked about and admired. It seems like some of the best people in the world, aren’t really known until after they’re gone. In my opinion, I feel she was not as appreciated as she should have been.
There is a fan club dedicated to her called The Official Vampira Club. The owner of the fan club is about to release a book with a lot of her diary entries, and I can’t wait to read it. To this day, I see so many women who are inspired by Vampira. Her legacy will live on forever, and she will never be forgotten.
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