TV personality and actress Maila Nurmi, better known to horror buffs as Ed Wood's Vampira, has passed away at aged 86, according to ShockTillYouDrop. With her coal-black hair and ghostly pale skin, Vampira became a cult sensation in the 1950s as she introduced films on The Vampira Show and interviewed guests. As a sort of pioneer of horror-comedy, Nurmi would encourage those she interviewed to talk to her pet spider or have them sign an epitaph instead of an autograph, things like that. Nurmi's persona of Vampira would reach its apex when Ed Wood cast her to essentially play the same character -- "vampire girl" -- in his infamous flop Plan 9 from Outer Space. The persona she created would also be made fresh for a new generation when Lisa Marie put her stamp on the character in Tim Burton's 1994 semi-classic Ed Wood. Best line: "I've got real offers from real studios, buddy -- I don't need to b**w some dentist for a part."
If you're interested in reading up about Nurmi's life, you'll find a lot to get into -- as a teenager she was a model for Man Ray as well as a pin-up girl for men's magazines. As Vampira, she was actually quite a success for a time and was nominated for an Emmy at one point and also seems to have had a fling with James Dean shortly before his untimely death. In later life she opened an antiques store and also suffered a number of personal tragedies including being burned in a fire. She also feuded with and sued Cassandra Peterson -- TV's Elvira -- who she accused of stealing her act.