Malla Nurmi
Below is a complete filmography (list of movies she's appeared in) for Malla Nurmi . If you have any corrections or additions, please email us at We'd also be interested in any trivia or other information you have.
I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998)
[ Christina Ricci ][ Tara Reid ][ Nicolette Sheridan ][ Summer Phoenix ][ Kathleen Robertson ]
Dry (1996)
Population One (1986)
The Magic Sword (1962)
Sex Kittens Go to College (1960)
[ Tuesday Weld ][ Mamie Van-Doren ]
I Passed for White (1960)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
The Beat Generation (1959)
[ Mamie Van-Doren ][ Irish McCalla ][ Gina Adamson ]
The Big Operator (1959)
[ Mamie Van-Doren ][ Ziva Rodann ]
Too Much, Too Soon (1958)
[ Dorothy Malone ]
If Winter Comes (1947)
[ Angela Lansbury ][ Janet Leigh ][ Deborah Kerr ] 100 Hot DVDs

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Ron Perlman
Billy Zane
John Ritter
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Andrew McCarthy
Mickey Rooney
Errol Flynn
Will Patton
John Williams
Rick Schroder
Richard Kiel
Bela Lugosi
Bud Cort
Edward D. Wood Jr.
Steven Weber
Abraham Benrubi


The original glamour ghoul herself, "Vampira," of late night 50s TV, was actually born Maila Syrjäniemi (later changed to the easier surname Nurmi) on December 11, 1921, in Petsamo, Finland. Her uncle was the multiple Olympic medal runner Paavo Nurmi. Maila arrived in the United States with her family as a baby and lived a rather nomadic existence at first as her father was a writer who lectured on temperance.It was director Howard Hawks, of all people, who discovered Maila while she was performing in Michael Todd's Grand Guignol midnight show "Spook Scandals." Hawks escorted the lovely blonde beauty to Hollywood with the hopes of grooming her into the next Lauren Bacall. Cast in the film version of the Russian novel "Dreadful Hollow," the project was put on hold so many times that Maila walked out of her contract in frustration. She became a cheesecake model and an Earl Carroll dancer for several years in his revues, sharing a chorus line at one time with future burlesque stripper Lili St. Cyr.Married at the time to child actor-turned-screenwriter Dean Riesner, she came up with the idea of "Vampira" at a masquerade contest where she based her costume on Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. Heavily painted up with long fingernails, a mane of raven-colored hair, and slim-waisted black attire, the Morticia gimmick won the best costume award that night...and more. She caught the attention of local TV and was placed under contract to Channel 7 in Hollywood to see if she could encourage late night viewers to stay up and watch its regular programming of cheapjack horror schlock. The macabre madam was a genuine hit (for one season, at least, in 1954-1955), adding a sexy nuance and silly double entendres to her campy horror set. She earned an Emmy nomination in 1954 for "Most Outstanding Female Personality." Fan clubs sprouted up all over the world. She appeared in "Life," "TV Guide" and "Newsweek" magazine articles, and could be seen around and about town and in Las Vegas judging contests and making variety special appearances. Songs were written about the "Queen of Horror." She even appeared with arms outstretched and ghoulishly attired in the worst cinematic turkey of all time, Edward D. Wood Jr.'s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), as Bela Lugosi's zombie-like mate, for which she is infamously associated. Lugosi actually was a fan of hers and had always wanted to work with her. Wood shot some footage of her years later as a tribute to Lugosi (he died in 1956 during filming) and added it before the film's release.By the late 50s, Maila's extended "15 minutes" of fame was over. With her career at stake (pun intended), she stretched things out with haphazard appearances in abysmal movies [The Beat Generation (1959); Sex Kittens Go to College (1960)] before closing the lid permanently on "Vampira." In later years, Maila divorced her writer/husband and became passionately involved in animal protection rights. A painter on the sly, she created some "Vampira" portraits that became a collector's item. Living very modestly in Southern California, she did appear in a tiny gag cameo in the film I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998).

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