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The Baltimore Sun

Vampira actress Maila Nurmi, Jan. 10

Vampira actress Maila Nurmi, Jan. 10 Actress Maila Nurmi, who created the cult character Vampira and hosted late-night fright films on L.A. TV in the 1950s, was found dead in her Hollywood home on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. She was believed to be 85. Born Maila Syrjäniemi in Finland, Nurmi immigrated to the United States when she was a toddler. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting in her teens. In 1953, she attended a Hollywood ball dressed as a ghoul. Her costume was judged the best at the ball, and within months she had a job as hostess of a late-night horror show. During the show, her alter ego played with a pet tarantula, gave gruesome recipes for vampire cocktails and bathed in a boiling caldron and offered double-entendres and the requisite blood-chilling scream. In 1955, her show was canceled. She went on to star in Plan 9 From Outer Space, a zombie movie that has been called the worst movie ever made. Critics and B-movie buffs said the Vampira persona pioneered the spooky-yet-sexy goth aesthetic, predated the popular Elvira and and is thought to have inspired the vampish Morticia Addams on The Addams Family. This photo was taken in 1954. Los Angeles Times, file