Maila Nurmi, better known to horror and Plan 9 from Outer Space fans as Vampira, passed away early in the morning on January 10th, due to cardiac arrest.
Details of Vampira's life can be seen here; there is also a documentary, and a great page on Cult Sirens. Of course, for those of you interested in more on the Ed Wood years, there is Rudolph Grey's (out of print) Nightmare of Ecstasy.
My first exposure to Vampira was my first viewing of "Plan 9;" I had no idea how extensive her background was... TV horror host, inspiration to Elvira (see the links above for more on their feud), pin-up girl, friend to James Dean and Marylin Monroe... Vampira was Hollywood.
At B-Fest, the one feature film that plays every year is Plan 9 From Outer Space, the honored midnight show. The traditional Plan 9 showing has inspired many Rocky Horror-ish audience participation moments: every time the spaceships appear on screen, paper plates are thrown in the air (with sharpie-added wisenheimer comments). Appearances of Bela Lugosi on screen are met with cries of "Bela!", while his double is assaulted with "Not Bela!" Tor Johnson gets a hearty "Tor!" (Well, what else would you shout?) While Vampira is greeted with "Hot!" Oh, those B-Fest boys.
I'm not attending this year, but I hope that the B-Fest organizers will have some sort of tribute to Maila Nurmi, the influential woman that created so many laughs, cheers, and memories. Vampira has been the "mascot" of B-Fest for ages along with Bela and Tor, and is paid tribute by Mitch O'Connell in his fantastic poster and t-shirt artwork created for the fest. Now, with Nurmi's passing, the final member of the invading Plan 9 crew has left us. Rest in peace, Vampira.