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Maila Nurmi, the beautiful and sheltered daughter of Finnish immigrants, stepped off the bus in 1941 Los Angeles intent on finding fame and fortune. She found men eager to take advantage of her innocence and beauty but was determined to find success and love. Her inspired design and portrayal of a vampire won a costume contest that lead to a small role on the Red Skelton show which grew into a persona that brought her the notoriety she desired yet trapped her in a character she could never truly escape.
This is Malia’s story. Her diaries, notes, and ephemera and family stories bring new insights to her relationships with Orson Welles, James Dean, and Marlon Brando. Sandra Niemi―Malia’s niece―fills in the nuances of her life prior to fame and her struggles after the limelight faded and she found a new community within the burgeoning Los Angeles punk scene who embraced her as their own. , Includes rare photographs.
From the Publisher
“Maila pulled a pair of silk hose from her handbag and waved them in the air. When she put them on, there were runs in them, and I told her it was a shame they were ruined. But she didn’t care. She took something—it must have been a pencil—and poked holes in them until they were shredded. Then she said, ‘Look, Leg Lace!’
“I was somewhat taken aback by [Vargas’] almost clinical studio on Westwood Boulevard. It looked more like a surgical theater than an artist’s den. Vargas slicked back his slightly receding hair, trimmed his mustache to a thin line, & wore his immaculate shirt starched. His career was in an inexplicable lull at that moment—probably the only time it ever was. As with Bernard, I wore a bikini under my coat, but
when I removed it, he nodded approvingly & called in his wife.“
“She rented an Indian movie wig from Max Factor’s Hollywood studio and bought a remnant of black rayon fabric. A pattern was unnecessary—Maila visualized the dress perfectly, sketching, then transferring the image onto newspaper. Then, piece by piece, she cut out her pattern with manicure scissors and hand-stitched her costume together.”
“So then I thought what about a sexy vampire…I could be a sexy vampire pondering death in all sorts of crazy and urbane ways. The taxes? I’d leave those up to the Republicans.”
Glamour Ghoul: The Passions and Pain of the Real Vampira, Maila Nurmi
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