I don’t read many biographies, but this one interested me because, come on, it’s Vampira. If you aren’t familiar with Vampira, well, here. She was literally the proto-Elvira (more on that in a bit). However, Maila was also the nexus of a certain part of late 40s/50s Hollywood, something I didn’t know at all.
- She was involved with Orson Welles shortly before he married Rita Hayworth and, allegedly had his child and gave him up for adoption. (I’ll note that there’s really no proof here regarding the kid.)
- Disney hired her to be the visual ‘source material’ for Maleficent in SLEEPING BEAUTY
- She had a very long, very complicated relationship with Marlon Brando
- She was thick-as-thieves with James Dean
- She struck up a friendship with, and maybe fucked, Elvis when he was in Vegas
- She and Anthony Perkins had an intense hot-and-cold friendship
- She wanted Patricia Morrison (SISTERS OF MERCY) to take up the role of Vampira when talk of restarting the Vampira show began
- Elvira is the direct result of Maila spurning the Vampira reboot. Maila was supposed to hand-pick the next Vampira and they chose Cassandra Peterson without consulting her, and Maila then refused to sign the contract allowing them to use the name, so she became Elvira instead.
I knew this was a bio from a blood relative, from Maila’s niece Sandra Niemi, so I was skeptical as to some of these stories which, admittedly come from Maila’s own pen, but uh, there are plenty of photos and pre-existing proof. Maila knew misfit talent when she saw it — herself being similarly minded. While the bio is a bit clunky, it’s stuffed full of stories that entertain and enthrall, and paint the picture of a very complex woman, a woman with a brilliantly creative, often hilariously filthy, mind. Sadly, she was often mercurial, and her luck was rotten and, despite everything she gave to the world and her friends, she often lived in poverty, because it’s fucking Hollywood.
I do want to underscore that, despite all of the stars that pop up, it’s very much a story about deviants and misfits trying to get by in Hollywood. It’s a classic Hollywood tale, but not the classic Hollywood tale most want to hear. But hey, if you’re a goth and you want to know where your media roots stem from, you should read it.