Monday, June 16, 2014

Eye on Celebrities - Vampira, Maila Nurmi, a Child of Ashtabula, and Rayelan Allen, A Retiree of Ashtabula

In pursuit of interesting individuals who lived in Ashtabula we found the list below, available on the Wikipedia. After a diligent search we had to conclude Ashtabula tends to produce people about whom there is little gossip and scandal, a condition now relieved in some part by the relocation of our previously featured celebrity, Rayelan Allen, AKA Darlene Rae Smith, Raye Smith, etc.

But then we chanced upon two names with some history in the Entertainment Industry, including Maila Nurmi, known to posterity as Vampira.

This interesting development came into her life while she was studying acting in New York City. During this time she reportedly played a vampire in Mike Todd's NYC show,  "Spook Scandals."But more vampiric fame was yet to come.  

This persona, developed by Maila, lasted for 50 years as she was nominated for an Emmy for her role as a TV program hostess for KABC (Channel 7) in Los Angeles.

But she was raised in Ashtabula, having immigrated with her family to the town from her native Finland in 1924 when she was two.

After her training in New York she and a group of friends headed West to Hollywood where she found work as a pinup model and high-kicking showgirl at Florentine Gardens and Earl Carroll's Theatre (now Nickelodeon Studios - on Sunset Blvd). 

In 1953 Nurmi chose a tight-fitting black dress for a masquerade ball. The dress is said to have been inspired by Charles Addams' New Yorker magazine drawings.

She won first prize. Soon, her time in the lime light began as a KABC producer, who was looking for a late-night hostess who could entertain watchers with brief skits while introducing old horror films, newly syndicated for television, was being planned.

The Vampira Show made its show business debut on television on April 30, 1954.

Nurmi was an instant hit. Her persona as a funny, pun-loving deathly sexpot was burnished by her 38-17-36 figure. The name, “Vampira,” was suggested by her first husband, screenwriter Dean Riesner.

This appears to be a startling coincidence since Vampira made a career of pretending to be a vampire, this founded on the choice of a Halloween costume, and that of Rayelan Allen, AKA Darlene Rae Smith, Raye Smith, etc.

Vampira left Ashtabula to become famous, albeit in a marginalizing role in television, and Rayelan, who has retired to Ashtabula from a career as a doyen of Conspiracy on the Internet.  Rayelan's fame hinged on the reason for which Rumor Mill News was founded, this being to defend the good name of her third husband, Gunther Russbacher.  Claiming to be the number 3 man in the CIA Russbacher's career is memorialized on Rumor Mill News (RMN).  The site is aptly named. Where does rumor meet reality is the questions many ask.  

Russbacher, who reportedly died around 1998, lived a life which appears to be made up of   many flights of fancy. These are memorialized in an article titled, A Pro Con, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune on March 17, 1992, written by Michael Tackett.

The latter part of Maila's life was fraught with frustrations as the persona she had made famous was adopted by Elvira, another winsome late night personality associated with the world of vampires.   

Consider getting in touch with Rayelan now as she is moving out of the city of Ashtabula proper and, belabored by her happy habit of hoarding, has found herself stuck with the impossibility of finishing her packing even with a host of helpers.  (It is reported the first 250 boxes failed to make more than a dent in the whole of her holdings.) 

But the enterprise is being celebrated as a God Send by local owners of storage units.   

But, please, do not bring house warming gifts that are not consumable on the spot, else wise they will have to be packed.

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