The character Vampira was the creation of Finnish-born model/actress Maila Nurmi, who began hosting The Vampira Show in 1954. In a formfitting, long black dress (that clung to her 38-17-36 measurements) with a plunging neckline, fishnets, high heels, claw-like nails, long black hair, and a belt around her cinched waist, Vampira would introduce horror films through clouds of mist while making double entendre necrophilia jokes, drinking "poison," and talking to her pet sider Rollo. Despite the fact that she was Emmy-nominated Most Outstanding Television Personality for her hosting duties, she eventually fell on hard times after her show was canceled. A beauty shop accident forced her to shave her head, her hands were badly burned in a fire while trying to rescue her kitten, and her close friend, James Dean — to whom the tabloids linked her romantically, but their relationship was more likely of the hag and fag variety — died in car wreck.
The only existing footage of Nurmi in her Vampira character is Ed Wood's film Plan 9 from Outer Space, in which she speaks no lines. A cult icon, she was later immortalized in the Misfits' "Graverobber from Outerspace." Nurmi befriended the band and when on to front her own punk group in the '80s, called Vampira and Satan's Cheerleaders. She made it back into the news around that same time when she sued Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira) for character copyright infringement, referring to Peterson publicly as "Judy Canova with cobwebs." Vampira isn't haunting us quite yet, as the 85-year-old Nurmi still walks among the living.