Skip to main content

Maila Nurmi, ‘Vampira’ Actress, Dead at 86

Maila Nurmi, the actress famous for originating the role of “Vampira,” died Jan. 10 in her Hollywood home. She was 86.

The Vampira character hosted late-night horror programming on KABC in Los Angeles and paved the way for knockoffs such as Elvira, whom Nurmi brought suit against in 1989 -- a lawsuit she withdrew due to lack of funds.

Nurmi said her characters’ costume was based on cartoons published in The New Yorker by Charles Addams -- cartoons that eventually would be adapted into The Addams FamilyTV show in 1964.

In addition to her TV-hosting duties, she made a number of appearances in film, most notoriously in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space as Bela Lugosi’s love interest. Nurmi was played by Lisa Marie in Tim Burton’s documentary tribute to the director, Ed Wood, in 1994.

Nurmi, born Maila Syrjäniemi in Finland, moved to Ohio as a child and eventually to Los Angeles, where she created the Vampira character.