Today is the birthday of the very first television horror host Vampira (Maila Nurmi, 1922-2008). Nurmi had been a pin-up model, chorus line dancer and bit player on stage and screen when she was discovered by local Los Angeles tv producers at a costume party in 1953, bedecked in an outfit inspired by the cartoons of CharlesAddams. (The character of Vampira thus predates the tv sitcom characters Morticia Addams and Lily Munster by over a decade). Starting on KABC in 1954, Vampira would introduce horror movies (I was about to use the adjective “old” but back then they weren’t so old) with a campy detachment, delivering puns in a deadpan manner that seemed to mix elements of ghoulishness with the then-sprouting beatnik culture. She was simultaneously sexy, funny and scary, and my friends WHAT I ask you is more powerful than the combination of those three…

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