Since the 1930's, Hollywood has been cranking out productions featuring women of the jungle as an excuse to get pretty actresses in loincloths and leopard skins. The films and television programs themselves have been less than stellar, but audiences going to see a movies about jungle chicks don't want Citizen Kane - they wanted scantily clad jungle babes swingin' on vines!
So, here's my list of the top 7 stone cold foxes of the jungle - in order. With each jungle babe I've included images and a few facts about the actress and the corresponding movie or TV show. I hope you find them interesting. Enjoy!
7. Ann Corio in Jungle Siren (1942)
Does this look like someone raised in the jungle? After 20+ years deep in the heart of a jungle, I'd say she looks absolutely ravishing. Would it have killed the director to put a smidgen of dirt on her? Maybe a stain on her clothes, a hair out of place?
6. Deek Sills as Algona the Great White Goddess in Trader Hornee (1970)
5. Tanya Roberts as Sheena (1984)
4. Edwina Booth as Nina Trent the White Goddess in Trader Horn (1931)
Image Source: Allure
Edwina Booth had incredible beauty but her career was shortened by her participation in this film. While on location in Africa, Booth contracted malaria. But hers wasn't the greatest misfortune to happen during the production of Trader Horn - a native crew member was eaten by crocodiles and a native boy was killed by a charging rhino - a scene which was actually included in the film!
Edwina sued MGM over not having adequate protection against this disease, since she was required to be scantily clothed, increasing her susceptibility to malaria. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Edwina didn't die from the disease, but the long term effects kept her from working and essentially killed her acting career.
3. Marion Michael as Liane, Jungle Goddess (1956)
Marion Michael was an intensely beautiful German actress whose very first acting role (Liane, Jungle Goddess) instantly catapulted her to fame in Germany. Sadly, her career was very short-lived after a horrible car accident in 1960 which left her scarred and unable to get work. By the time her scars had healed, her time had passed and none of the films she attempted after Liane were profitable.
Marion spend the next decade or so in a deep depression, wallowing in alcohol and drugs. Then she moved from West to East Germany (an unusual decision) and lived in virtual anonymity as a television technician - none of her co-workers were aware of her glorious past on the silver screen!
But, despite her short career, her name has resurfaced as a popular film icon in Germany. There was even a TV musical about her life in 1996 - a testament to the impact of her first film.
Liane is notable in that Marion Michael appears topless for the first half of the movie. This was scandalous at the time, but it isn't really that different than Splash - Daryl Hannah is a topless mermaid, but her hair conveniently covers up the breasts. However, if you stare diligently enough at the screen without blinking (which I'm sure many kids in the 1950's did) you might catch a glimpse of nipple a few times. Thus, Marion has the distinction of becoming the second German to appear to nude in a film.
2. Evelyne Kraft as Samantha/Ah Wei in The Mighty Peking Man (1977)
The Mighty Peking Man is one of the most insane movies I've ever seen. It's a Hong Kong production intended to capitalize on the hype surrounding the Dino DeLaurentis remake of King Kong. However, the film features precious little ape and tons of Evelyne Kraft (a relatively unknown from Sweden) jiggling around in an animal-skin bikini.
Evidently she can speak with all the members of the animal kingdom except the cobra. In one scene, the snake bites her on the inner thigh and her Hong Kong lover must suck out the poison! At times, it feels like the director is so focused on her bikini that he forgets he's making a movie about a giant ape. A lot of the film is taken up watching Evelyne shimmying up trees, repeatedly bending over, and frolicking in slow motion through the jungle.
When the big ape actually does appear on film, he seems to be a different size each time. I guess the director was counting on the audience being so focused on Evelyne that they wouldn't notice. Not surprisingly, Tarrantino is a big fan of this film.
Evelyne Kraft retired from the movie business shortly after Peking Man. She became president of a major construction company (her rich husband's company) with charity and business interests in Nigeria. She passed away in January 2009 at the age of 57 due to heart failure.
1. Irish McCalla as Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (TV 1955-1956)
image source: aventuraspez
After running away from her alcoholic father, Irish McCalla took refuge in a boarding house and worked as a waitress. At night, she worked at her second job making plastic moulds and wing-nuts for aircraft at the McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft factory. She began to supplement her income by modeling. Her natural good looks and build quickly attracted male attention. Irish was soon posing for Antonio Vargas and gracing literally hundreds of magazines. Like Bettie Page, she didn't act, but was instantly recognizable to men across the country. A magazine, Eve, was actually created specifically to feature her.
Getting the part as Sheena (ahead of famous model/actress Anita Ekberg) was her big break. She filled the role perfectly and the show was quite successful. I can't figure out why on earth it was cancelled. This will remain a mystery until someone leaves a comment clearing this up (hint, hint). Until then, enjoy a few more Irish Sheena images. Cheers!
image source ; A place I highly recommend for a comprehensive and visually stunning biography of Irish and the Sheena television series.
image source: Hollywood Yesterday