11/30/09

Foxy Ladies #8: Stone Cold Foxes of the Jungle



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?

From the original movie poster: "SHE'S A ONE-GIRL LOVE-BLITZ! It took this American he-man to teach her the manual of ARMS...and what a pupil she made!"  Actually, the movie is quite tame; those that bought into the tag line were surely disappointed.

Ann was also a model for YANK magazine, a periodical for servicemen during WWII that featured pin up girls in each issue.  This is Ann from the September 3, 1943 issue on the left.  I could make a joke about a military magazine featuring pinups called "YANK", but I'll refrain.



6. Deek Sills as Algona the Great White Goddess in Trader Hornee (1970)



Trader Hornee was a sexploitation spoof of the 1931 film, Trader Horn (see the #4 entry). Despite the X rating on the movie still (image above), it's pretty tame by today's standards - more akin to Benny Hill than pornography. No sex, just naughty tongue-in-cheek fun. The jungle girl in this flick is Deek Sills, real name - Deborah Sills.



Deborah worked as a hostess at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta and as a cashier at an adult movie theater. The film producer, David F. Friedman, discovered her and put her in the film. Oddly enough, after the premier, Deborah hooked up with a guy in the recording industry and never acted again!

5. Tanya Roberts as Sheena (1984)



This entire movie is a complete bust (pardon the pun). Tanya's acting is excruciating to watch and the dialogue is among the most asinine I've ever heard. Add to this, a horrible plot and the dad from (ugh!) "Blossom". Literally, the only thing going for this movie is the physical beauty of Tanya Roberts..... but then, what other reasons were audiences watching this movie for?




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)


image source

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

9 comments:

  1. I hope you would be surprised to know I am big fan of jungle women in comics and film and have slightly touched on the theme in a couple posts at the Cafe. This is great stuff with short little bios and trivia. I have loads of full comics actually, comic pages I have found but I am too lazy to get those up. May have to do a jungle girl post again soon. Maureen O'Sullivan was pretty hot too in the 2nd Tarzan film. Really skimpy jungle garb for the time that caused some controversy.

    Bill

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  2. I should have said, i the first sentence, NOT be surprised. hate my typos... need a secretary.

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  3. Apparently, jungles are just FULL of goddesses and queens. Can't admire the liana without tripping over one.

    Even that lion looks... skeptical of Tanya Roberts' acting in that picture. Frankly, it looks embarrassed to be in the same movie with her. Someone's agent got a call after filming!

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  4. What!?! No Maureen O'Sullivan? Man she is the hottest jungle babe. The back clothes changing scene, the swimming scene, the animal skin, and in one of the Tarzans, she wakes up with Tarzan under an animal skin blanket and then makes this speech about how they are "married." Hot stuff.

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  5. that should be "The back-lit clothes changing scene..." You see her outline through the tent canvas.

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  6. Sounds like I need to check into the Maureen O'Sullivan film - I don't think I've seen it.

    Wasn't there a jungle girl on the Superfriends? Seems like her name was Rama or Rana.... ugh, time to go to Wikipedia again.

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  7. I love the whole idea of jungle women. I've always loved those type of movies. There have been some really hot babes out there. I do have a special place in my heart for Tanya Roberts as Sheena. I know it's a bad movie, but I wasn't watching it as high art. lol

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  8. I would add Judy Graubart as "Jennifer of the Jungle" on The Electric Company. Nothing on that PBS kids' show was more educational than her costume. Rrrrrrrrrrr!

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  9. Maureen O'Sullivan changing clothes in the tent launched me into puberty.

    I vividly remember being able to see the outline of her nipples and pubic hair in the shadow on the tent, but the latest "fully-restored" version I watched is not nearly as salacious as I remember. Have I inflated things in my memory? Or did they tone it down? I've always heard that Maureen O'Sullivan was a little ashamed of the movies.

    The first two Weissmuller/O'Sullivan Tarzan movies are as sexy as the law allowed at the time, and are as sexy as any movie you've ever seen.

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