Mistress of the Dark, Mistress of Copyright Infringement?
You may have heard that Vampira (real name Maila Nurmi), star of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and the original “Mistress of the Night” late night Horror movie host, sued Elvira for stealing her gimmick, but the courts ruled in favor of Elvira. It isn’t true. There was no ruling because there was no trial. According to Ms. Nurmi herself, her lawyer called her up within HOURS of the start of the trial and resigned. As a result, Maila didn’t have the proper paperwork in hand; also, she didn’t drive, and was unable to get a ride to the courthouse on such short notice. The judge had no choice but to dismiss the case. Ms. Nurmi fully believed that her lawyer had been paid off by Elvira’s people. Sadly, she couldn’t prove it.
Vampira had been involved in the plan to “resurrect” her show, serving as a producer, but she considered herself too old to reprise the role. The other producer hired Cassandra Peterson behind Maila’s back and went ahead with his plan to film the pilot episode of the show, which was to be called “The Vampira Show.” When Maila served them with a cease-and-desist order, they changed the name of the hostess to “Elvira” and continued, cutting Nurmi out of the process altogether.
I have no doubt this is the way it went down. The thieving producer keeled over and croaked not too long after his act of larceny, leaving Cassandra Peterson to take over the new show. The pertinent question to me, then, is how much Peterson knew about the theft. She professed innocence, but the fact that she tried to claim that she’d never even heard of Vampira–which seems rather implausible–casts suspicion on anything and everything she has said.
I offer special thanks to Sid Terror, who was a longtime friend of Ms. Nurmi’s and who passed this story on to me. These are the facts as Ms. Nurmi related them directly. I can only report on her version of the facts. But do I believe her? Yes, I do.