You might be looking at this list and screaming “why are there only four?!” –well, because believe it or not, there weren’t many vampire characters during those thirty years. Most horror hosts didn’t really want to nail down a specific character type. Mad scientists, ghouls, and just creepy looking guys were pretty popular. Here’s a collective list of all the vampire hosts we could find in that thirty year era; if you know of any more, and can give us some resources, we’d appreciate it!
Vampira – Born Maila Elizabeth Syrjäniemi in Finland, the actress we know as Vampira immigrated with her family to America when she was a toddler, and began a modeling career in California when she was 17. Before she was Vampira, she was a creepy seductress on Spook Scandals, a midnight horror themed show. The character Vampira was born when Maila turned up at Lester Horton’s annual Bal Caribe Masquerade, dressed as a popular character from Charles Addams’s comic strip, –and if you don’t know the origins of the Addams Family, then shame on you! That’s right; Vampira was inspired by the long ago, black and white newstrip comic character, Morticia Addams. Nurmi’s husband, Dean Riesner came up with the name Vampira, and Vampira premiered officially in 1954, and then ran for a year. She retained rights to the character, though many look-alikes cropped up in her wake. Vampira’s appeared in numerous other roles, though her most memorable to this editor, is Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space. If you want more information, and stories of the business from Maila Nurmi herself, check out the March 2008 issue of Rue Morgue; there’s an exclusive interview with Vampira.
Sir Graves Ghastly – Played by Lawson J. Deming, Sir Graves was your run-of-the-mill, stereotypical, therefore utterly hilarious, vampire, and the show he hosted went by the same name. The show ran locally in Detroit from 1966, to 1983, –yeah, with 15 seasons in all, and Lawson continued making public appearances, both on and off television well into the 90’s. Deming died in 2007, leaving behind a legacy of horror hosting that was never quite duplicated.
Vegas Vampire – The Vegas Vampire, played by Jim Parker in the late 60’s through the 70’s, who hosted both Shock Theater and Vegas vampire, –which was, of course, locally broadcast throughout the Las Vegas, Nevada area. The Vampire wasn’t quite as PG as other horror hosts of the time; he was often quite sassy about the politics of the time. Parker clearly played up to expectations of the younger audience with his cliché vampire routine, and to the older audience with his political voodoo doll demonstrations.
Count Gore De Vol – The Count was a horror host broadcast locally in the Washington D.C. area from 1973 to 1987, in the show Creature Feature. With the 70’s sexual revolution, came some naughty innuendo on the show; the Count’s friend Countess von Stauffenberger often showed up for some silly sexual banter. The show didn’t run straight through from ’73, to ’87. There was actually a five year break from ’79 to ’84; however, audiences loved the Count, and brought him back ….from the dead!