THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mamie Van Doren: Last of the Blonde Bombshells

Mamie and former husband/frequent co-star, bandleader Ray Anthony

With Mamie, April 2000, Hollywood

They don't make 'em like Mamie anymore. A contemporary of fellow buxom icons Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, both of whom departed our dimension decades ago, Mamie just turned a vivacious 79 this past February 6, and she's still swingin', as evidenced by her very busy web site. Back in 2000, after corresponding with Mamie via email (and snail mail, she sent me a few autographed photos I still cherish), Monica and I trekked down to Hollywood to catch her being interviewed live on stage at the Egyptian Theater, before a screening of her 1959 crime flick Guns, Girls and Gangsters, as part of Eddie Muller's annual LA film noir festival. It was the first (and so far, only) time we met in the flesh. Mamie is a class act - sexy, sassy, savvy. The only movie of hers I showed during my years at the Parkway was the only one I could find in 35mm, Jack Arnold's undercover hipster narc thriller High School Confidential (1958), which is also one of her best. It's one of several films she did with schlockmeister Albert Zugsmith. Others include Girls Town (1959), The Beat Generation (1959), College Confidential (1960), and SEX KITTEN GO TO COLLEGE (1960), which I'm showing next week on a double bill with her 1957 rockabilly prison farm classic UNTAMED YOUTH, co-starring fellow sex bomb Jeanne Carmen, Lori Nelson and legendary rocker Eddie Cochran. The version of Sex Kittens I'm hosting features the notorious "robot topless dancer scene" which was apparently only released in Europe. It has to be seen to be believed. As with all of her Zugsmith productions, the cast of Sex Kittens is an astonishing roster of Hollywood has beens and hep cats: John Carradine, Tuesday Weld, Vampira, Jackie Coogan, Martin Milner, and Louis Nye, to name a few. But Mamie, as the tassel-tossin' "professor," steals the show. These are two of my favorite Mamie flicks (on hard-to-find DVD, no prints to be had) and I'm happy to finally pay tribute to this great lady. Hope to see you Thursday, February 25, 7:30 at the Camera 3 Cinema in downtown San Jose. Cheers.