Was Horror Icon Vampira the Inspiration for Disney's Maleficent?
Set for release on May 30th is Disney's Maleficent, which stars Angelina Jolie as the evil villainess. Maleficent was first brought to the screen in 1959's animated film Sleeping Beauty, the very same year that horror hostess Vampira appeared as a zombie in her most iconic film role, in Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space. What do Maleficent and Vampira in common? Well, not only do they look pretty similar, as many fans have pointed out over the years, but new evidence that's come to light suggests that Vampira was actually the basis for the legendary Disney villain.
In a lengthy but fascinating piece posted over on Salon this past weekend, writer R.H. Greene - who also directed the 2012 documentary Vampira and Me - reveals that the late Vampira (Maila Nurmi) donned the iconic Maleficent headdress and flowing robe on the Disney back lot in 1956, three years before they brought Sleeping Beauty to the screen. Though rumored in the past, Greene has confirmed these modeling sessions by opening up the pages of Nurmi's personal diary, which reveals that she did indeed bring Maleficent to life for Disney, on November 16th of 1956.