R.I.P. Tura Satana

Somewhere around this drafty old house of ours, I have an audio recording of director Russ Meyer talking with Linette and me about his career. It was probably recorded in 1994. We’d met him in Atlanta, as I recall, at a screening of his cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! If memory serves, he was accompanied by a large breasted woman whom he introduced as “Miss Mounds.” (She’d be found guilty of assaulting the much older director in 1999.) Among other things, we talked about his early days, shooting combat footage during WWII, his pathological love of the female form, his friendship with Roger Ebert, the fact that he believed that waif models like Kate Moss should be put to death, and, of course, his most famous film heroine, Tura Satana. I’d always intended to interview her too, but I never got around to it. And, now, I guess I never will. According to her manager, Tura passed away yesterday in Reno. And, now that I’m reading up on her, I’m regretting not having worked harder to track her down. To say that she had a fascinating life would be in colossal understatement. The following fact alone, I think, would have been reason enough to interview her, let alone the fact that she dated Elvis and grew up in a Japanese internment camp.

…She even posed for erotic photographs taken by Harold Lloyd, the former silent comedian, who suggested she pursue an acting career…

Lloyd, according to Satana, gave her confidence when he said, “You have such a symmetrical face, the camera loves your face… you should be seen.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the work of Hollywood’s original bad girl, here are a few clips. Enjoy.

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10 Comments

  1. anonymous
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Her life story reads like the script of a classic exploitation film. According to Wikipedia, she was gang raped at a young age, and then, after a corrupt and/or racist judge let the five men go, learned martial arts, tracked each man down and exacted revenge.

  2. Knox
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Do any of Lloyd’s photographs exist today? I’d love his film work and I’m curious to see what he produced as a photographer.

  3. Knox
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Damn, I love Google. That took all of ten seconds.

    http://www.photographersgallery.com/by_artist.asp?id=170

  4. Knox
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The backdrop of his shot of Tura is fantastic.

    http://www.photographersgallery.com/photo.asp?id=1328

    I wish I had $1,500.

    He’s also got a good shot of Betty Page. I had no idea this is what he was into after his career in movies.

  5. Posted February 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Lloyd was particularly big on stereo photography. There was even a book published a few years ago, just of his 3-D nudes.

    By the way, the occultist Kenneth Grant died a couple of weeks ago too. Stupid death.

  6. Edward
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    There will never be another like her. Rest in peace.

  7. Alice Krum
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    She also has one of the best quotes ever – “The one thing you’ve got to remember is that you just never accept defeat. Remember to never let life get you down, because there is always something new to learn tomorrow. Life is to be lived, and lived well.”

  8. John Galt
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Ayn Rand would have loved her.

  9. Stephen
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what she would have been like if she were coming of age today, in the era of reality television. Would she be on Bad Girls Club? Would she be Snooki?

    http://bad-girls-club.oxygen.com/

  10. Jo Genova
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    I’d prefer to imagine Tura attacking Jesus and staving off the rapture than Macho Man.

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