Monday, July 9, 2012
From my collection: Kristina Hanson, Elaine Edwards & Lisa Gaye. "Oh, the humanity ...!"
From Encino, CA, and a Pierce Junior College student, raven-haired 19-year-old Kristina Hanson was crowned “Miss Tarzana” in early May of 1958 by a jury that included character star William Bendix, who happened to also serve as “Honorary Mayor” of Tarzana, and television stars Bob Crane and Chuck Connors. The title gave Miss Hanson an entree into the “Miss Universe” contest that year but she failed to qualify. Instead she played the much-imperiled female lead in the Cinemascope cult classic Dinosaurus! (1960), you know the one where Gregg Martell as an unearthed Neanderthal is frightened by the flushing of a toilet. This so-called monster movie was really mostly for kids, and indeed featured one of their very own, an island tyke played by Alan Roberts (1948-2008), a child performer who was all over the place in those years. Kristina Hanson, meanwhile, didn't do much in Hollywood after Dinosaurus! and she later became a grade school teacher.
Equally imperiled, but in standard sized black and white, Elaine Edwards, a former Powers model from Albuquerque, NM, was dragged around by the title creature in The Faceless Man (1958), a Mummy rip-off but set in, of all places, Pompeii, Italy. Yes, that's right, the monster is indeed a 2000-year-old Vesuvius survivor. Except for some second unit work, or stock footage, this particular creature frolics about in what suspiciously looks like the Iverson Movie Ranch and/or Griffith Park, notable location favorites in or around Hollywood itself. Previously, a much younger Miss Edwards, who at the time was married to Ed Kemmer of Space Patrol fame, appeared opposite Rex Allen in a 1952 Republic oater, Old Oklahoma Plains (more about that in a later post) and she was also one of the Three Blondes in His Life (1961), “he” being muscular Jock Mahoney and the two other blondes Greta Thyssen (q.v.) and one Valerie Porter. Edwards operated the “Elaine Edwards Prayer Foundation” in Sun Valley, CA and got into spiritualism.
Best known of our three Horror Heroines Lisa Gaye turns up rather late in her career as Scott Brady's girlfriend in Castle of Evil (1966), a truly cheesy B-flick featuring other “old-timers” such as Hugh Marlowe and Virginia Mayo, who sports a red wig for a change. All of them are called to the reading of a will in a haunted mansion lorded over by a by-the-numbers Mrs. Danvers type played, amusingly, by Shelley Robinson, a character actress destined to become Megan Mullaly's maid Rosario, she of the purple “Members Only” jacket, on the hit television series Will & Grace.
From Denver, CO (born 1935 as Lezlie Gae Griffin), Lisa Gaye was the sister of fellow Hollywood starlets Teala Loring and Debra Paget. When Universal-International in 1954 failed to borrow Miss Paget from Fox, Leslie Gaye, as she was then known, stepped in and earned herself a contract. Today, she is best remembered as the female lead in two seminal rock 'n roll teen flicks, Rock Around the Clock and Shake, Rattle and Rock (both 1956). A born again Christian according to her sister Teala, Lisa Gaye, as funny as that would have been, did not play in Troma Toxic Avenger flicks – that was another Lisa Gaye entirely – but had instead retired to Texas in 1970, a widow with grandchildren.