Glamour Ghoul

The Passions and Pain of the Real Vampira, Maila Nurmi


Vampira is an icon of horror, fashion, and drama—but the woman behind the make-up was far more interesting.

Maila Nurmi, the beautiful and sheltered daughter of Finnish immigrants, stepped off a bus in 1941 Los Angeles intent on finding fame and fortune. What she found were men eager to take advantage of her innocence and beauty.

A talented seamstress, she created a provocative Halloween costume that paved the way to a small role on the Red Skelton Show that then grew into a persona. Vampira brought her the notoriety she desired, yet trapped her in a character she could never truly escape.

This is Maila’s story. Sandra Niemi, Maila’s niece, fills in the nuances of her life before fame and her struggles after the limelight faded as she found a new community within the burgeoning Los Angeles punk scene who embraced her as their own. Maila’s diaries and letters along with interviews with family and friends, bring new insight to her relationships with Orson Welles, James Dean and Marlon Brando.

Includes rare family photographs and revelations that will alter our understanding of Hollywood’s legendary playboys.

Author Bio: Sandra Niemi is Maila’s niece who grew up fascinated by her infamous yet emotionally removed and far away relative. She reconnected with Maila and discovered a trove of her notes and diaries that shed new light on her aunt’s life.


978-1627311007 | Pub Date: January 19, 2021 | 6x9 | 350 pages | $21.95