Welcome to SixtiesCinema.com the home of award winning author and film historian Tom Lisanti's groovy books on 60's starlets and drive-in movies from Elvis and beach party musicals to biker films to teenage exploitation. Check out his Blog below for updates or tribute pieces on all your favorite '60s starlets and B-movie actors. Purchase his highly entertaining, well-illustrated books directly from Amazon.com
Tom Lisanti is an award-winning author and historian on Sixties B-movies. He has written a series of books on the subject and has interviewed some of the most famous starlets of the time. His latest book Pamela Tiffin: Hollywood to Rome, 1961-1974 is now available and look for his next book Sixties Pop Cinema in 2016.
Sixties moviegoers went ape over Linda Harrison whose most memorable role featured her wearing nothing more than a loincloth She left an indelible impression as the mute human Nova opposite Charlton Heston’s time traveling astronaut Taylor in the classic sci-fi film Planet of the Apes (1968) where Earth was turned upside down with talking, horseback riding apes in charge and the humans their slaves. Linda’s Nova was brought back for the sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) where astronaut James Franciscus comes looking for his missing buddy and finds the apes ruling uptop and a city of mutant humans underground. Due to these films immense popularity, Linda will always be remembered as the beauty among the beasts. “Nova meant new,” reminded Linda. “I felt very comfortable playing her. I didn’t even have to audition. Dick [Zanuck] told me I had the quality they wanted.” She surely did. With her long, dark hair and big brown eyes, Linda had the perfect combination to bring Nova to life on the big screen.
Birthday wishes also to the late Alexandra Hay. She was a long-haired wispy blonde with waif-like delicate features in the vein of Sue Lyon and Carol Lynley, and played a number of cool chick roles in the late sixties including Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner as a gum chewing carhop who befuddles Spencer Tracy; Otto Preminger’s misfire of a comedy Skidoo as Jackie Gleason’s vapid daughter who falls for hippie John Philip Law; and Jacques Demy’s underrated Model Shop as the marriage minded girlfriend of Gary Lockwood’s photographer wannabe on the day he learns he has been drafted). Like most of her sixties contemporaries, the seventies and eighties found her turning to exploitation films (such as 1000 Convicts and a Woman!) and television. She died in October 1993 at age forty-nine.
Remembering the late lovely 60s starlet Phyllis Davis on her birthday. A striking dark-haired beauty with curves galore, Phyllis was similar in appearance to Edy Williams and was usually hired only to fill a bikini though she found deserved fame in the seventies in exploitation movies and on television as a regular on Vega$. Due to Phyllis Davis’ sultry looks and knockout body highlighted by a gleaming smile, the 5-foot-6 beauty began playing minor scantily-clad roles in such films as Lord Love a Duck (1966), The Swinger (1966), and The Last of the Secret Agents? (1966). She appeared in a number of Elvis movies including Spinout (1966) and Live a Little, Love a Little (1968), and continued popping up on television usually swimsuit clad. Despite these minor parts, Davis got noticed by studio insiders and was voted a Hollywood Deb Star in 1966. Another bikini role came in The Big Bounce (1969) playing a bimbo with nothing more to do than splash around a pool with an older rich guy. But the brunette beauty filled a wild swimsuit so lusciously and showed comedic talent that she was hired for the blackout skits of the new series Love, American Style beginning in 1969. For the next four years Phyllis was clad either in the skimpiest of bikinis or shortest of mini-dresses for the brief sketches where she was usually the object of desire for bungling nebbish Stuart Margolin that were edited in between episodes. In 1969, she snagged the Barbara Parkins part from Valley of the Dolls in the unofficial sequel Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) directed by Russ Meyer. Davis’ character is a fashion designer and aunt to aspiring rock star Dolly Reade who comes to LA with her friends seeking fame and fortune. With her long black mane parted in the middle and hair sprayed stiff, a pale-looking Davis comes across like Vampira and performs in a bit too stiff a fashion for this loose take-off on Hollywood excess though her character is supposed to be oblivious to the weird goings on surrounding her. The film was a huge hit but Davis was unsatisfied with her part and Meyer.
While continuing on TV’s Love American Style, Phyllis lost out on being a Bond Girl to Lana Wood in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) but snagged the lead in Sweet Sugar (1972) an outrageous exploitation women-in-prison film. She convincingly played a prostitute working in Latin America set up on a bogus drug charge by a crooked politician and sent to a chain gang to work on a sugar plantation. As with most of her contemporaries who wanted to keep working in film, Davis (looking fantastic in her mid-riffs and short shorts) got over her shyness doffing her blouse in many a scene to the delight of her male admirers and repeated going topless in Terminal Island (1973) playing another tough-talking sexpot. Exiled for life to a penal colony on an island off the coast of California for murder, Davis was cast as bimbo killer Joy who loves to sexually tease her male compatriots. The chaste bikini-clad Elvis starlet had come a long way baby.
A much smaller role came next for Phyllis in Mike Nichols’ disappointing The Day of the Dolphin (1973) as a bubble headed blonde receptionist more interested in her personal phone call than helping George C. Scott who is waiting to see her boss. She then channeled Scarlett O’Hara in the extended dream sequence in Train Ride to Hollywood (1975) directed by Charles Rondeau who helmed many episodes of Love, American Style. Davis got noticed playing a dominatrix in the otherwise disappointing The Choirboys (1977) and then was cast as private investigator Robert Urich’s brainy assistant in the popular lighthearted series, Vega$ a part she played from 1978 to 1981. During the course of the series Davis drastically changed her appearance by cutting her hair short and going blonde. The show brought Phyllis back into the mainstream limelight and helped buoy her career into the nineties. She retired and never looked back. Sadly, she passed away from Cancer in 2013.
Get a double shot of Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema gorgeous cover girl Celeste Yarnall in 2 new Blu-Ray releases. Celeste contributes a commentary track to The Velvet Vampire (1970) where she plays the title character who draws hippie couple Michael Blodgett and Sherry Miles into her desert den.
The Face of Eve (1968) features Celeste as perhaps the first cinematic female Tarzan. Unlike the recent Tarzan movie filmed on a London sound stage and riddled with CGI effects, Eve was filmed on location in Spain and the jungles of Brazil. It features a first-rate class including Christopher Lee, Robert Walker, and Herbert Lom. Click here to read Cinema Retro’s review and then get a copy of my bookFantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinemato find out the reason from Celeste Yarnall herself why she was missing from a quarter of the movie.
A luminous dark-haired beauty who eerily resembled Elizabeth Taylor with the classiness of Grace Kelly, the late Dolores Faith projected a sweet persona and was usually cast as fragile ingénues or vixenish vamps but surprisingly never rose out of Grade Z movies. Dolores, a natural blonde who bucked the trend in the halcyon days of Sandra Dee and the flaxen-haired Barbie Doll by dying her hair black to match her olive skin, began the decade with bit parts as a young bride in All in a Nights Work (1961) and a pie-throwing coed in Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961). The fledgling starlet next grabbed a lead role in the low-budget exploitation movie V.D. (1961), which was also released under the title Damaged Goods. She played a dark and temperamental teenage trollop who seduces her friend’s beau and pays for it by getting the Clap. In the cult sci-fi movie The Phantom Planet (1961) she is a mute inhabitant of the planet Rehton who falls in love with stranded astronaut Dean Fredericks. At first he is treated as a hostile until he rescues the beautiful Faith from the icky creatures the Solarites. In the process, she regains her voice. Faith received a lot of press for this as she was billed as “The Girl from Outer Space” on the film’s posters and from a purported romance with dashing Sean Flynn son of Errol Flynn.
More notoriety came her way when she was selected to be a Hollywood Deb Star in 1962 however it did not lead to any significant movie roles for her and she was back in exploitation land re-teaming with Dean Fredericks in the totally obscure drama Wild Harvest (1962). On television she turned up on Ripchord and Have Gun, Will Travel in 1963. That same year Life magazine published a feature story on her but all it led to is a cameo appearance as a towel-clad American woman in Italy who gently convinces a jealous sergeant to help his rival and girlfriend escape from the Germans in the WWII adventure Shell Shock (1964). It was a respite before Dolores returned to far out roles in two Grade Z sci-fi productions from the directing/writing team of Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce. In Mutiny in Outer Space (1965) she joined Glamazons Pamela Curran and Francine York as astronauts on a space station being terrorized by a creeping alien fungus. As the crew’s bio-chemist, Faith is the one who first discovers the creature. The Human Duplicators (1965) had space visitors trying to take over the world by duplicating the Earth inhabitants as androids. Faith’s next movie was a step down from even the previous two but that is not surprising since schlock horror filmmaker Jerry Warren was brought in to try to save it. House of Black Death (1965) featured Dolores as the innocent girl caught between two battling warlocks, John Carradine and Lon Chaney, Jr., out to control the Desard family, which Faith is a member of. Dolores Faith married and retired from acting shortly after. She passed away in 1990.
Happy Birthday to actor-turned-producer Bart Patton. Tall and lanky, handsome Bart Patton played a surfing college boy on vacation in Waikiki in Gidget Goes Hawaiian but it is his work behind the camera that he is best remembered for. An association with Roger Corman led the actor to become a twenty-four old producer of the beach-party movies, Beach Ball (1965), Wild Wild Winter (1966), and Out of Sight (1966).
At age ten, Bart played Scampy the Clown for four years on the ABC children’s program, Super Circus. While attending UCLA in the late fifties he met his future wife, pretty blonde actress Mary Mitchel, and became close friends with an aspiring filmmaker named Francis Coppola. Patton made his film debut playing a high school student in Because They’re Young (1960), which began his four-year relationship with Columbia Pictures though he never signed a contract. He would go on to work for the studio in Strangers When We Meet (1960) before joining Joby Baker and Don Edmonds as partying college boys in Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) starring Deborah Walley in the title role. Bart also began working on TV and guest starred on such varied series as 77 Sunset Strip, Father Knows Best, Thriller and General Electric Theatre. His next film role was as an ax murderer in Dementia 13 (1963) directed by Francis Coppola. This eerie black-and-white horror movie is set in an Irish castle also starred William Campbell, Luana Anders, Mary Mitchel, and Patrick Magee. It was on Dementia 13 where Bart Patton began to get involved with the production side of making movies. Producer Roger Corman was impressed with the young man and he began working as a production manager for his company. He helped put the cult horror movie Spider Baby (1964) together before Corman offered him a chance to produce Beach Ball (1965) one of the most blatant and successful knockoffs of AIP’s Beach Party. This began his short partnership with director Lennie Weinrib. The success of Beach Ball landed the duo a seven-year contract at Universal Pictures. The studio was late into getting in on the beach movie craze and hired them. First up was Wild Wild Winter (1965), a beach party in the snow starring Gary Clarke and Chris Noel, and then the combination beach and spy spoof Out of Sight (1966) with Jonathan Daly and Karen Jensen.
In between producing assignments Patton continued accepting roles on such TV sitcoms as Petticoat Junction and Hank. At Universal, he and Weinrib had a number of projects in development but were let go before any could come to fruition. Bart Patton went on to produce the trouble-laden production The Rain People (1969) directed by his friend Francis Coppola. The movie starred Shirley Knight as a pregnant Long Island housewife who abandons her husband and hits the road and picks up hitchhiker James Caan as a mentally challenged former football star. Frustrated with film making, Patton began making commercials for John Urie & Associates. The one later film that Patton produced was The Further Adventures of the Wilderness Family (1978) starring Robert Logan of BeachBall. Patton also began working steadily as an assistant director on a number of projects.
The late Tura Satana was one of the most exotic actresses of the sixties who always seemed to be cast as voracious man-eaters in low-budget films and fantasy television shows. Her on-screen persona was so powerful that you could not help but be transfixed by her as exemplified when cast as the vile Varla in Russ Meyer’s drive-in cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Dancer Tura Satana’s acting career began was spotted by director Billy Wilder while performing at the Pink Pussycat Club and he cast her as Suzette Wong, an Asian hooker in Irma La Douce (1963). Satana got noticed in her small role and kept busy for the next three years playing minor exotic roles on film and TV. Her dancing prowess got her cast as a stripper in Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1964) and later as a go-go girl in Our Man Flint (1966). After more TV gigs, she was cast in the role of a lifetime—the man-hating viper Varla in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1966).The movie was ahead of its time and possibly made audiences especially men squirm in their seats as buxom Satana, Haji, and Lori Williams physically and verbally abused the males in the movie. To make the gals even more Amazonian, Russ Meyer brilliantly positioned the camera close to the ground so he could film the girls from an angle looking up. Clad in a black cat suit with her cleavage prominently displayed, Satana was the trio’s depraved leader who after breaking the neck of her teenage male opponent in a car race takes his nubile prissy girlfriend hostage. The terrified teen is dragged along as the vixens plot to rip off the fortune of a crippled old man despite the presence of his two sons—one beefy and dumb and the other weak but suspicious. Satana oozes a sort of evil sexiness as the angry Varla and menaces, karate chops, and kills her way into B-movie infamy though the film was a box office disappointment when released. Shockingly, Hollywood never took advantage of Satana’s talent properly. In 1968 she turned up in director Ted V. Mikel’s grade-Z horror movie The Astro-Zombies playing a wicked Chinese dragon lady named “Satana” who works for a foreign power that covets mad doctor John Carradine’s knowledge of turning lawmen into programmable robots. Mikels then hired her for a supporting role in The Doll Squad (1973) She deserved much better. Tura then disappeared from show business only to be resurrected in the nineties due to Faster Pussycat‘s cult followers. She was a fave on the celebrity autograph convention circuit until her death in 2011. You can read more about Tura Satana in my and Louis Paul’s book Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films & Television, 1962-1973 and my book Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood.
Also a quick happy birthday to Robert Pine star of the beach movie Out of Sight (1966) and the TV series CHiPs, but now more known as the dad of actor Chris Pine of the new Star Trek movies. And to blonde nymphet Sue Lyon of Lolita fame though I prefer her in The Night of the Iguana as the tease who turns on drunken minister Richard Burton and on-the-down-low Lesbian teacher Grayson Hall.
The outrageous Edy Williams arguably had the most determination and drive of most sixties glamour girls to become another Raquel Welch. Standing 5-foot-7 with dark brown hair and brown-green eyes she had a curvaceous body measuring 39-26-37, breathy voice, and captivating personality that men drool over. Loving the camera, Edy posed bikini-clad for numerous cheesecake and pin-up photos. She turned every public appearance into a media event and undeniably became a popular sex goddess of the decade leading up to her most notorious role as porn star Ashley St. Ives in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970).
Edy began her acting career with bit roles in a few movies including For Love or Money (1963) before getting noticed playing call girls in A House Is Not a Home (1964) and more memorably in Sam Fuller’s film noir The Naked Kiss (1964). As with her contemporaries, she landed minor decorative roles on TV including episodes of Burke’s Law, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The ravishing beauty then signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox, ala Raquel Welch, but wherein Raquel landed big movie roles Edy continued to toil on television. Edy was voted a Hollywood Deb Star for 1965 but still was only landing bit parts on the big screen in Nevada Smith (1965), Red Line 7000 (1965), and Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966). She finally got noticed and was simply delectable in The Pad (and How to Use It) (1966) playing one of playboy James Farentino’s girlfriends but went right back to bit parts in the awful Sonny and Cher musical Good Times (1967). It was at this point where Williams went blonde and had one of her best roles in The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968) as the “dumb but well-stacked” suburban neighbor of Anne Jackson who imagines Edy as this sexy siren who can seduce any man. After playing one of sailor Gardner McKay’s shapely shipmates in I Sailed to Tahiti with an All-Girl Crew (1969) and a Vegas showgirl who is sent by casino owner David Janssen to seduce his son Robert Drivas who he suspects of being gay in Where’s It At? (1969), Williams scored big with droll over-the-top performance in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) directed by Russ Meyer. She hit it off so well with her director that they wed shortly after and she co-starred in his next movie the underrated The Seven Minutes (1971) starring Wayne Maunder. You can read my homage to Edy in Beyond, with comments from actors who knew and worked with her, in my upcoming book from BearManor Media entitled Talking Sixties Drive-In Movies.
Lisa’s birthday almost sneaked by me. A sultry siren with impeccable cheekbones, long dark hair, and a curvaceous figure, Lisa Seagram started off in sophisticated roles before literally cutting her hair short and loosening up in a string of mid-Sixties fantasy and adventure films and TV shows usually cast as the duplicitous vixen or wanton woman. She made her acting debut as a college coed in the forgettable teenage comedy Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961) with Tommy Sands and Fabian. More minor roles quickly followed in Man-Trap (1961), Bachelor in Paradise (1961), Too Late Blues (1962), and Come Blow Your Horn (1963), and The Thrill of It All (1963). Her early TV work included guest stints on The Gallant Men, McHale’s Navy, Gunsmoke, and six appearances on Burke’s Law.
With her dark sultry looks accentuated by elegant high cheek bones, Seagram was a natural for TV fantasy shows and appeared in a number of them most notably Bewitched as the bewitching “Miss Jasmine” a perfume spokes model and wicked witch who is determined to steal Darrin from Samantha in “It Takes One to Know One.” Back on the big screen, Seagram appeared as a fashion model who gets awaken from a deep sleep with a smack-on-the-behind from Richard Harris’ secret agent in the mod spy spoof Caprice (1967) and then played an ambitious secretary who plots with TV producer Pat Harrington to exploit an ancient Roman who materializes in the present in 2000 Years Later (1969). By the time of the satiric comedy’s release, Seagram had already packed it in and relocated to Rome joining the ranks of such female stars as Carroll Baker, Mimsy Farmer, and Pamela Tiffin who tried their luck in Italy. Not finding much success there, she wound up in Hawaii where she opened a very successful acting school and even produced a few movies. You can read my interview with Lisa in my book Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood.
Blonde, boyishly cute, and powerfully built, Johnny Fain was able to parlay his surfing expertise into a brief movie career. One of the legendary champion Malibu surfers of the late fifties and early sixties he surf doubled in Gidget (1959) and Beach Party (1963). Due to his diminutive stature, Fain was just under 5’5”, he was able and happy to land lots of screen time (unlike his friend/rival Mickey Dora who tried to hide in the background) in the remaining Frankie and Annette beach films since he as shorter than the height conscious Avalon. His films include Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo (infamously being slipped a hot dog into his waiting mouth from surf buddy Mike Nader while Donna Loren sings about a lost love making us gays in the audience go hmmmm), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, and Don’t Make Waves plus a few surf docs such as Strictly Hot and Golden Breed. He concentrated solely on surfing during the later part of the sixties and then gave acting a second try during the seventies. Fain was excited to get cast in the surf epic Big Wednesday (1978) but he expected to get a bigger part and was further disappointed that he didn’t do much surf stunts as he anticipated. He was then cast as one of the three main supporting actors in California Dreaming (1979), which he was hoping would finally exploit his acting ability. His hot shot Malibu surfer Tenner who befriends Dennis Christopher’s awkward T.T. and teaches the Ohio native how to surf. It is believed in currently still resides in Malibu. You can read more about Fain in my book Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969
The late Hungarian blonde Ahna Capri began modeling as a child, which led to TV commercials and then bits in TV and movies. Warner Bros. signed her to a contract in 1959 and promptly re-christened her Anna Capri after the Isle. After appearing in a number of Warner Bros. produced television series (including Cheyenne, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Bronco, etc.) Capri landed the role of Mary Rose, the sixteen year old adoptive daughter of Andrew Duggan and Peggy McCay in the short-lived situation comedy Room for One More in 1962. She was voted a Hollywood Deb Star that same year, but this baby-faced ingenue (she resembled a more alluring and sexy Sandra Dee) yearned to be the femme fatale. After playing the precocious good girl in Kisses for MyPresident (1964) and then a vain sexpot in The Girls on the Beach (1965), Anna Capri got her wish when she was cast as the bad girl in “The Bridge of Lions Affair” on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. This two-part episode was also edited into the feature One of Our Spies Is Missing (1966) and rushed into theaters. For the rest of the decade, Capri concentrated on television making guest star turns playing various parts on such popular series as I Spy, The Wild Wild West, Run for Your Life, The Invaders, The Name of the Game, etc.
In the early seventies, Capri returned to the big screen and was billed as Ahna Capri. She remarked to The HollywoodReporter in 1969, “Too many people pronounce ‘Anna’ with a flat ‘a’ and it comes out an ugly Aaaana. I want my name more musical sounding, with a broad ‘a,’ like Ahna, so I’m spelling it that way.” Using her new moniker, Capri co-starred with Strother Martin in the creepy horror film Brotherhood of Satan (1971). In the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon (1973), a sort of combination spy, blaxpoitation and kung fu movie, Capri as the insatiable Tania physically stood out as she was the only Caucasian actress in the cast. The exploitation cult classic The Specialist (1975) gave Capri a starring role as an enticing assassin, however she retired from acting shortly thereafter. She tragically died in an auto accident in 2010. You can read more about Ahna Capri in my and Louis Paul’s book Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films & Television, 1962-1973 soon to be out in soft cover.