I just read my Blog post tribute to Jill Haworth at her touching memorial this past Thursday and now have to report the passing of yet another 60s starlet. Tura Satana of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! fame died on Feb. 4 due to heart failure. Below is a portion of my profile on her from my book Glamour Girls of ’60s Hollywood:
Tura Satana was spotted by director Billy Wilder while working at the Pink Pussycat Club and he cast her as Suzette Wong, an Asian hooker in Irma La Douce (1963) starring Jack Lemmon as a Parisian policeman who assumes a double life to keep streetwalker Shirley MacLaine with whom he has fallen in love with away from her other clients. 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).
She then was cast in the role of a lifetime—the man-hating viper Varla in Russ Meyer’s 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, 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 [but today is a camp cult classic and one of my favorite drive-in movies of the decade.]