Craig Stevens

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Va-Va-Villainess: Mara Corday

Published May 23, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Mara Corday (1954)

“A disgusting turn of events, Mr. Gunn. You’ve wasted everybody’s evening. It’s going to cost you!” – Emily (Mara Corday)

Keep Smiling, the 26th episode of Peter Gunn, the suave jazz flecked detective series created by Blake Edwards, has to be one of the hippest half hours of television ever produced. Directed by the legendary Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man), this episode accentuates its coolness most fully at the story’s midpoint. As acclaimed drummer Shelly Manne manipulates the skins on stage, Gunn (Craig Stevens) puts the hooks into Mara Corday’s sexy serial blackmailer while an eager whistleblower (played by The Addams Family’s Jackie Coogan) looks on.

Mara TarantulaCorday, of course, efficiently and naturally played a series of valiant heroines in such science fiction-horror pictures as The Giant Claw, The Black Scorpion and (the Arnold directed) Tarantula. Here, she obviously relishes being the bad girl, biting into her lines with acidic menace. It’s a tart performance that radiates with a calm evil, proving that Corday was a step above many of the other model-actresses who played similar roles in that same period of time.

The 90-year-old Corday, who parlayed her longtime friendship with Clint Eastwood into roles in several of his films, is still active at http://maracorday.com/. Those wishing to indulge in the full ecstasies of her presence can find Keep Smiling on Amazon Prime, as well.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Margarita Cordova

Published March 1, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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Peter Gunn, the ultra cool private eye series created by Blake Edwards, definitely featured its share of shady ladies over its 3 often irresistible seasons (1958-1961). Of course, all of these women radiated spunk and beauty. But the most dynamic of those varied and capable performers has to be Margarita Cordova who, over the course of two episodes, skillfully danced, sang and played guitar along with the other expected prerequisites of her acting assignments. Margarita Dance

Granted, her last appearance in the show’s Cry Love, Cry Murder offering found her in more valiant territory, portraying a character that exposes the schemes of family member with a firm yet tear stained heart.

Her first runaround with Craig Stevens’ unflappable Gunn was a bit more insidious, though. As Elena, the mistress of a two timing scoundrel in the Mask of Murder offering, Cordova willing delivers the series’ titular hero to death’s door. Gunn, naturally, survives…as the alert Elena slinks off to presumably charm other suckers. Cordova fills this determined schemer with a strong survivor’s instinct mixed with a sly bit of seductive minx, providing for a most memorable villainess with plenty of (the above mentioned) va-va-voom to spare.

Margarita Mission ImpossibleDecades later, Cordova found her biggest fame as a regular on two NBC soap operas. As the matriarchal Rosa Andrade on Santa Barbara, she provided a noble sternness. She was given even more creative freedom, though, as Sunset Beach’s truly memorable Carmen Torres. Vengefully opposing the romantic union of her beloved (former priest) son with his brother’s ex-fiancée, Cordova took the mother in law from hell act to deliciously glorious heights.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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