Way back when I started this blog — darn, missed the anniversary! — one of the first posts I made was about the birthday of Ms. Kathy Ireland. After I made the post, I realized there were a number of women from MST3K movies that I was quite fond of, for one reason or another. And so, the Ladies of MST3K feature was born. I managed one more post but, sadly, it mostly died on the spot.
This past Thursday, however, was the birthday of one of my favorite MST3K dreamgirls, Allison Hayes. So, it’s time for me to break out the defibrillator and pump some life back into this feature. If you click past the cut break, you’ll find some info on Ms. Hayes, as well as my fanboyish droolings. And pictures. Saucy, saucy pictures.
Born Mary Jane Hayes, Allison’s first work was in the film Francis (yes, the talking mule) Joins The WACS. That definitely wasn’t a sign of things to come, though. She generally ended up playing horror movie victims, femme fatales, eye candy, you name it. (Oddly, her largely-dramatic movie career began with a comedy and ended with one — Tickle Me, an Elvis romp.) Still, whatever role she had, chances are that you would find her squeezed into some spine-crushing undergarment.
But coincidentally, her most popular role actually involved wearing some rather comfortable-looking undergarments — and not much else — as the titular character from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (above, left). Since the film achieved cult status, it’s easily become her most well-known role. Sadly, none of her other performances have gotten as much attention. She mostly got small roles in good films, big roles in bad films, and a fair number of TV guest spots.
As for her personal life, it unfortunately had more than its fair share of troubles. On her second film, Sign of the Pagan, she broke her ribs, resulting in a lawsuit that caused Allison to lose her role in the film Foxfire. Later, while filming Roger Corman’s Gunslinger, she broke her arm. (More on that later.) And that was hardly the worst of it. It turns out that she was being slowly poisoned by the lead content of a dietary supplement that she’d been taking for years.
She successfully campaigned to get the supplement banned, but that didn’t occur until 1976. At that point, it was too late for her failing body. That same year, she died of leukemia at the age of only 46.
As for MST3K output, she appeared in four episodes of the show. Her first was arguably her least interesting, in episode 106’s The Crawling Hand. She was featured much more prominently in season three’s The Unearthly, however, as one of Dr. John Carradine’s victims. She shared eye candy duties with the also-lovely Sally Todd (whom you might see in this feature someday). Neither of these episodes, nor the movies featured in them, were particularly — oh, what’s the word? — good.
But Gunslinger? Ah, yes. Gunslinger. Another classic Corman clusterf–k. Allison played the nasty saloon owner, a sort of evil Miss Kitty. While the picture was a delightful piece of crap, mostly thanks to Corman’s ineptitude and our beloved Beverly Garland, Hayes didn’t seem to enjoy it much. Allison ended up breaking her arm during filming, either from falling off a horse or from her on-screen brawl with Garland. (I’ve read conflicting reports.) In one outburst, legend has it that Hayes once exclaimed, “Who do I have to f–k to get off this picture?” Oh, Allison. How I love thee.
However, it must not have been enough to keep her away from Corman forever. And it’s a good thing, too, as episode 806, featuring Corman’s The Undead, is easily my favorite of her performances. Here she portrayed the imp-wielding witch Livia, a character practically poured into her dress. Livia is so amazing, in fact, that she can behead innkeepers with nary a drop of blood spilled! Amazing. Not her loveliest character, but she certainly looked her loveliest.
Anyway, though her life was far less than perfect, and her career probably wasn’t what she once hoped it would be, I’m quite fond of her. She was beautiful, feisty, and she brightened up many a crappy movie, for me. RIP, Allison.