R.I.P. Tura Satana

There are many tributes out there right now, but I want to direct you to this piece Kimberly Lindbergs wrote about her back in 2007. It is a fantastic tribute to this icon, beloved by so many. Tura Satana. This was a gorgeous woman with real hard-life experience, events that would sink even the strongest of us (growing up in a Japanese-American internment camp, raped at the age of 9, reform school as a teen, gang life, etc.) and she had great natural talent as an actress. She is unforgettable.

Here’s a great interview with her. She’s in her 70s here.

And here’s the opening to her most well-known film, Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!:

Don’t miss Kimberly’s post if you want to know more about Ms. Satana. Here’s a brief obit from Dread Central. “Rest in peace, oh great one. And thanks for revving all of our engines now and for years to come.” And here’s another piece, detailing her impact on pop culture. There are people working today who are stealing from Ms. Satana, and probably don’t even know who she is, and think they are stealing from someone else. Such was her great impact.

And finally, a nice NY Times obit.


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8 Responses to R.I.P. Tura Satana

  1. Thanks so much for the generous shout-out, Sheila. I was really crushed when I heard that she had died. And thanks for posting that interview clip! I’d never seen it before and I loved it. I really need to get myself a copy of that Ted V. Mikels doc.

  2. sheila says:

    Kimberly – your piece is amazing. What a life.

    I love that interview clip. She seemed to have such a humorous sense of herself, but also, you STILL get the feeling that you shoud NOT MESS with Tura!!

    The comments on the clip made me a bit angry – she’s 72 years old, she hasn’t “let herself go”, for Christ’s sake. She looked fabulous, and she’s 72. When is a woman allowed to look her age? Ugh.

    But let’s not dwell on that.

    It’s been a bad couple weeks for female icons dying.

    I was thinking, when I heard the news about Satana – that some actors are respected and admired. Some inspire a kind of awe at their skill or talent. Some may be good, but we are indifferent to them. Some inspire a kind of mixture of all of those things. But then there are those that are just plain old loved. She was one of those. You can really feel the emotion in all of the tributes. She means so much to people. You can’t manufacture that. She got that just by doing her thing.


  3. sheila says:

    And you know what? She was right about the spinning tires. The sequence wouldn’t be the same without those shots. Smart lady.

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  5. Thanks again, Sheila! I keep reading articles calling her a “feminist icon” but I don’t remember seeing that mentioned much when I wrote my piece about her back in 2007, but thankfully there’s been a huge surge of interest in Tura in recent years. It probably has something to do with the release of Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE film, which seems to have spawned a new legion of B-movie fans. All for the better of course!

    She looked fabulous, and she’s 72. When is a woman allowed to look her age? Ugh.

    That bugs the hell out of me too! They do it to male actors as well but it’s rarely as brutal or as often. There’s so much ageism in Hollywood and it really disturbs me. That’s the kind of negativity that drives gorgeous actresses to destroy their natural looks with plastic surgery, etc.

    She was right about the spinning tires.

    Absolutely! RIP Tura!!

  6. sheila says:

    Yes, and of course Kill Bill, which is so inspired by Tura!

    And also women are deemed “worthy” from their attractiveness to men whereas men’s “worth” is not measured ENTIRELY based on how attractive women find them. That obviously comes into play, and you can see men doing the same things – dropping the old wife, picking up a newer model, doing all kinds of crazy things when they hit 50. But to say a woman who is in her 70s has “let herself go” (especially knowing the health problems that Satana had, and the hospitalizations – she had a tough tough time there for a while) – it makes it seem like the general populace would rather that women over 30 just not go out of the house. And you’re right – I hate to see these beautiful actresses start younger and younger with the botox, etc. It ruins their faces.

    I hope it’s just a trend. I hope we’ll look back on this time as, “Hey, member when all the women in Hollywood looked so frozen and freakin’ WEIRD??” That would be nice.

    It’s been so nice to see all the emotion today about Satana on FB and Twitter and other places. A fitting tribute.

  7. bethann says:

    Another Elvis girlfriend, Tura Satana. She was instrumental for some of what he enjoyed doing on stage, namely the shimmy which can be seen in the stand-up portion of the Comeback Special singing “Hound Dog”…… good stuff!!!! and he also does the shimmy on a number in That’s the Way It Is, but I can never remember which number, “Suspicious Minds” possibly???? Anyway, she also taught him to move more burlesque in his bumps and grinds in time with the music. Apparently he was fascinated with her show. Of course, what she taught him he took and put his own stamp on it, but he was very much taken with her moves. She also has claimed to be a girlfriend/surrogate for him as late as the mid-60’s. Apparently, she gave him some tips (??) and sized (??) him up too. But if you look at her in the mid-60’s, she has strong resemble to Priscilla (or maybe it was the other way around).

  8. sheila says:

    Yes, I know all that (there’s almost nothing new you could tell me about Elvis!). But I find Tura Satana far more interesting as a person/artist/actress than as just one of Elvis’ girlfriends. She is a beloved icon of a certain era of cinema, and her death brought out a frenzy of tributes that was really heartwarming to see. This woman was loved. And her performances are still iconic, still influential. I think people imitate her without even realizing whom they are imitating.

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