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“Irma la Douce”Tura Satana1963 United Artists© 1978 Leo Fuchs

“Tura Thursday” is a regular series celebrating the legacy of the late, great Tura Satana, best known as Varla in the 1965 Russ Meyer cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. This series is curated by Tura’s longtime manager, friend, confidant and CEO of Tura Satana Productions, Siouxzan Perry.

This week I wanted to focus on Tura’s first film released, IRMA LA DOUCE and a little behind the scenes fact that most of you do not know.

Although Tura’s first film role was in Danny Mann’s comedy WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BED? where she got to dance for Dean Martin, that same year director Billy Wilder and writer/producer I.A.L. Diamond visited the Pink Pussycat Nightclub in Hollywood with their wives where Tura Satana was performing. They were all impressed with Tura’s risqué act and Billy Wilder’s wife suggested that Tura might make the perfect Suzette Wong in Wilder and Diamond’s 1963 film, IRMA LA DOUCE. Wilder agreed and she got the part of the prostitute Suzette Wong in his film…and the rest is history!

It’s been rumored that Tura Satana had an affair with Billy Wilder during the making of IRMA LA DOUCE and if it’s true I wouldn’t be surprised.

Billy Wilder adjusting Tura’s tassels
Billy Wilder adjusting Tura’s tassels

There was a scene at the film’s beginning where star Jack Lemmon rounds up all the “ladies” into the paddy wagon… as the truck is going along it comes to a sudden stop as it almost collides with another car. In that moment all the ladies fell onto Tura and knocked her down as they piled upon her–so much so that she fractured her leg! If you watch carefully in the clip below you can see the look on Tura’s face as it happened. Yes, they left that in the final take.

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For the rest of the film she was virtually hidden behind things…like the pool table in the dance scene..etc. You will also notice that you see her going into the truck
but you do not see her coming out except in this rehearsal shot!

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rehearsal shot...
rehearsal shot…

You’ll notice Tura under Shirley’s arm behind the pool table…which was turned into a lobby card for the film.

"Irma la Douce" (Lobby Card) Shirley MacLaine 1963 United Artists ** Sheryl Deauville Collection
“Irma la Douce” (Lobby Card)
Shirley MacLaine
1963 United Artists
** Sheryl Deauville Collection

Seems Tura lost some choice scenes in that film due to that accident…but her moments on screen made an everlasting impression!

Watch Tura shake up Jack Lemmon in the original film trailer!

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