“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.
To read, Part 1 of “Tura Satana Meets Harold Lloyd” click here.
Thank you Harold Lloyd for “encouraging all talent that you found.”
The greatest comedian of the silent era, Harold Lloyd, was also a passionate 3-D photographer, and few Hollywood stars of the Fifties escaped his double lenses. In fact, Lloyd amassed a collection of some 300,000 photographs of naked women. His art nude studies have been questioned as to their pornographic content, but, in fact were all processed by Eastman labs which had very strict rules about acceptable content. Just in case today’s internet censoring body may feel differently, we have covered the bits of Tura that may offend (but the clean versions are of course readily available on the net).
Tura was one of the then budding Hollywood starlets who did not escape Harold’s lenses. In her autobiography, “My Kickass Life”, Tura writes about the events leading up to the encounter and the stunning photos he took of her at screenplay writer and director John W. “Jack” McDermott’s famous Spiderpool.
“I’d been at the Moulin Rouge for about 6 months when Turk Prujan, the owner of the Trocadero supper club, came in. I knew that he had just opened a very posh nightclub on the Sunset Strip. He asked if I wanted to come to work for him and I said Yes! Turk was very flattering in his regard for me. He was another one who loved to hear me sing. (You have to understand that at one time I had over 4 1/2 octaves in vocal range. I wish I had it now!) One night, one of the dancers didn’t show up, and the show would have been short so Turk asked me if I would sing. I said “Sure,” and that was the start of my entertainment career. I used to sing at all the school assemblies. While I was singing, I would dance around as well and that was enjoyable for the audiences. I guess that if I wanted to, I could have stayed there and become a polished entertainer then.
Well, during this time period, I wound up getting make up poisoning; my face broke out terribly from it. I couldn’t work in the entertainment industry because you had to look good for that. As a waitress, the bosses were afraid that I would scare business away, so I had to become a photographer’s model. I just kept a mask on my face, because mostly they wanted to shot the body anyway. That was where I met Harold Lloyd, the great comedian of silent films. He was so nice, and after quite some time when my face had cleared, he asked if I would pose nude for him. I told him that I didn’t do that type of modeling but he said that he would make sure that there was a female present at all times and that he just wanted to take my pictures because “the camera loved me.” He was the one who told me that I should become an actress, and that I would be good at it. Harold was one of the sweetest persons that I ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was a really good inspiration to me. He had no prejudices regarding my nationality or anything else. He encouraged all talent that he found.
The only thing wrong was that every one of the casting directors would want to bed me. I told him that I would have to think about it. Even though my face had cleared up a lot, the rash went down my body and I wasn’t able to continue modeling. Mr. Lloyd gave me the money to go back home to Chicago, and for the medication I needed for the rash. He was one of the sweetest people that I had ever met in Hollywood and he made me want to come back. The photos that he took of me at that time were so beautifully done, that I always wish that I had some copies of them. I never knew what he did with them, because they never appeared in any magazines or books, but they were absolutely lovely. They had all been taken in his garden at his home and at the beach house; also by his waterfall. He told me that if I ever came back to Hollywood that he would make me up some copies, but he died before I ever did that.”
Harold Lloyd was a true visionary and was one of the first in the business who seriously knew Tura was perfect for the silver screen, for which we are all greatly indebted.
Tura never did get to see the prints or the book “Harold Lloyd’s Hollywood Nudes in 3-D!” published by his daughter Suzanne Lloyd with 200 of his photos and a forward by Richard Wagner. Approximately 75, including Tura, Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page and Dixie Evans are reproduced in 3D, and can be viewed with the aid of the special “Harold Lloyd-style” glasses included with the book.
And what happened to the Spider pool? Although McDermott’s house was torn down in 1962, the iconic mural can still be seen, echoing the the memories of the many beautiful bodies which were captured in Lloyd’s camera there.