edit 5/3/11: Welcome, Yvette Vickers fans! For those unfamiliar with the site who are just swinging by to take a gander at Ms. Vickers’ Playboy spread, a quick heads-up — clicking on any picture enlarges it. Have fun!
I know it isn’t technically seasonally appropriate anymore, but as it’s going to hit 99, Fahrenheit, where I am today, and as I did not get around to all my saved up Girls of Summer, and as I promised to cover Ms. Vickers when discussing Fifty Foot Woman, I figured you wouldn’t mind if I made the summer a little more endless around here.
Ms. Vickers’ spread appeared after her part as Honey Parker in Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and some other delightful B-flicks, but the Playboy write-up does not report this and focuses instead on her early love of coffeehouses and the bohemian lifestyle. It’s an interesting glimpse at her life outside of stardom, especially given that she was sort of stuck in these roles as a sexy blonde starlet which belied her active intellect and charming, offbeat personal interests. Of course, there was a lot of that going around back then: ask Ms. Monroe and Ms. Tate, right?
When [Playboy] spied Yvette Vickers at a small table in Hollywood’s Cosmo Alley, that question became an affirmative, exclamatory statement. Yvette — though possibly a mite more attractive than most — is representative of the girls who inhabit the beat coffee houses of Hollywood.
(“Beat Playmate.” Playboy, July 1959.)
She’s interested in serious acting, ballet, the poetry of Dylan Thomas, classical music (“Prokofiev drives me out of my skull!”). She has strong opinions and is more than a bit of a rebel, frowning prettily on conformity. She is also reckless and uninhibited enough to race a Jag in the desert for kicks.
Right on! Big ups to Prokofiev (Peter and the Wolf, “The March of the Three Oranges”) and dragging Jags! And of course, mad props to going ungently into the night with Dylan Thomas.
So for 1959, she was well ahead of the health food curve. Don’t you love how “organic food restaurant” is in scare quotes? It’s cute. This write-up just tickles me. I think it is really cool and neat that Yvette Vickers was a beatnik.
It’s not a total surprise — Ms. Vickers was raised by two jazz musicians, Charlie and Iola Vedder (she went by Maria), with whom Yvette traveled the country and also recorded. They later settled in Los Angeles, where Ms. Vickers attended Catholic high school. (You know we Catholic girls start much too late!) Before catching the acting bug, she took classes at UCLA to become a writer. She then earned her B.A. in Theater Arts.
Films in which Ms. Vickers appeared include Reform School Girl, Shortcut to Hell, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, Attack of the Giant Leeches, and Beach Party (she played “Blonde Yoga Girl — recall our previous discussion of the AIP beach flicks?). She also had small roles in Sunset Blvd and Hud, but you know I’m far more in love with the wonderful B-credits.
Ms. Vickers was also featured in a slew of television parts, with roles on highly popular shows like Mike Hammer, Bat Masterson, the Rough Riders, The Texan, Northwest Passage, and Dragnet. In his book Stephen King: On Writing, Stephen King listed Yvette Vickers as one of his “matinee idols.”
The photographer of this spread, Russ Meyer, has had a long and (in my book) illustrious career which must really deserve its own entry one of these days. As this is Ms. Vickers’ entry, I will wind down by saying that the lovely and talented singer, model, and actress has continued to work in the arts and keeps on rocking in the free world. You can hear Yvette on the audio commentary track of the 2007 DVD release of Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and pick up her CD “Tribute to Charlie and Maria,” a jazz album she dedicated to her parents in the late 90′s — and keep your eyes peeled for her forthcoming autobiography.