Now that we've got ELVIRA out of the way, let's go on to the real innovator of Sexy TV Horror Hosts, VAMPIRA. VAMPIRA may be known to most as the freaky wife of Bela Lugosi in PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, but 4 years before Ed Wood cast her in that film, she was the host of a horror movie series for KABC in Los Angeles back in 1954.
Maila Nurmi, who played VAMPIRA, even sued ELVIRA and the producers of her show for ripping of her character. Considering she was a creative consultant to the 1981 show before it aired, she may have had a valid reason behind it, but to think she actually had a shot at starring in it, is a bit absurd, as she would have been 62 at the time.
According to the B-Movie Guide to B Movie Queens (See Below) "After her tenure as a horror hostess and film actress Maila dropped out of sight; she claims to have been blacklisted in Hollywood over her her legal battles to keep the rights to Vampira. Among other things she's been an antique dealer, running a store called Vampira's Attic. In 1980's she made some unsuccessful attempts to return to to television as a horror hostess. In 1995 a rather odd (what else?) documentary on her life appeared, Vampira: About Sex Death and Taxes. She also does the occasional convention and shows up fairly regularly in interviews on matters Ed Wood."
James Dean and Maila were close and were even rumored to have had an affair.