A Tribute To British Actress Vanessa Howard…
You may not know here, but for a short period of time, Actress Vanessa Howard was poised for stardom…so what happened?
My “2021 Sex Kitten Countdown” has a look at her life – and her disappearance!
She was born Vanessa Tolhurst in Sussex England in 1948.
Howard began acting when she was twenty, appearing with the Horror Actor Peter Cushing in “The Blood Beach Terror” in 1968, along with the sex comedy “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”
Howard appeared in a number of great, neglected British horror films like “Corruption” from 1968…look at this lurid poster for the film – which was just recently released on blu-ray for a whole new generation to enjoy…it’s a really good thriller that evokes a different time for sure!
One of her most provocative films came in 1970 – the name of the film was “The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer” and featured a candid nude scene:
That same year, she was “Girly” – a very quirky British horror gem that had a classic poster!
I always seek out the best of the new – and the neglected – horror films that are available on blu-ray..and when I find a picture like this:
I am curious, naturally – I mean, the guy in the sand seems to be having a bad day in the sandbox….now add this great movie poster:
And you know what? I’m hooked! And you will be too when you uncover the wacky antics of this campy cult horror class known as “Girly!” I mean, you have to celebrate a neglected horror movie that had the audacity to originally be called:
“MUMSY, SONNY, NANNY AND GIRLY!”
Yes, “Girly!” is obscure cinema of the highest order -but it was still Howard’s biggest hit!
Variety described “Girly” as:
“A macabre combo of Disney and Hammer films!”
Check out this campy trailer:
Adolescent brother and sister Girly and Sonny live in a decaying countryside mansion run by their Mumsy and their maid-attired Nanny – hence the original wacky title!
“MUMSY, SONNY, NANNY AND GIRLY!”
Yes, there they are – quite a foursome, and what a title! No wonder they shortened it to just “Girly!” That said, it gives absolutely NO idea of what lies ahead for the viewer!
Here’s the plot: Girly and Sonny bring playmates home to indulge in bizarre, child-like games at the insistence of Mumsy and Nanny.
Oh, and she likes to suck his thumb as well…that’s much for fun than what they do with strangers…
Yes, they use many of their childhood toys, like the sandbox, to “finish their business” with their new friends…as you can see, “Girly” is a lot of fun to be around, but a deadly friend to have!
But things change when one new friend plays along with the oddball quartet, using sexual tension to ultimately turn the family unit against each other!
This is quite the oddball film: directed by acclaimed Cinematographer Freddie Francis, and certainly “of its time” – but that is what gives it a quirky charm, and Vanessa Howard does a great job of holding your attention!
Vanessa next appeared in the Amicus thriller “WHAT BECAME OF JACK AND JILL?”
I found one of my newspaper ads growing up in Seattle – the film was on a double bill with “The Strange Vengeance Of Rosalie” – note about the lead Actresses have their names under the wrong films!
At this point, Vanessa dropped out of sight, leading to this story in a paper:
No Mystery, Just A Big Move!
As it turns out, there was no mystery at all…even though she was working steadily, Vaness moved to the US In the early seventies after marrying Hollywood Producer Robert Chartoff (Up the Sandbox (1972), They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969).
Enjoying life in Beverly Hills, she claimed her acting career in Britain was just “drifting”. She admitted that two of her final films didn’t get as much attention as she’d hoped, so she lost the acting “bug.”
Sadly, Vanessa died in 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
She was one of a number of British Actresses making a name in horror in the early 70’s:
Suzy Kendall was in “Torso” and more – click here to see her story:
Yutte Stensgaard moved to London at the end of the 60’s and had a great Hammer horror career:
She appeared in some classic cult films and you can see them all here:
And let’s all forget Felicity Devonshire:
She bared all in a number of cult films and you can see them all here:
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So check out the campy horror of “Girly” and keep the spirit of Vanessa Howard alive!