Actress Tura Satana dies

Actress of Russ Meyer’s 1965 cult film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Tura Satana, has died.

The exotic artiste passed away at the age 72 in her home in Reno, Nevada, according to her longtime manager, Siouxzan Perry. However there is some uncertainty surrounding her actual birth year, which has been cited as 1935 by some other sources, according to the New York Times.

Perry confirmed the death and said it is believed to have been caused by heart failure.

Born Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi in Hokkaido, Japan, to a father of Japanese and Filipino descent and a mother who was Cheyenne Indian and Scots-Irish, Satana spent some of her childhood in California before her family settled in Chicago.

She developed very early and, despite being a good student, was constantly harassed for her figure and Asian heritage. According to biographer Jimmy McDonough, Satana was gang raped by a group of five men on her way home from school one day, none of whom were ever charged.

The incident apparently prompted her to learn martial arts and hunt down each man to get revenge for what they had done. “I made a vow to myself that I would someday, somehow get even with all of them,” she reportedly said years later. “They never knew who I was until I told them.”

It also sent Satana down a potentially destructive path. After trying (and failing) her hand at blues singing at the age of 13, thanks to a fake ID, she became and exotic dancer and posed nude in photos for silent screen comic Harold Lloyd, who did not know she was underage. It was he who suggested the buxom brunette gives acting a go.

Her breakthrough role came in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, a Russ Meyer exploitation film that, in stark opposition to the director’s later works, featured no nudity. Satana played Varla, the leader of a gang of go-go dancers who kidnap a couple, murder the boyfriend and force the girlfriend to follow them on further lawless adventures.

[adsense]Her portrayal of the brazenly violent and unapologetically feminine Varla, who was not in the habit of putting up with men who ogled her – when a gas-station attendant tells her he believes in “seeing America first,” Varla replies, “You won’t find it down there, Columbus!” – earned her a cult following, which has endured. The no-nonsense approach of her character has also inspired later generations and is echoed in movies such as Xena, Warrior Princess and Kill Bill.

Satana leaves behind two daughters, Kalani and Jade, and two sisters, Pamela and Kim, according to her manager Perry, who also said a memorial service was being planned for around July 10, Satana’s birthday.

Other greats who have recently passed away include Last Tango in Paris actress Maria Schneider, producer Bernd Eichinger, actress Susannah York, fitness guru Jack Lalanne and music legend Captain Beefheart.

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