Irish McCalla – Queen of the Jungle
Nellie Elizabeth “Irish” McCalla (December 25, 1928 – February 1, 2002)
Irish McCalla was not your typical 1950’s pin-up. Not the demure Betty Page type, Irish was big! Standing 5’10” and incredibly busty (37-24-38), Irish was hugely popular in the early 50’s, posing for pin-up king, Antonio Varga and appearing in tons of magazines. From 1955-58 she became “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle”, acting in the syndicated serialization of the same name for 26 episodes. She would play bit parts in TV and movies in the early sixties but called it quits by 1969 when she was diagnosed w/ a brain tumor. Over the years she would deal w/ 4 more tumors and eventually pass away in 2002 at the age of 73 from complications.
A story from her Sheena days goes that she did her own vine-swinging and tree-climbing with her pet chimp, Chim, until the day she misjudged a vine swing and crashed into a tree, smashing her knee and breaking an arm. After that, the producers did the only thing they could do (due to her size), they hired male stunt men, and dressed them in leopard skins and blond wigs.