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March 23, 1946 |
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
A native of Pittsburgh, Lori Williams had, in her late teens and early twenties, a very brief acting career which, in addition to Pussycat, consists of billed roles in only two other films. The first, A Swingin' Summer, made the same year, is a beach musical filmed primarily at Southern California's Lake Arrowhead. Lori Williams, whose character is appropriately called "Dancer", is listed second, after James Stacy, but most of the attention is directed to bikini-clad Raquel Welch in her film debut. The second and final appearance occurred two years later in another very similar picture, 1967's It's a Bikini World where, true to its title, she, along with numerous other female cast members, spends the entire film in scanty beach attire. Now listed in eighth place, her character didn't even have a name, being billed simply as "Girl", with her dialogue reduced to only a few lines.
Tom Lisanti, in his 2003 book Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-Movie Starlets of the Sixties, recounted that during 1963-64, Lori Williams drifted into films as an extra and bit player in Elvis Presley vehicles and AIP "beach party" musicals which, aimed at a primarily teenage audience, heavily depended on scores of attractive young girls as background distraction. While working as an unbilled bit player in two of Presley's 1964 films, Kissin' Cousins (released March 6) and Roustabout (released November 11), Lori Williams, then 17, and Elvis Presley became a short-lived couple and, in her recollection, their "courtship was not some bizarre story. It was very sweet and Elvis was the perfect gentleman".
Williams' specialized place in film history was assured the following year when Russ Meyer cast her in what aficionados of the psychotronic genre consider his most visceral endeavor, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. As the trio's only member who appeared to be more fun-loving, rather than depraved or malevolent, she met a grisly end at the hands of the group's vicious leader (Tura Satana). Despite a few encouraging reviews, Pussycat suffered the fate of all other Meyer films—being shunted to exploitation grindhouses. In the wake of the wholesale conversion of the film and television industry to color at the start of the 1966 TV season, the black-and-white 1965 film was shelved for over a decade until, in 1978, celebrity director John Waters, notorious for glorifying "cinema of bad taste", gave Pussycat a new lease on life by declaring it to be his favorite film. Other "fringe" and, subsequently, mainstream personalities added their voices to the mix and Pussycat's iconic status within the genre was assured.
At that point, however, Lori Williams was no longer in the public eye. After 1967's Bikini World, she seemed to have slowly retreated from performing, although evidence remains of her appearances as an extra or in bit parts within the framing/linking segments of ABC's hour-long anthology of sitcom sketches, Love, American Style. The appearances, during the show's first season (1969–70), are fleeting and intermittent and she does not receive billing in the credits, thus making it difficult to discern the extent and time frame of her participation.
After a decade of apparent inactivity, a final uncertain credit for Lori Williams has been listed in the filmed-for-HBO version of the Children's Theater Company & School of Minneapolis 1981 production of The Marvelous Land of Oz. Her character has no specific, personally directed dialogue and, being shown only as a member of a large group, with no close-up provided, recognition and confirmation cannot be assured.
Reappearance in the Pussycat documentary
Williams resurfaced in the March 2005 30-minute documentary Go, Pussycat, Go!, reminiscing with co-stars Tura Satana, Haji and Susan Bernard about the 40th anniversary of the making of the Russ Meyer grindhouse classic.
- Get Yourself a College Girl (1964)
- A Swingin' Summer (1965)
- Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
- It's a Bikini World (1967)