Savannah (pornographic actress)

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Savannah db autocolor.jpg
Born Shannon Michelle Wilsey[1]
(1970-10-09)October 9, 1970[2]
Laguna Beach, California, U.S.[2]
Died July 11, 1994(1994-07-11) (aged 23)[2]
Burbank, California, U.S.
Other names Silver Cane, Silver Kane,[2] Savanah, Silver
Ethnicity Caucasian[2]
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)[2]
Weight 105 lb (48 kg; 7.5 st)[2]
No. of adult films 122 (per IAFD)[2]

Shannon Michelle Wilsey (October 9, 1970 – July 11, 1994), better known by her stage name of Savannah, was an American pornographic film actress, starring in more than one hundred videos during her career. One of the most prominent adult-industry models of her time, she achieved notoriety within her short (1990–1994) career due to her on-screen presence and personal life.[1] In January 2002, AVN ranked her at #19 on their list of the top 50 porn stars of all time.[3]

Wilsey reportedly took her stage name from Savannah Smiles, a 1982 movie she enjoyed.[4] She died in 1994 in the hospital after a suicide attempt.


Wilsey was introduced to the adult film industry by actor and director Rex Cabo.[5] She signed an exclusive contract with Vivid Entertainment in 1991 and became one of the earliest Vivid Girls. Wilsey began using drugs and spending large amounts of money, and she reportedly had severe financial troubles despite her substantial income. She also garnered a reputation for being temperamental,[6] leading Vivid to sever its association with her in 1992.

Wilsey also appeared in a variety of minor roles in B movies (mostly comedy, horror and/or scifi) where she was credited with her real name. These roles included The Invisible Maniac in 1990[7] and Camp Fear in 1991.[8]

She also had a credit for her performance on a soundtrack in the 1991 video The Spectacle.[9] Wilsey had a role in the video as well.[10]

Even after her death, Wilsey continued to appear via archived footage. She had a role as Santana on Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater when the show aired Sorority House Massacre II in October 1994.[11] This continued with Sinderella and Where the Boys Aren't: Part IV - Boarding House Blues, Too in 1995 plus Direct Dial in 1997.[9] As recently as 2012, archive footage has been used to release new adult videos.[9]

Personal life[edit]

In 1972 when she was just two, Wilsey's parents divorced. She grew up in Texas with her mother and then, after a brief stay with her father in Oxnard, CA, lived with her grandparents in Mission Viejo, where she became a high school cheerleader. Her manager, Nancy Pera, said that Wilsey told her that her childhood was unhappy and that she had been molested. Wilsey's father, Mike, said his daughter never told him about any such abuse.[12]

She began dating rock star Gregg Allman while still in high school, eventually going on tour with him for several years. After returning to California, she decided on a career in the entertainment industry. Her symmetrical good looks, enhanced by two separate breast enlargements, and her pale blond hair brought her to the attention of Vivid Video in Van Nuys where she was signed as a contract Vivid Girl.[12]

In a video interview for Vivid, Wilsey stated that the first time she saw "erotic material" was when she was "snooping through her parents' things" and found some magazines. She later states that she used to watch porn videos with her boyfriend on his tour bus (presumably referring to Allman).[13][14]

Wilsey became involved in a long-term relationship with fellow pornographic actress Jeanna Fine, with whom she later claimed to have fallen deeply in love.[15] In a 1999 interview following the airing of the E! Channel True Hollywood Story about Wilsey's life and death, Fine commented, "We had an ongoing, on-again, off-again, volatile, loving relationship. At that time I was having a lot of problems myself. Between [male porn actor] Sikki Nixx and Savannah pushing and pulling, I pretty much at one point ran away from them both. I couldn't take it any longer. But I feel I left her behind when she needed me most. It's very sad."[16]

She also had relationships with singer Billy Idol, comedian Pauly Shore,[17] bassist Billy Sheehan, guitarist Slash,[17] actor Mark Wahlberg,[13] and Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe.[18] According to an interview with Adult Video News, Wilsey stated "I love sex and I love sex with rockers more than anything else..."[1]


Wilsey committed suicide in 1994 by shooting herself after a car accident.[1][17][19] On the evening of 11 July 1994, Wilsey was involved in an accident with her Corvette where she reportedly broke her nose and injured her face. Upset over the accident, she went home in Universal City, asked a friend to walk her dog, and then called her manager Nancy Pera. It was Pera that discovered Wilsey's body in the garage of her home.[1] Wilsey did not immediately die, she passed away hours later in the hospital after her father decided to shut down her life support systems when it became obvious that she would not survive her injury.[1][12] Shore stated that he was with her when she passed in St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank.[20]

Her funeral was two days later and was attended by friends, family, and limited numbers of Adult industry associates. Shore was the only one of her ex-boyfriends to attend the service.[1] Of Wilsey, Shore said, "She was the nicest, most beautiful girl I ever met," "[her death] was a very dramatic thing for me." When asked why she killed herself, he said, "She became Savannah. She became her character, who was into drugs, and needed reassurance all the time. She forgot who Shannon was." "I knew she wanted out (of the porn business)," he said.[20]

Wilsey's death was the third high profile suicide (at the time) in the Adult industry.[1] After her death, Bill Margold founded Protecting Adult Welfare (P.A.W.), a non-profit organization that provides counseling for adult performers in need.[21]


After her death, Wilsey was profiled in two different documentaries. The Playboy Entertainment Group produced Playboy: The Story of X in 1998 which featured archival footage of her.[22] Then in 1999, the E! network aired an episode of their True Hollywood Story television series dedicated to Wilsey's early life, family, career, and unexpected death.[23]

The songs "Savannah Smiles" and "Shannon Wilsey on the Starry Stairs" by Okkervil River and "Savannah: Flights of Ecstasy" by Sheavy are both in homage to Wilsey.[24]

In February 2014 in the Southern California publication OC Weekly, Wilsey was featured and remembered as not only an Orange County resident, but as "Arguably the first superstar porn goddess of the 1990s".[25]


Mainstream filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1990 The Invisible Maniac[7] Vicky Credited as Shannon Wilsey
Sorority House Massacre II[28] Satana
1991 Camp Fear[8] Dorm Girl
Legal Tender[29] Mal's Gals
1999 E! True Hollywood Story[30] Herself (archive footage) Episode: "Savannah"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Suicide of Young Superstar Weighs on Porn Industry Tragedy: Pampered, wild Shannon Wilsey, known as Savannah, was the third actress to take her life.", by John Johnson, July 16, 1994, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Savannah". Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "AVN's Top 50 Porn Stars of All Time [January 2002]". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  4. ^ Staff. "Savannah". Vivid Video. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Actor-Director Rex Cabo Dies in Suicide Jump". AVN. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2013-09-27. 
  6. ^ Stanton, Hal. "15 Suspicious Adult Film Star Deaths". Originally, became Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Staff. "The Invisible Maniac (1990) 86 min - Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi - 13 July 1990 (USA)". Amazon via IMDb. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Staff. "Camp Fear (1991 Video) Full Cast & Crew". Amazon via IMDb. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c Staff. "Savannah (I) (1970–1994) Actress, Soundtrack". Amazon via IMDb. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Staff. "The Spectacle (1991 Video) Full Cast & Crew". Amazon. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Staff. "Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater Episode dated 8 October 1994". Amazon via IMDb. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Hassell, Kevin. "Savannah". Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Staff. "Savannah". Vivid Video. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "The Life and Death of Savannah". E! True Hollywood Story, exerpt. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  15. ^ Sager, Mike (2003), Scary Monsters and Super Freaks: Stories of Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N' Roll and Murder, Thunder's Mouth Press, p. 45, ISBN 1-56025-563-3 
  16. ^ Staff. "Jeanna Fine Comments on Savannah Documentary". Adult Video News. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c "Getting Mellow: The Evolution of Pauly Shore Acting: The death of his ex-girlfriend, a porn film actress, may be the turning point in the comedian's life. He wants to shed his party-boy persona.", by James Grant, August 9, 1994, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  18. ^ Sager, Mike, Tattoos & Tequila 
  19. ^ "'I don't blame the industry for mistreating her. If anything, they spoiled her rotten.' Porn Star Puts an End to Her Life in the Fast Lane", by John Johnson, July 16, 1994, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  20. ^ a b GRANT, JAMES (August 9, 1994). "Getting Mellow: The Evolution of Pauly Shore Acting: The death of his ex-girlfriend, a porn film actress, may be the turning point in the comedian's life. He wants to shed his party-boy persona.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  21. ^ Carlos Martinez (2006-11-16). "Stevi Secrets to Host P.A.W. Foundation Fundraiser". AVN. Retrieved 2013-09-27. 
  22. ^ Staff. "Playboy: The Story of X (1998) Video 82 min - Documentary, Adult". Amazon. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Staff. "E! True Hollywood Story Savannah (31 Oct. 1999) TV Episode - Documentary, Biography, Crime". Amazon. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Peter Warren (2007-08-20). "Indie Rock Band Records Ode to Savannah". AVN. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  25. ^ Gustavo, Arellano; Ferguson, Brandon; Sakai, Shuji (Feb 14, 2013). "America's Porn Paradise! Jenna Haze, Aurora Snow, Dani Daniels and more of the 20 greatest adult film actors and actresses in OC history". Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "1992 winners". AVN Awards. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  27. ^ "Adult Video News Award Winners - 1995". RAME. 1996-01-08. Retrieved 2014-05-26. 
  28. ^ "Full cast and crew for Sorority House Massacre II (1990)". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  29. ^ "Full cast and crew for Legal Tender (1991)". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  30. ^ "E! True Hollywood Story: Savannah". IMDb. 1999-10-31. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 

External links[edit]