June 1, 1912|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||August 10, 2002
Coral Gables, Florida, U.S.
|Occupation||Director, producer, writer|
Doris Wishman (June 1, 1912 – August 10, 2002) was an American film director, screenwriter and film producer.
Doris Wishman was born on June 1, 1912, in New York City. She was still a child when her mother died. Her father was a hay and grain salesmen who raised her and her five other siblings. She took acting lessons at the Alviene School of Dramatics. She worked as a secretary and a movie booker until she met and married a man by the name of Jack Abrahms. After Abrahms died, Wishman wanted to do something in her life that would keep her busy instead of being a grieving widow.
Early film career
Despite being the cousin of Max Rosenberg, one of the founders of the British Horror production company Amicus Productions, Wishman decided to go into the film business on her own. Recent legislation had allowed nudity to be seen in film if it was in the context of documentary footage. Wishman borrowed $10,000 from her sister, Pearl Kushner. Her first nudie feature was Hideout in the Sun in 1959, a nudist camp documentary. Her next film Nude on the Moon released in 1960, was a science fiction nudie. The film was banned in New York State, as the censor board stated that films featuring nudity in a nudist colony setting was fine, but showing nudity in a science fiction-themed film about a nudist colony on the moon was not fine. One of her next films, Blaze Starr Goes Nudist (1962), included a starring role for the legendary burlesque performer, Blaze Starr. Wishman continued to make films that featured nude women, releasing one or two a year. After eight nudist features, she decided to leave the genre when its popularity started to fade.
Rise in the Sexploitation genre
When beginning her work in the sexploitation genre, she decided to use a pseudonym, "Louis Silverman". One of her first films for the genre Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965), would be considered one of her earliest successes of the genre. This film was her first collaboration with her long-time cinematographer C. Davis Smith, who would work with Wishman until her death. Most of these films were shot in black and white. In 1968 with her film Love Toy she began shooting in color as she went on to do soft-core films. Her biggest claims to fame were two films featuring the sexploitation starlet Chesty Morgan, Deadly Weapons and Double Agent 73. Shot in the vein of sexploitation works by fellow filmmakers like Russ Meyer, the Chesty Morgan films had a high camp factor, with scenes that featured Morgan taking off her top as exaggerated sound effects accentuated the size of her 73-inch bust.
Pornographic and other exploitation work
Later on in her career after her long period of sexploitation work, Wishman went on to direct two hardcore pornographic features titled Satan Was a Lady (1975) and Come With Me, My Love (1976) both of which featured porn star Annie Sprinkle. Wishman was not fond of working on these films and later in her life denied having directed them. She claimed to have left the set during explicit sex scenes, leaving them to the discretion of her camera operator. As her biographer and long time admirer Michael Bowen stated in her New York Times obituary, "She was actually rather sexually naive." He also stated that "She personally thought that someone's hand caressing your face was more erotic than sex itself."
In 1971 she began working on Let Me Die a Woman, a semi-documentary film about sex reassignment surgery that was not released until 1978. It featured many interviews with trans subjects, as well as dramatized scenes about the daily struggles of trans people. One such dramatization featured Deep Throat star Harry Reems.
She later became interested in the slasher film craze that began with films like Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), and Prom Night (1980). Wishman made her own film in this genre titled A Night to Dismember. Initially filmed in 1979, much of the footage was lost by the processing lab and had to be reshot. The movie was finally released in 1983.
Later life and death
After the failure of A Night to Dismember, Wishman moved to Florida in the mid-80s where she worked at a lingerie store. Interest in her work began to slowly increase due to the home video release of many of her films. Cult followings started to form and Wishman was honored at the New York Underground Film Festival. Filmmaker John Waters featured her Chesty Morgan work in his film Serial Mom. Film critic Joe Bob Briggs described Wishman as, "The greatest female exploitation film director in history." Wishman died on August 10, 2002 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida shortly after being treated for lymphoma.
• Hideout in the Sun (1960)
• Nude on the Moon (1961)
• Diary of a Nudist (1961)
• Blaze Starr Goes Nudist (1962)
• Gentlemen Prefer Nature Girls (1963)
• Playgirls International (1963)
• Behind the Nudist Curtain (1964)
• The Prince and the Nature Girl (1964)
• Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965)
• The Sex Perils of Paulette (1965)
• Another Day, Another Man (1966)
• My Brother's Wife (1966)
• A Taste of Her Flesh (1967)
• Indecent Desires (1967)
• Too Much Too Often! (1968)
• Love Toy (1968)
• The Amazing Transplant (1970)
• Keyholes Are for Peeping (1972)
• Deadly Weapons (1973)
• Double Agent 73 (1974)
• The Immoral Three (1975)
• Satan Was a Lady (1975)
• Come with Me, My Love (1976)
• Let Me Die a Woman (1978)
• A Night to Dismember (1983)
• Dildo Heaven (2002)
• Each Time I Kill (2007)
- Doris Wishman at the Internet Movie Database
- Doris Wishman at AllMovie
- Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database
- Ironic Mr Fox John Michael McCarthy's memoire of meeting Doris Wishman at the 1998 New York Underground Film Festival featuring original stills. May 30, 2013