Mara Corday in 1955
|Playboy centerfold appearance|
|Preceded by||Teri Hope|
|Succeeded by||Joan Staley|
Marilyn Joan Watts|
January 3, 1930
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Bust: 35 in (89 cm)|
Waist: 24 in (61 cm)
Hips: 35 in (89 cm)
|Height||5 ft 5 in (165 cm)|
|Weight||118 lb (54 kg)|
Corday was born in Santa Monica, California. Wanting a career in films, she came to Hollywood while still in her teens and found work as a showgirl at the Earl Carroll Theatre on Sunset Boulevard. Her physical beauty brought jobs as a photographer's model that led to a bit part as a showgirl in the 1951 film Two Tickets to Broadway.
One of Corday's first professional jobs was being a dancer in Earl Carroll's Vanities. Accompanied by her mother, Corday auditioned when she was 15 years old. During the two and a half years that she was in the show, she advanced "from showgirl to actress in the sketches." This was also when she adopted the stage name Mara Corday, because it made her seem more exotic. The name Mara came from a bongo player who called her Marita when she was working as an usher at the Mayan Theater, while Corday was lifted from a perfume bottle.
Corday signed on as a Universal International Pictures (UI) contract player. With UI, Corday was given small roles in various B-movies and television series. In 1954 on the set of Playgirl she met actor Richard Long.
Her roles were small until 1955 when she was cast opposite John Agar and Leo G. Carroll in Tarantula, a Sci-Fi movie that proved successful (with Clint Eastwood in a brief role). She had two other co-starring roles in that genre with The Black Scorpion and The Giant Claw (both 1957), as well as in a number of Western films such as Man Without a Star and Raw Edge. Film critic Leonard Maltin said Corday had "more acting ability than she was permitted to exhibit."
A few years after her husband's death in 1974, Corday's friend Eastwood offered her a chance to return to filmmaking with a role in his 1977 film The Gauntlet. She had a brief-but-significant role in Sudden Impact (1983), where she played the waitress dumping sugar into Harry Callahan's coffee in that movie's iconic "Go ahead, make my day" sequence. And she acted with Eastwood again in Pink Cadillac (1989) as well as in her last film, 1990's The Rookie.
Following the 1955 death of Suzan Ball, the first wife of actor Richard Long, Corday began dating Long, and they married in 1957. Through Long's sister Barbara, Corday was a sister-in-law of actor Marshall Thompson. In the early 1960s, Corday gave up her career to devote herself to raising a family. Widowed in 1974, she and Long had three children during their 17-year marriage: Valerie, Carey, and Gregory. Corday has also been a lifelong friend of actor Clint Eastwood, whom she met while working for Universal Pictures.
- Two Tickets to Broadway (1951) - Showgirl / Passerby on Sidewalk (uncredited)
- Sea Tiger (1952) - Lola, Hotel Proprietress
- Son of Ali Baba (1952) - Girl on Balcony (uncredited)
- Toughest Man in Arizona (1952) - Bit Role (uncredited)
- The Lady Wants Mink (1953) - Model
- Problem Girls (1953) - Dorothy Childers
- Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953) - Locopo Woman (uncredited)
- Sweethearts on Parade (1953) - Belle
- Money from Home (1953) - Waitress (uncredited)
- Yankee Pasha (1954) - Harem Girl (uncredited)
- Playgirl (1954) - Pam
- Drums Across the River (1954) - Sue
- Francis Joins the WACS (1954) - Kate
- Dawn at Socorro (1954) - Letty Diamond
- So This Is Paris (1954) - Yvonne
- Man Without a Star (1955) - Moccasin Mary
- The Man from Bitter Ridge (1955) - Holly Kenton
- Tarantula (1955) - Stephanie 'Steve' Clayton
- Foxfire (1955) - Maria - Hugh's Nurse
- Raw Edge (1956) - Paca
- A Day of Fury (1956) - Sharman Fulton
- Naked Gun (1956) - Louisa Jackson / Morales
- The Quiet Gun (1957) - Irene
- The Giant Claw (1957) - Sally Caldwell
- Undersea Girl (1957) - Valerie Hudson
- The Black Scorpion (1957) - Teresa Alvarez
- Girls on the Loose (1958) - Vera Parkinson
- The Gauntlet (1977) - Jail Matron
- Sudden Impact (1983) - Loretta - Coffee Shop Waitress
- Pink Cadillac (1989) - Stick Lady
- The Rookie (1990) - Interrogator #2 (final film role)
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