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Mara Corday

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Mara Corday
Publicity still for Man Without a Star (1955)
Marilyn Joan Watts

(1930-01-03) January 3, 1930 (age 94)
  • Actress
  • showgirl
  • model
Years active1948–1990
Known for
Height5 ft 5 in (165 cm)
(m. 1957; died 1974)

Mara Corday (born Marilyn Joan Watts; January 3, 1930) is an American retired showgirl, model, actress, Playboy Playmate, and 1950s cult figure.

Early life[edit]

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.[2] 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 as a dancer in the Earl Carroll Revue in Hollywood.[3] Accompanied by her mother, Corday auditioned when she was 15 years old. During the 2½ years that she was in the show, she advanced "from showgirl to actress in the sketches".[4] 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 Corday was working as an usher at the Mayan Theater; the name Corday was lifted from a bottle of perfume.[5]


Corday in The Giant Claw (1957)

Corday signed with Universal-International Pictures (UI) as a contract player, where she was given small roles in various B-movies and television series. In 1954, while on the set of Playgirl, she met actor and future husband Richard Long.[6]

Her acting roles were small until 1955, when she was cast opposite John Agar and Leo G. Carroll in the successful science-fiction film Tarantula,[7][8] which has Clint Eastwood in a very brief role as a jet fighter pilot. She had two other co-starring roles in the genre, The Black Scorpion and The Giant Claw (both 1957), as well as in a number of Western films, including Man Without a Star and Raw Edge. Film critic Leonard Maltin said Corday had "more acting ability than she was permitted to exhibit".

From left to right, Corday, Kathleen Hughes, Myrna Hansen, and Allison Hayes in So This Is Paris (1955)

A few years after her husband's death in 1974, Corday's old friend Eastwood offered her a chance to return to films with a role in his 1977 film The Gauntlet. She also had a brief but significant role in Sudden Impact (1983), where she played the waitress who dumped sugar into the coffee of Det. Harry Callahan in that film's iconic "Go ahead, make my day" sequence.[9] She acted with Eastwood again in his 1989 film Pink Cadillac, as well as in her last film, 1990's The Rookie.


Corday appeared as a pinup girl in numerous men's magazines during the 1950s and was the Playmate of the October 1958 issue of Playboy, along with model Pat Sheehan.[10][11][12]


In 1956, Corday had a recurring role in the ABC television series Combat Sergeant.[13] From 1959 to early 1961, Corday worked exclusively doing guest spots on various television series, such as Peter Gunn in the episode, “Keep Smiling”. She also guest starred with Steve McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive in April 1960.

Personal life[edit]

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 had three children with Long during their 17-year marriage: Valerie, Carey, and Gregory.[3] Corday has also been a lifelong friend of actor Clint Eastwood, whom she met while working for Universal Pictures.[9]

Partial filmography[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.westernclippings.com/interview/maracorday_interview.shtml
  2. ^ Weaver, Tom (April 2017). "The Sci-Fi Stalwarts: Mara Corday". Classic Images (502): 73.
  3. ^ a b Henniger, Paul (February 1, 1976). "Undaunted, Mara Corday returns to TV". The Journal News. Ohio, Hamilton. The Journal News. p. 25. Retrieved March 2, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  4. ^ Thomas, Bob (October 6, 1954). "Dreams Help Mara Corday Make Decisions on Career". Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Texas, Corpus Christi. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. p. 25. Retrieved March 2, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  5. ^ Weaver, Tom (2004). It Came from Horrorwood: Interviews with Moviemakers in the Sf and Horror Tradition. McFarland & Company. p. 67. ISBN 9780786420698.
  6. ^ Magers, Boyd; Fitzgerald, Michael G. (July 31, 2004). Westerns Women: Interviews With 50 Leading Ladies Of Movie And Television Westerns From The 1930s To The 1960s. McFarland & Company. pp. 62–. ISBN 9780786420285. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  7. ^ Weaver, Tom; Brunas, John; Brunas, Michael (September 30, 2006). Interviews With B Science Fiction And Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup. McFarland. pp. 2–. ISBN 9780786428588. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  8. ^ Williams, Tony (November 1985). "Female Oppression in "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" (L'oppression des femmes dans "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman")". Science Fiction Studies. 12 (3): 264–273. JSTOR 4239701.
  9. ^ a b O'Brien, Daniel (August 8, 1996). Clint Eastwood: film-maker. B.T. Batsford. p. 153. ISBN 9780713478396. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  10. ^ Connors, Martin; Craddock, James, eds. (1996). VideoHound's golden movie retriever. Visible Ink Press. p. cxcviii. ISBN 978-0787607807.
  11. ^ Lisanti, Tom (2001). Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach, and Elvis Movies. McFarland & Company. p. 12. ISBN 978-0786408689.
  12. ^ Petersen, James R. (2005). Playboy Redheads. Chronicle Books. p. 16. ISBN 978-0811848589.
  13. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2009). Encyclopedia of television shows, 1925 through 2007. McFarland. p. 300. ISBN 9780786433056. Retrieved May 12, 2012.

External links[edit]