Monday, April 23, 2012
YEAR 1955: SHEENA
Though Fiction House, the comics company that published Sheena, closed in 1953, the company's most famous character survived the demise of the company that midwifed her, when SHEENA, QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE, debuted as a syndicated television show in 1955. The jungle queen was played for 26 episodes by buxom Irish McCalla.
Like the similar RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE (1952-54), SHEENA was an attempt to translate the thrills of jungle-themed B-movies to the small screen. Unfortunately, such shows were shot quickly and on a miniscule budget, which tended to cut down on the thrill level. I have not yet seen all the existing SHEENA episodes, but most of them are pretty talky and give McCalla's Sheena few chances to show off her feminine formidability.
Nevertheless, McCalla's image was arguably the most striking image of female heroism produced for 1950s television. And even today, that image achieved some dubious comics-related immortality, when a clip from the TV show appeared in the documentary CRUMB, illustrating one of young R. Crumb's earliest fantasy-crushes.