Saturday, February 4, 2017

28 Days Of Black Women In Horror: Teresa Graves

Teresa Graves (1948-2002)

Vampira (1974)
Born in Houston, Texas, Graves began her career singing with The Doodletown Pipers. She soon turned to acting and became a regular in the two variety shows: Our Place (1967) and the infamous single episode of Turn-On (1969). She then became a regular on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In during its third season. As the star of the 1974 Get Christie Love!, Graves is credited as being the first African-American woman to star in her own hour-long drama television series. Jet magazine described Graves as "television's most delightful detective, the epitome of a tough lady cop with more feminine features than Venus". Graves was baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in 1974, and almost immediately began using her celebrity to bring international awareness to the persecution of Witnesses in Malawi under then-leader Hastings Kamuzu Banda's "one-party rule". In 1983, she retired from show business to devote her time to the religion. On October 10, 2002, Graves' home caught fire. She was found unconscious in a bedroom before being rushed to the hospital where she later died. She was 54 years old. (Source)

About Vampira (1974)

Also known as Old Dracula, also known as Old Drac, Graves is probably one of the original manic pixie dream girls as the unlikely mate to an antiqued male vampire patriarch, Count Dracula (David Niven) when a bizarre transfusion to revive his comatose wife turns her from white to Black. It's a ridiculous premise, but a meaningful campy commentary of how the 1970's really marked a cultural shift (albeit small) in media representation and sociopolitical agency of minorities. Graves as Countess Vampira was the majestic party girl you wanted to be around.

Other Genre Performances

Vampira was her only overtly genre appearance.

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