Mara Corday - Rotten Tomatoes

Mara Corday

Highest Rated:   94% Tarantula (1955)
Lowest Rated:   20% Pink Cadillac (1989)
Birthplace:   Santa Monica, California, USA
Mara Corday's principal career in movies only lasted seven years, from 1951 until 1958, but as a result of a handful of those films -- coupled with her status as one of the most photographed models of her era -- she has maintained a fandom for 50 years. This is especially true among science fiction buffs, among whom Corday's three movies in the genre -- Tarantula, The Giant Claw, and The Black Scorpion -- remain beloved films of their era. She was born Marilyn Watts in Santa Monica, CA, and displayed an outgoing personality at an early age. Her modeling career began while she was still in her teens, and by the end of the 1940s, when she was 17, Corday was also working as a chorus girl at the Earl Carroll Theatre. Following Carroll's death, she joined the George White Scandals of 1950, and was part of the cast of a stage production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Corday was lucky enough in 1951 to appear in a small Los Angeles production of William Saroyan's The Time of Your Life, where she was seen by Paul Kohner, one of Hollywood's top agents. Kohner offered to represent her, and there followed a string of appearances for Corday in supporting roles on shows like Kit Carson, starring Bill Williams, as well as bit parts in movies such as Two Tickets to Broadway (1951) at RKO, Sea Tiger (1952) at Monogram, and Problem Girls at Columbia. Corday was also briefly signed up with legendary producer Hal Wallis -- this coincided with her appearance in the Wallis-produced Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis 3-D comedy Money From Home (1953) at Paramount. Unfortunately, her brief contractual link-up with Wallis yielded no further work in films of that prominence, and her next two films were with Republic Pictures. Her contact with Wallis, however, yielded a screen test that got Corday a spot as a contract player at Universal in 1954. This not only secured her a steady income and a series of small (but gradually larger) roles in various Universal features, among them the musical So This Is Paris (1954), but also training in the finer points of acting. The studio also featured young players like Corday, Grant Williams, and Clint Eastwood any place they could, such as their appearances as contract players in the 1955 network television special Allen in Movieland, hooked around the studio's upcoming release of The Benny Goodman Story. Corday was still pursuing her modeling career, and by 1955 was one of the most photographed women on the West Coast, a fact that wasn't lost on the studio -- Universal's management, in turn, began putting her into better movies, including the Kirk Douglas feature Man Without a Star (1955), directed by King Vidor. Ironically, even as she was getting bigger and better roles in movies aimed at mainstream audiences -- including Harmon Jones' A Day of Fury (1956), which arguably contains Corday's best work -- it was her work in a trio of genre films that would ensure Corday a devoted fandom for decades to come. Jack Arnold's Tarantula (1955) showed off the actress in a demure, intelligent role as a scientist's assistant, quite unlike the hardboiled girls from the wrong side of the tracks that she often played; and while the 200-foot-tall spider of the title attracted a lot of attention, Corday's good looks were impossible to ignore as well. In The Giant Claw (1957), which suffered from ludicrous special effects, she was the best thing to look at in the movie, even for filmgoers under age 13; and in The Black Scorpion (1957), she even supplied her wardrobe, and looked nothing less than stunning in virtually all of her scenes, and got to act the role of a full-blooded heroine, complete with acts of bravery of her own. Corday's modeling career had continued uninterrupted, culminating in October 1958 when she was the Playmate of the Month in Playboy magazine -- she would probably have been able to build on the momentum of the Playboy issue, but for the fact that she married actor Richard Long, who insisted that she stay at home to rai


Highest Rated Movies



29% The Rookie
  • Actor
20% Pink Cadillac
  • Stick Lady
57% Sudden Impact
  • Coffee Shop Waitress
75% The Gauntlet
  • Jail Matron
60% The Black Scorpion
  • Teresa Alvarez
No Score Yet The Giant Claw
  • Sally Caldwell
No Score Yet A Day of Fury
  • Sharman Fulton
No Score Yet Raw Edge
  • Paca
No Score Yet Allen in Movieland
  • Actor
No Score Yet Foxfire
  • Maria
No Score Yet So This Is Paris
  • Yvonne
No Score Yet Man Without a Star
  • Moccasin Mary
94% Tarantula
  • Stephanie "Steve" Clayton
No Score Yet Dawn at Socorro
  • Lotty Diamond
No Score Yet Drums Across the River
  • Sue
No Score Yet Francis Joins the WACs
  • Kate
No Score Yet Money from Home
  • Waitress
No Score Yet Two Tickets to Broadway
  • Showgirl

Quotes from Mara Corday's Characters