If a woman with a full and sensuous figure can be described as curvaceous, well I’ve just find such a woman for you, as Allison Hayes remains the perfect feminine beauty archetype of the fifties. Anyone with an interest in B-movies of the era can only marvel at the many contributions this amazing actress left to the genre. As you may already know, she’s the legendary title character of Attack of the 50-ft Woman. Sadly, an aura of tragedy often hung around Allison, in her professional career as in her personal life (especially the last years). But when a script contained a role for an aggressive and dominant female character that your average contract actress couldn’t portray with conviction, who was most often called? Allison Hayes.
She was born Mary Jane Hayes in Washington, D.C., on February 22, 1930. Stunningly beautiful, she became Miss Washington in 1949 and took part in the Miss America Pageant the same year. Soon after, she adopted the name Allison in starting her cinematic career at Universal. As it was common at the time, the studio gave her training and pointed the way to their lackluster B productions. One of her first film, Francis Joins the Wacs was from a series starring a talking donkey in the title role. At least, she joined some other second-feature starlets in the cast, like Mamie Van Doren, Mara Corday and Julie Adams. In all these productions, we could note Allison’s particular sensuality, as each viewer anticipated her to explode of suppressed passion in any moment (all this with the help of some marvelously tight sweaters!).
A Roger Corman western, Gunslinger, proposed Miss Hayes in a remarkable villainous role (in a very dominant manner for this genre), which would open the door to many horror films, still enjoyable to see today. Her presence is merely decorative for Zombies of Mora Tau, but in The Unearthly, she shared the screen with John Carradine and the amazing Tor Johnson, but her character was not as strong as the one in Gunslinger. But then she played a witch in The Undead, sporting a costume that we couldn’t divert our eyes from. And could we ever forget The Disembodied and Allison’s voodoo dance, wearing a leopard short skirt? Ah, the fifties, when everything was suggested…
Allison Hayes became an immortal performer in 1958 for Attack of the 50-ft Woman, an absurdly diverting film of the highest rank. Could she ever suspect that it was the defining role of her career? Allison went at it full blast, as a rich and frustrated housewife who got zapped by a giant transparent alien on a deserted road. She becomes taller herself and takes advantage of her new physical state to get revenge on her cheating husband, who was sharing saliva with some blonde gold digger! The scene where our giantess, only clothed with strategically place bed sheets, searches for her hubby by demolishing an hotel where he’s getting sloshed with his kittenish mistress, is a key moment in low-budget filmmaking. Allison remains sexy throughout, baring perfect shoulders and sometimes sporting one large belt around her tiny wasp waist.
Then came The Hypnotic Eye, a film publicized with the odd gimmick of really hypnotizing its audience. Around all this, Allison could be seen in many popular television series, notably in Perry Mason, starring stolid Raymond Burr. Her last horror project remains The Crawling Hand. She was seen for the final time in Tickle Me in 1965, starring the King himself, Elvis Presley. What happened next?
The last decade of life found Allison fighting sickness. Seems that some food supplement that she ingested for many years resulted in fatal leukemia. She made personal efforts to inform the public, in such a way that the American government changed its laws on the subject. Her physical appearance changed drastically and she passed away at only 47 years of age. A tragedy.
A wasted talent? Looks like it’s always the same old song and dance for many of our Cult Sirens included on this site. With her considerable sex-appeal and talent to play any femme fatale, Allison Hayes should have been part of more illustrious productions. We can only console ourselves in knowing that her mere presence was the only bright spot in some lousy projects, her being the sole point of interest. Her star will shine indefinitely in the Cult Sirens Pantheon.
1954 Francis Joins the WACs; So This Is Paris 1955 Sign of the Pagan; Chicago Syndicate; The Purple Mask; Count Three and Pray; Double Jeopardy 1956 The Steel Jungle; Mohawk; Gunslinger 1957 The Unearthly; The Disembodied; The Undead; Zombies of Mora Tau 1958 Attack of the 50-Ft Woman; Wolf Dog; Hong Kong Confidential 1959 Pier 5, Havana; A Lust to Kill; Counterplot 1960 The Hypnotic Eye; The High Powered Rifle 1963 Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed?; The Crawling Hand 1965 Tickle Me