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March 15, 2024

Irish McCalla Posing for St. Patrick’s Day Holiday in 1956

Actress Irish McCalla — who portrayed television’s Sheena, Queen of the Jungle from 1955 to 1956 — may have been born in Nebraska, but for this photo she lived up to her name to proclaim “Erin Go Bragh” (“Ireland Forever”) in commemoration of the coming St. Patrick’s Day holiday on March 15, 1956.

Nellie Elizabeth “Irish” McCalla (December 25, 1928 – February 1, 2002) was an American film and television actress and artist best known as the title star of the 1950s television series Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. She co-starred with actor Chris Drake. McCalla was also a “Vargas Girl” model for pin-up girl artist Alberto Vargas.

McCalla recalled being discovered by a Nassour Studios representative while throwing a bamboo spear on a Malibu, California, beach, adding of her Sheena experience, “I couldn’t act, but I could swing through the trees.” Her 26-episode series aired in first-run syndication from 1955 to 1956.

The athletic McCalla said she performed her own stunts on the series, filmed in Mexico, until the day she grabbed an unsecured vine and slammed into a tree, breaking her arm. Her elder son, Kim McIntyre, once told the press he remembered watching his mother swinging from vine to vine and wrestling mechanical alligators. Following the one-season Sheena, McCalla appeared in five films from 1958 to 1962, and guest roles on the TV series Have Gun — Will Travel and Route 66.


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