Page 6 - Nudity

One of the questions frequently asked by male fans of Irish is whether there are any nude photos of her.  Despite her abundant sex appeal and the raunchy nature of some of her poses (left) Irish was a good Catholic girl from the Midwest.  She espoused old-fashioned values and was not a wild party girl, but a levelheaded tea-totaller.  She lived as if she was determined to follow her older brother's advice not to do anything to embarrass the family (see Page 2: Discovery).

Irish received many offers to pose nude over the years.  She declined offers from Hustler and Playboy, although Playboy said that they didn't want her nude (Black and Feret).  The magazine told Irish they wanted to photograph the undersides of her breasts, but she felt that would still be too sexy ("I wanted to protect Sheena, but I was also protecting myself.  My body is for those I choose to show it to.  It would have embarrassed my family - especially my sons - if their friends saw pictures of me naked.") (Femme Fatales)

Before Irish began working for the Globe Syndicate she met Alberto Vargas, the celebrated pin-up artist, at a Miss California beauty contest where Vargas was one of the judges.  She didn't win the contest but Vargas asked her to pose for him.  She was short of cash at the time and had always admired his work, so agreed to do it.  Irish has openly acknowledged Vargas as an important influence on her own style of art (see Art page) and has frequently told stories of copying his art when she was a teenager (see the Artistic Development section on the Childhood page).  When Vargas asked Irish to pose nude for him she agreed, even though she had never done that for anybody else.  Irish has described Vargas as "a very special gentleman of the old-world school".  ("He treated you like you were a beautiful rose, not like you were a nude body.")  She was very flattered to be chosen to grace one of his calendars and because Irish was born on Christmas day Vargas chose to use her as the December girl.  His image of her was featured in both True and Cavalier magazines and was also used on the 4 of diamonds in one of Varga's many editions of playing cards ("One such pose that was used repeatedly showed me on my knees, looking back over my shoulder with my body slightly turned away, holding a telephone." - see below) (Glamour Girls & Femme Fatales).
For many years it was not widely known that Vargas and his wife, Anna, who was also present during the session, took about eight 4 x 6 inch black-and-white photos of Irish naked, so that Vargas could use them to paint from.  They promised her that they would be the only ones to see them.  Those photos of an 18-year-old Irish naked ended up in the possession of Erwin Flacks, a Las Vegas collector who had the good fortune to purchase Vargas' personal photos of his models, which included the nude photos of Irish.  Also included were the negatives.  Flacks showed them to Irish and one of her closest personal friends when they were running a booth at the first Glamorcon Show in Los Angeles in September 1993.  Irish, who had never seen the developed photos before, became a little annoyed and commented, "I knew these would show up one day."  She eventually lightened up a bit and during one of their conversations confided in him, "You are looking at an eighteen year old virgin."  She made him promise not to sell the photos while she was still alive.  Irish had been battling recurrent brain tumours for many years at this stage. For that promise Irish agreed to sign several sets of photos that Flacks had prepared.  Irish's friend said that the photos were stunningly beautiful.  Frank Bonilla, my collaborator on this site and the world's most avid collector of Irish McCalla memorabilia, was unsuccessful in obtaining a set of the photos from Erwin Flacks, so in June 2007 he wrote to Hugh Hefner, a keen fan of Irish, and suggested that Playboy do a biographical story about Irish.  He also alerted Hefner to the existence of the nude photos.  Playboy managed to acquire those rare photos and used them for a feature story on Irish in the February 2008 issue of Playboy.  The photos are indeed very beautiful but you won't find them on this family-friendly site.  If you would like to see them search The Net for sites that specialise in images of nude celebrities.  A Vargas sketch of Irish's nude torso also appears in the book, Alberto Vargas: Works from the Max Vargas Collection.(2006 Bullfinch).  Max Vargas was Alberto Vargas' nephew. (Bonilla).

Some time in the early-1950s, a bronze bust was made of Irish topless during what archivists consider Irish's most celebrated project.  The Globe Syndicate organised a spread called, "Irish By Four Different Artists".  Celebrated glamour/pinup photographer Bruno Bernard shot photos in his distinctive style (top left below), Alberto Vargas painted her on canvas (top right below), an ice sculptor named Tom Sherbloom constructed an ice effigy of her (bottom left below) and Yucca Salamunich sculpted a bronze bust (bottom right below).  Munich gave the bust to Irish and she said that her youngest son, Sean, used to pat it and say "Nice mommy.  Nice mommy."  She was embarrassed that someone might think that strange so she had Munich cut the head off it, which she kept, and she gave the breasts to pinup photographer Tom Kelly.  Kelly was responsible for the famous "Golden Dreams" calendar photos of Marilyn Monroe nude.  Kelly was also the person responsible for suggesting that she audition for the role of Sheena (see Page 2: The Recommendation in the Audition section).  Kelly was always pestering Irish to pose nude for him ("Why won't you model nude for me?  You modeled nude for for Vargas!") so she gave him the breasts from Munich's bronze bust (Femme Fatales).  Irish also said that when she was about 40 she posed topless for Fritz Willis, an artist she was studying with at the time (Prevue).

The four photos at the very bottom of the page are good examples of Irish's raunchier work from her Fifties glamour photography work.


To see what all of the fuss was about and the reason for her popularity, click on the image at right to explore an extensive collection of glamour and television magazines that Irish McCalla appeared in between 1950 and 2008.

TV's Original Sheena - Irish McCalla by Bill Black & Bill Feret, Paragon
Femme Fatales magazine, Jan 99
Glamour Girls: Then and Now magazine, Premiere issue Mar-Apr 94
• Personal correspondence between Frank Bonilla and Erwin Flacks
Prevue Pinup Special 2 magazine 1994

• The photo of Irish reclining with a bare back and the photo of Irish getting out of the shower is from Scene magazine, Jul 58
• The colour photo of Irish wearing a yellow towel is from my personal collection
• The photo of Irish with Bruno Bernard, and the photo of Irish with Yucca Salamunich are all from unidentified magazine clippings in my personal collection
• The photo of Alberto Vargas was pilfered from eBay auction item
• The photo of Irish being massaaged, the "4 of diamonds" painting of Irish by Vargas and the two photos of Irish wearing the transparent blue negligée were kindly donated by Frank Bonilla
• The photo of Irish with Alberto Vargas from the front cover of Eve magazine, Nov 50, is from my personal collection
• The photo of Irish with Tom Sherbloom from the front cover of Night and Day magazine, Aug 51, is from my personal collection
• The photo of Irish brushing her teeth with her pyjama top open from Fabulous Females magazine, No. 1, 1955, is from my personal collection
• Read a biography of Alberta Vargas at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
• See many examples of Alberto Vargas gorgeous pinup art at The eGallery's Alberto Vargas pages


SHEENA © is the property of Sony Pictures Corporation
This independent, fan-based analysis of the Sheena material is copyright © 2005-2009 Paul Wickham
This page was updated May 2009