many years after I had grown up I wondered about the woman who had
played Sheena Queen of the Jungle on television when I was
a kid. I'm guessing I was about ten-years-old when the series
was screened on Australian TV in the mid-60s but the image of that
tall, buxom blonde in the micro mini leopard-skin tunic left a lasting
impression on my prepubescent mind. In retrospect, I suspect
that she was the genesis of my appreciation of "womanhood",
that magnetic, mysterious fascination that turns grown men into blithering
idiots. I would picture Sheena in my mind's eye - running through
the jungle on those long shapely legs, blowing on her horn and throwing
her spear - and my curiosity about who this radiant beauty was continued
With the advent of the The Internet I was put out of my misery. I
learnt that Sheena was played by an ex-model named Irish McCalla who
had gone on to star in a few forgettable B-grade films and had become
a professional artist in her later life. The more I researched
the more I became intrigued by this stunningly beautiful woman and
my fascination eventually grew into an obsession. The interviews
with her that I read revealed that she was an intelligent, witty,
kindhearted person who retained her Midwestern earthiness despite
her exposure to the glamourous worlds of modelling, film and television.
I attempted to contact her by writing to the Prescott, Arizona
address I found for McCalla Enterprises but my letter came back undelivered.
I was unaware that she was dying and had been moved to a nursing
home. When Irish died in February 2002 I vowed that I would
create a tribute to her.
On rewatching, the Sheena episodes aren't nearly as thrilling or as
adventuresome as we remembered them, but the screen glows whenever
the camera falls on Irish. In a 1994 interview with Prevue
magazine she commented, "Somehow they remember me being much
better than I really was, and no one could ask for more than that."
Pin-up aficionado Steve Sullivan, who interviewed Irish for
his Glamour Girls: Then and Now publication, disagrees with
Irish's modest assessment of her talents, and points at that "No
one can dispute that the special qualities she has always possessed
go well beyond the physical." I hope this site is helpful
to fans of Irish McCalla, but more importantly, I hope that it shows
the world what a truly special person she was.