Part 1 - The Sheena Audition:
Page 2 - The Recommendation

Irish was 25-years-old when she tried out for the role of Sheena.  She had been married for about two-and-a-half years and had already given birth to her first son, Kim, who was born in early 1953.  Irish had been modelling for several years, she had appeared in a short film called River Goddesses filmed in early 1951 (see Films page), and had also worked as a showgirl in Las Vegas in late-1952 (see Modelling page).  She was starting to develop a bit of a sense of worldliness and was already weary of hearing men say that they were movie producers and could do big things for her.  When her old friend, photographer Tom Kelly, rang to tell her that she was going to get a call from a real producer he exhorted her to take this one very seriously.  "Don't hang up on him, Irish, like you usually do." Kelly cautioned.

Kelly was the photographer responsible for the famous Marilyn Monroe "Golden Dreams" nude calendar (photo right) as well as many of the beautiful, exotic album covers of Yma Sumac for Capitol records (Femme Fatales). (see Nudity section on the Modelling page for more on Irish and Kelly)

The Nassour Brothers were auditioning actresses in LA for the part of Sheena and one of them had called Kelly to ask him if he knew of any suitable actresses.  Kelly had unhesitatingly told him that Irish would be perfect for the role because she looked exactly like the comic character.  When the caller asked if Irish was athletic, Kelly supposedly answered, "You must be kidding!  I've got pictures of her climbing half the rocks in Malibu!" (Tease).

Irish, who had only done a couple of walk-on roles on tonight shows, objected that she couldn't act, but Kelly replied said, "That doesn't matter!  Tell him you'll do your own stunts.  He'll take you." (Scarlet Street).  Kelly also advised Irish to have some promotional photos done so she approached Bruno Bernard, the famous Hollywood photographer who had photographed her before ("I hired him to do some pictures of me in a leopard skin bikini like Sheena used to wear in the comic strip.") (photo left) (Femme Fatales).
Edward Nassour did call Irish, just as Kelly said he would.  He asked if she was interested in testing for the part and she agreed to do the screen test.  Irish has said that she decided to try out for the part because her marriage to insurance salesman Pat McIntyre was starting to deteriorate and she felt that she needed extra money to try to establish some independence (see First Husband section of Modelling page).  She also felt confident tackling the role because she was already familiar with the character.  She had read Sheena comics as a child and had spent a lot of time swinging on ropes.  Her brothers had pretended to be Tarzan and she had played Sheena (Ultra Filmfax).

Please don't forget to visit my pages devoted to the twenty six episodes of Sheena Queen of the Jungle, if you haven't done so already. You will find plot summaries, numerous comments about the individual episodes and video captures from all of the surviving episodes.  The whole Sheena story - comics, short stories, television and film - is available on the Sheena Intro page.

Femme Fatales magazine, Jan 99
Tease magazine No. 3, 1995
Scarlet Street magazine No. 23, 1996
Ultra Filmfax magazine, Apr/May 98
• The colour Bruno Bernard photo of Irish is from the front cover of Scene magazine, Jul 58
• The photo of Tom Kelly was pilfered from an eBay auction item


SHEENA © is the property of Sony Pictures Corporation
This independent, fan-based analysis of the Sheena material is copyright © 2006-2008 Paul Wickham
This page updated May 2008