In his introduction to an interview with Irish McCalla for Femme Fatales magazine Dan Scapperotti wrote the following: "America, 1955: the age of chastity.  Howdy Doody reminded us to attend church, the hottest pair in Hollywood was Martin and Lewis, Father Knows Best was one of the country's most popular sitcoms and The Mickey Mouse Club was making it's debut.  Then she came along.  Cast as Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Irish McCalla, a voluptuous blonde clad in a makeshift, leopard skin swimsuit, fried adolescent hormones.  In a jab at 'togetherness'dads sat with their teenage offspring during each episode, but communication was limited to the male coterie silently ogling McCalla's physique until the final credit crawl, when Pop would ritualistically say, 'Don't forget to wash up for dinner.'  McCalla corrupted the whole Mickey Mouse morality.  She was the catalyst for impure thoughts." (Femme Fatales)

On my introductory page to Irish McCalla I mentioned that the image of Irish as Sheena had haunted me for many years while growing up and on into adulthood, and how I had come to realise that she had been responsible for the seminal awakenings of my sexuality and an appreciation of the female gender.  In his essay Sheena, Queen of the Jungle: White Goddess of the Dumont Era, David B Broad, a lecturer in sociology at Tennesee State University, claims that his research shows that Sheena is the one of the most remembered television shows amongst males aged 45 to 55 today (written in 1997). Powerful females were a rare item in the homely suburban world of 1950s television, where Donna Reed and June Cleaver portrayed wholesome motherhood with tireless devotion.  The only competition for Sheena was Annie Oakley, played by Gail Davis, who we all knew was just everybody's feisty sister - reliable but sexless.  That buxom, scantily-clad Amazonian Sheena was a whole other kettle of fish.  "The catalyst for impure thoughts" indeed.

Obviously, the amount of material written about Irish McCalla as Sheena far outweighs the other aspects of her life.  Irish's stellar career as a glamour model (see the Modelling page) would almost certainly have slipped into oblivion if she hadn't played Sheena.  As mentioned on the Films intro page, all of the films that Irish appeared in are eminently forgettable except for the fact that she is in them, although She Demons appears to have considerable currency with fans of schlock cinema who are unfamiliar with Sheena.  Likewise, to anyone who has studied art Irish's artistic output appears overly sentimental and romanticised and I suspect that the interest in her as an artist was largely based on her fame as Sheena.

The amount of material about Irish as Sheena makes it necessary to break up the material to make it more manageable and to avoid lengthy and unwieldy web pages.  Fortunately, the topic falls neatly into three major phases - (1) the audition and the promotional aspects of peddling the series; (2) shooting the series in Mexico; and (3) and Irish's personal appearances to promote the show while it was popular.  In the Filming in Mexico section (link below), which is the core of the whole "Irish as Sheena" topic, I have taken the liberty of including a page called "Other Sheena Anecdotes".  This is a collection of unrelated items that I thought would be of interest to fans of Irish and Sheena.  Likewise, the Personal Appearances pages also encompass Irish's geust appearances on other TV shows, both variety programs and drama, as well as her very brief career in live theatre.  The story of Irish's personal appearances as a source of income during her later life, after the show had acheived a cult following, are related on the Page 2: The Personal Appearances Circuit - Again in the Final Years section.

To investigate the three phases of the Sheena story click on the images below:


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.

Femme Fatales magazine, Jan 99

• All images in the collage were created with video captures from DVD
• Gorgeous Amazon photo is from an article in Sunday Mirror magazine, Jul 55 - pilfered from eBay
• The photo of a dark-haired Irish in audition costume is from People Today magazine, Dec 57 - personal collection
• Photo of Irish and Neal the chimp is from personal collection
• Autographed photo of Irish promoting Goldsmith's Milk was pilfered from an eBay auction item


SHEENA © is the property of Sony Pictures Corporation
This independent, non-profit, fan-based analysis of the Sheena material is copyright © 2005-2007 Paul Wickham
These pages updated May 2007