Part 3 - Personal Appearances:
Page 3 - Other Television Appearances


Irish made many other promotional appearances as Sheena on television shows over the next few years.  One of the most notable was on The Steve Allen Show.  Steve Allen was the first compere of The Tonight Show, an endurable variety program that has run continuously on the NBC Network for over 50 years.  Steve Allen, who has been called the "Father of TV Talk Shows", hosted the very first episode screened on 27 September 1954.  He stayed with the program for two-and-a-half years until NBC were inspired by Allen's tremendous popularity to give him his own variety show.  The Steve Allen Show, which Irish appeared on wearing her Sheena costume (photo right), first went to air on 24 June 1956 and continued until June 1960.   The Tonight Show, experimented with several new formats but returned to variety television under comperes such as Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, who held the reins for 30 years.  The current host is Jay Leno who took over when Johnny Carson retired in 1992.

Irish appeared on the 55th episode of The Steve Allen Show (season 2), which screened on 25 August 1957.  In a 1995 interview with Tease magazine Irish disclosed that during that appearance she learnt a very valuable lesson from a major female headlining star.  Irish said that at the first rehearsal she was very anxious to meet her childhood heroine but the actress arrived late and Irish later learned that arriving late was a frequent occurence for this particular actress.  When she finally did arrive she treated Irish very badly ("Since everyone else on the show was so pleasant and a lot of fun it made her behaviour even more obvious.  When one of the crew told me that she had even made Perry Como upset, it didn't help.")  Irish vowed then and there that even if she became a star in movies as well as TV that she would never be rude to a fan or a fellow worker.  Considering the glowing comments from Irish's colleagues over the years it appears that she managed to keep that vow.

The other guests that appeared with Irish on that episode of The Steve Allen Show were Joe E Brown, an ageing Hollywood comedian; The Coasters, a black vocal group; Pat Kirby, a now-forgotten white female singer, and Hollywood legend... Hedy Lamarr!
The interview with Irish in Ultra Filmfax magazine mentions that she also made a guest appearance on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, which ran on the NBC network from 1956 to 1961.  Ford, whose real name was Ernest Jennings Ford, was a charismatic and talented country and gospel singer who had risen through the ranks of radio and local TV in his home town of Bristol, Tennessee, to become a nationwide success on his own daily network TV variety show.  He was eventually given his own prime time program, The Ford Show, which was nominated for an Emmy Award.  I have been unable to find the date on which Irish appeared on the program but Frank Bonilla has advised that Irish appeared on the program in her Sheena costume and Andy Williams was one of the other guests.  If anyone can provide any further information about Irish McCalla's appearance on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show please email me.
Irish also appeared on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life, a quiz show that ran from 1950 until 1961 (Ultra Filmfax & Black & Feret).  The quiz/chat show format was merely a vehicle for Groucho's improvised humour and was immensely popular at the time.  Irish appeared on the program on 22 June 1964 and when Groucho introduces Irish he tells the audience that she portrayed "Sheena of the Jungle", and comments, "but she hasn't been there recently", indicating the show was no longer on the air in Los Angeles.  Irish's co-contestant is a fairly dull union official from Texas and Groucho devotes a lot of his attention to Irish.  Groucho asks her where she is from and when she replies Pawnee City, Nebraska, he asks her what impressed a small town girl the most about arriving in LA.  Irish replies that Hollywood was fairly exciting but she became a little depressed when she first saw the Pacific Ocean because she had always thought it would look a lot bigger.  I suspect Irish was asked to prepare her reply to Groucho's question, but she obviously isn't ready when Groucho tells her that the Pacific can appear small but you need to remember that you are only seeing the top of it, for she laughs genuinely and heartily.  When Groucho enquires about her marital status she replies she is unmarried.  Irish divorced her first husband, Patrick McIntyre, in July 1957 (see Page 7: First Husband in the Modelling section and Page 3: Those Three Husbands of the Final Years section).

The segment is fairly lengthy and is amusing because of Irish's prolonged whispering in her partner's ear while she rests her hand on the side of his neck, prompting Groucho to ask them whether they are answering the question or making love.  Irish and her partner are brought back again at the end of the show for a chance to win more money, giving her a total of almost eight minutes of screen time in a half-hour program.  Like a lot of Groucho's guests, she is a little reserved, but it is delightful to see her laughing so naturally and joyously at Groucho's gags.  Unfortunately, this episode appears not to be included in any of the collections of You Bet Your Life available commercially.

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.  There are also large-sized copies of a many of the photos used on these pages available to download on the Sheena Gallery page.

Tease magazine No. 3, 1995
Ultra Filmfax magazine, Apr/May 98
TV's Original Sheena - Irish McCalla by Bill Black and Bill Feret, Paragon Publications 1992
• The photo of Irish and Steve Allen was pilfered from an eBay auction item
• The Tennessee Ernie Ford album cover is from 100 Best-Selling Albums of the 50s by Charlotte Grieg, Amber Books 2004
• The Groucho Marx TV Guide cover was pilfered from an eBay auction item
• The vidcap of Irish on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life is from a DVD-R in my personal collection
• Read a biography of Tennessee Ernie Ford at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
• Read a Groucho Marx filmography at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
• Read a biography of Groucho Marx at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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
This page was updated August 2007