Part 3 - Personal Appearances:
Page 5 - Non-Sheena Television Appearances


Irish has said that her personal appearances were her main source of income for many years after the Sheena series was cancelled.  One sideline was making guest appearances on established TV programs.  This brief section on Irish McCalla's little-known guest appearances on several programs in the late-1950s and early-1960s is not directly related to her appearances to promote the success of the Sheena television series.  It is included here for the simple reason that it is too small to justify a section by itself and it does not fit neatly anywhere else.

When Irish returned from Mexico she finally had an opportunity to watch some of the Sheena episodes in entirety.  She and Christian Drake had regularly visited Ishmael Rodgriguez's Churubusco Studio to watch the rushes of the show, but now she had an opportunity to study how her performance fitted the dramatic structure of the scripts (Femme Fatales).  She concluded that she needed to get some acting lessons and promptly enrolled in classes with Jeff Corey, an experienced character actor who was developing a reputation as a gifted drama coach (Prevue).  This was about the time that Irish was dabbling in a spasmodic career as a film actress (see Irish McCalla's Film Career page).  Her principal interest was still painting (see Art page) but now that she had made contacts in the entertainment industry, had learnt her way around the studio system and acquired some dramatic skills she was glad to accept any offers of work in television dramas that came her way.

Black and Feret have recorded that Irish's brief television career as an actor consisted of appearances on Union Pacific, Have Gun Will Travel and 77 Sunset Strip.

Irish's first television guest appearance was on Union Pacific, a short-lived series in 1958 and 1959 about the attempts of the Union Pacific Railroad to expand into new territory.  Jeff Morrow, who would costar with Irish in Five Bold Women (1959) several years later, portrayed district right-of-way supervisor Bart McClelland (photo below right) and Judson Pratt played his assistant, Billy Kinkaid, a surveyor.  Susan Cummings (photo right) provided the glamour in the series by playing Georgia, who ran the Golden Nugget Saloon which was located in a railway car that travelled with the train laying new tracks (IMDb).  I have been unable to find any details about Irish's appearance in this series.  It was about this same time that she also appeared in the classic schlock-horror saga, She Demons (1958).

Several years passed before Irish ventured onto the small screen again.  In the intervening years she had appeared in four feature films - The Beat Generation (1959), Five Gates To Hell (1959), Five Bold Women (1960) and Hands Of A Stranger (1962).  Her next television appearance would reunite her with Richard Boone (left), who she had met back in early 1956 before the Sheena series had been purchased by ABC Syndication.  She and Boone had auditioned together for the roles of Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke (1955-1975) but had lost out to James Arness and Amanda Blake.  Boone went on to star in Have Gun Will Travel from September 1957 to August 1963, a series about a mysterious cultured gunfighter named Paladin who hired out his expensive services to well-heeled clients (Marshall).  The episode Irish appeared in was called Bob Wire (Season 6, Episode 18), and it screened on 12 January 1963.  In this episode Paladin is hired as a bodyguard for an eccentric and crafty fence salesman who is transporting a shipment of barbed-wire into a volatile region.  The delivery has the potential to start a range war between farmers and cattlemen.  Irish has a significant role as Anna, a lonely cattleman's daughter who too easily falls for the smooth words of the sly salesman (see top photo above).  Despite her ample time on screen she only has three or four speaking lines in the half-hour episode.  Irish told Black and Feret that she was still receiving residual cheques for that performance in the early Nineties when they were writing her biography. It's possible that she may have continued to receive them until she died in February 2002.

77 Sunset Strip premiered on 17 October 1958 and ran successfully through to 7 February 1964.  It's genesis was a Warner Bros feature film, Girl On The Run (1958), starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Erin Brown, and Edd Byrnes as a cold-hearted killer who constantly combs his hair while waiting for his victims.  In the television series, Stuart Bailey, the cool and collected private detective of the film - Zimbalist (photo left) - was given an equally cool and handsome partner named Jeff Spencer, played by Roger Smith (photo right).  They became the hip, martini-clutching detectives whose office was at 77 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.  Byrnes (photo centre) reappeared in the series as a super-cool, finger-snapping, haircombing parking attendant who spoke in proto-beatnik jargon and who occasionally assisted the detectives with their cases.  Irish McCalla made a guest appearance in an episode entitled The Fumble (Season 6, Episode 12) that was first broadcast on 13 December 1963 (IMDb).  These later episodes are a pale reflection of what the show had been in it's heyday, as both Smith and Byrnes had already retired from the series, leaving Zimbalist to carry the whole program by himself.  Irish had a small role as a leotard-clad karate instructor named Lynette and only appeared in one scene.  The sequence in the episode Irish appears in is played for laughs and opens with her tossing around a stocky middle-aged man who is noticeably shorter than her.  They take a breather and Bailey questions her about her relationship with a shady character he is investigating (see bottom photo above).  She gives an account of a calamitous date she had with the drunken guy and while she is talking she performs calisthenic limbering exercises involving high leg lifts with her back against a set of wooden gym wall bars.  She concludes the story by bemoaning the fact that she always ends up with the guys who want to cry on her shoulder.  "I must be the motherly type." she conjectures, leaving Bailey dumbfounded that this tall, gorgeous, shapely (and dangerous) blonde should entertain such thoughts.  Irish is impressive in this for two reasons.  Firstly, her acting has become quite accomplished and her comic timing is also impressive.  Secondly, Irish does actually perform the impressive judo throw on her haggard pupil.

This was Irish's last ever screen appearance as an actor.  She retired from the entertainment industry to concentrate on her art and within a short time she was making a living as a professional artist (see Art page).

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.

• Femme Fatales magazine, Jan 99
Prevue Pinup Special 2 magazine, Aug/Oct 94

• The vidcap of Irish with Woodrow Parfrey from the Bob Wire episode of Have Gun Willl Travel, and the vidcap of Irish with Efrem Zimbalist Jr from The Fumble episode of 77 Sunset Strip, are from DVD-R discs in my personal collection
• The photo of Jeff Morrow & Susan Cummings from Union Pacific and the photo of Richard Boone as Paladin from Have Gun Will Travel were both pilfered from eBay auction items

• The 77 Sunset Strip photo featuring (L to R) Efrem Zimbalist Jr as Stuart Bailey, Edd Byrnes as Gerald Lloyd "Kookie" Kookson III & Roger Smith as Jeff Spencer is from The History of Television by Rick Marshall, Bison Books 1986

• Read a brief description of Have Gun Will Travel episodes at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
• Read a list and some brief descriptions of 77 Sunset Strip episodes at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)


SHEENA © is the property of Sony Pictures Corporation
This independent, fan-based analysis of the Sheena material is copyright © 2005-2007 Paul Wickham
This page was updated August 2007