It saddens us to report, so soon after the passing of Mary Dawne Arden, the death of another prominent player in the films of Mario Bava. The Facebook fan page Peplum Eternity is reporting
that Italian actor Giorgio Ardisson - the handsome young actor
best remembered for his roles in Bava's HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (Ercole al centro della terra, 1961) and ERIK THE CONQUEROR (Gli invasori, 1961) - died on December 11, at the age of 82. Before either of these films, he had been featured in two other films in which Mario Bava played a behind-the-scenes part: Andre de Toth's MORGAN THE PIRATE (Morgan il pirato, 1960) and Giacomo Gentilomo's LAST OF THE VIKINGS (L'ultimo dei vichinghi, 1961). Among his many other screen credits were roles in KATARSIS with Christopher Lee, Antonio Margheriti's THE LONG HAIR OF DEATH with Barbara Steele (recently released on Blu-ray by Raro Video), Albert Band's HERCULES AND THE PRINCESS OF TROY and Federico Fellini's JULIET OF THE SPIRITS. He also played Sartana in Pasquale Squitieri's DJANGO DEFIES SARTANA, opposite THE WHIP AND THE BODY'S Tony Kendall.
Owing to some unfortunate misinformation passed on to us, MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS
OF THE DARK mistakenly reported an earlier death date for Ardissson,
which we have always regretted.
Best remembered as Peggy, one of the loveliest of the "sei donne" in Mario Bava's BLOOD AND BLACK LACE [Sei donne per l'assassino,
1964], actress, model and entrepreneur Mary Dawne Arden passed away Saturday, December 13, in a Brooklyn, New York hospital at the age of 79. She was one
of the many people I interviewed for MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE
DARK, and one of those with whom I became and remained friends.
Dawne (she insisted on never being addressed as simply Mary) was the
daughter of a single mother, born in St. Louis during the the years of
the Great Depression, and had to face adult responsibility early on in
life. This forged her character as a hard worker, entrepreneur and self
promoter. Though I liked - and, more to the point, respected - her
immensely, she was one of those people who didn't seem able to ever
or have a good laugh, though she was always friendly and good natured.
She told me that she had never acted for money ( a
good thing too, she philosophized, because she sometimes got stiffed on
those Italian films come pay day), but to promote
herself - quite an unusual and avant garde attitude for an actress, but
Mary Dawne was, above all, a businesswoman.
likewise saw her successful career as a fashion model as a means of
"branding herself," to use today's parlance - and she did seem proud of
her accomplishments in that realm, which were indeed stunning, as she
was of the fact that Federico Fellini had cast her in a role as a
television hostess meant to be recurring in his JULIET OF THE SPIRITS,
but which was cut from the final assembly. She asked me to keep on the
lookout for other films in which
she appeared and, over the years, I was able to get copies of the
B&W giallo A... come Assassino (1966) and the fumetti adaptation
KRIMINAL (1966) into her hands. When I asked what she thought of the
films, she would dodge that uncomfortable issue by saying "Kind of a
cute kid, wasn't I?" Indeed she was, a classic
Grace Kelly type, and her modelling portfolio was truly stunning. But
looking at those photos, at those VOGUE covers, I can always see the
practical side of Mary Dawne, the good soldier and the good egg. I
imagine that, as a young woman in the full bloom of her beauty, she must
have been very like Peggy, who, finding herself the object of a
co-worker's infatuation with her, sits him down, assures him of her
friendship, and patiently copes with the problem till she can make the
nutter see plain sense.
was during the period when we were most closely in touch that VCI
announced their plan to release BLOOD AND BLACK LACE on DVD. I was hired
to record an audio commentary and arranged for Mary Dawne to film a
video introduction for the movie, which she was very happy to do. When I
later told her that I had
enjoyed the zany energy of her introduction, it
seemed to confuse her, to make her worry and feel self-conscious, which
was not at all my
intention. She exuded such confidence that I was surprised to find a
sensitivity there, not often tapped but still very present; it was one
of the things about her that I found touching, which got to me. In
short, I liked her tremendously - she was strong
and loyal and, above all, dependable - which I remember telling her were
characteristics I prized especially, since I see and value them in my
the Bava book finally came out, Mary Dawne was quite effusive about
it and the lovely pictures I found of her, some of which she had never
seen. As a thank-you, Donna and I presented her with a
print of the color shot that opens the BLOOD AND BLACK LACE chapter,
told me she planned to frame and hang near the entryway of her
apartment. As this news reached me via a Facebook friend sharing her NEW
YORK TIMES obituary this morning, Mary Dawne and I fallen out of touch
for some time. I'm both sorry to know that she's gone and
grateful to know that this dear and driven woman is finally at rest.
"It is the greatest book on film ever published. I am constantly rereading it!" says Batman/Sandman artist Kelley Jones. And, as of today, there are only 50 copies remaining. Available, while supplies last, from www.bavabook.com. Signed and inscribed copies available upon request.