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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 11, 2002

TV actress Irish McCalla dead at 73

Associated Press

PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Irish McCalla, an actress best known for her title role in the 1950s television series "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle," has died. She was 73.

McCalla died Feb. 1 of complications from a brain tumor and stroke, her eldest son, Kim McIntyre, said Saturday. She had been moved to a Tucson care home about 18 months earlier after being diagnosed with her fourth brain tumor, McIntyre said.

McCalla liked to say she was discovered by Nassour Studios while she was throwing a bamboo spear on a Malibu beach.

"I couldn't act, but I could swing through the trees," McCalla once told The Prescott Courier.

Sheena, a female version of Tarzan, had originated as a comic book heroine in 1938.

Most of the 26-episode syndicated series was filmed in Mexican jungles, and McIntyre remembers watching his mother swinging from vine to vine and wrestling mechanical alligators.

She did her own stunts until the day she grabbed an unsecured vine and slammed into a tree, breaking her arm, he said.

After Sheena, McCalla had parts on TV's "Have Gun with Travel" and "Route 66," and appeared in five movies — "Five Bold Women," "Five Gates to Hell," "Hands of Strangers," "The Beat Generation" and "She Demons," a horror film that became a cult classic.

McCalla is survived by another son, two brothers, three sisters and two granddaughters.