Carroll Borland; Vampire Role Prototype in 1935 Film


Carroll Borland, who played opposite Bela Lugosi in the 1935 horror film “Mark of the Vampire” wearing a pasty white makeup that many believe was imitated over the years by such characters as Vampira, Elvira and Lily Munster, has died in Arlington, Va.

Charles Heard, her biographer, said Friday that Miss Borland, who left films 50 years ago to become a college professor, was 79 when she died Feb. 3 of pneumonia.

In 1988, when she returned to the public eye after Elvira (actress Cassandra Petersen) was involved in litigation with Vampira (actress Maila Nurma) over the rights to the characterization, Miss Borland recalled the details of her movie persona in a Times interview.


Makeup artist William Tuttle, she remembered, felt that her character (Luna Mora) should complement the appearance of the vampire (Lugosi).

“So I was given a pasty white face--which looked pretty strange when I walked around the lot--with dark, heightened eyes and dark red lips.” (In the 1960s, the stark look also was given to Yvonne DeCarlo in the TV sitcom “The Munsters.”)

“Vampire” proved the apex of her career. After featured roles in the Buster Crabbe serial “Flash Gordon” she left pictures for academia, earned a doctorate in education and taught early childhood development at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena and at UCLA Extension.

She later moved with her husband, film publicist and writer Vernon Parten, to Virginia.

The only thing she ever really enjoyed about her brief film career, she said years later, was that two actresses “are fighting over my face.”