Monday, August 14, 2006

Candice Rialson (1951-2006)

What a bummer, to read over at Mark Evanier's excellent blog, News From ME, that Candice Rialson, a fondly recalled starlet from 1970s cinema, has died. Apparently, she passed away due to natural causes back in March, but the news is only now making the rounds.

The name Candice Rialson may not ring a bell to many of you, but for those of us who were hyperhormonal teenaged males during those wild and crazy '70s, Ms. Rialson's face — and her... ahem... other attributes were an essential element of our adolescence.

Although she made brief appearances in several major studio mainstream films, including the sci-fi epic Logan's Run and the Clint Eastwood thriller The Eiger Sanction, Rialson was best known for her work in such cheap, sensationalistic Grade Z fare as Hollywood Boulevard and the cable TV staple Candy Stripe Nurses, which teamed Candice with future soap opera queen Robin Mattson.

Candice stood out (no pun intended) in these flicks, not just because she was pretty in a stereotypical California blonde kind of way, but because she actually had a smattering of acting talent, coupled with a generous dose of sharp comic timing. Despite the fact that most of her films were drive-in fodder designed to appeal to horny high school boys and raincoat-clad adult men, Rialson defined the old cliché, "She was better than her material."

Hollywood Boulevard was probably Rialson's best shot at a starring role, though I'm admittedly partial to Moonshine County Express, in which Rialson costars alongside such industry superstars as John (Enter the Dragon) Saxon, William (Jake and the Fat Man) Conrad, Maureen "Marcia Brady" McCormick, and the legendary Claudia (Gator Bait) Jennings. It's '70s white-trash cinema at its... umm... white-trashiest.

It's a tribute to Candice's legacy that Quentin Tarantino intended Bridget Fonda's pharmaceutically impaired, sexually hyperactive character in Jackie Brown to represent a composite of Ms. Rialson's screen roles. If you've been spoofed in a QT opus, your place in film history is secure.

Candice, Claudia, Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith... all gone to that big drive-in theater in the sky. (Or somewhere.)

My long-departed adolescence can't withstand too many more losses like these.

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