Mara Corday is a showgirl, model, actress, Playboy Playmate and a 1950s cult figure.
Mara Corday was born Marilyn Joan Watts on January 3, 1930 in Santa Monica, California. When Corday was seventeen she came to Hollywood and found work as a showgirl at the Earl Carroll Theatre on Sunset Boulevard. Her physical beauty brought jobs as a photographer’s model that led to a bit part as a showgirl in the 1951 film “Two Tickets to Broadway”. She signed on as a Universal International Pictures contract player where she met actor Clint Eastwood with whom she would remain lifelong friends. With Universal, Corday was given small roles in various B-movies and television series. Her roles were small until 1955 when she was cast opposite John Agar in “Tarantula”, a Sci-Fi B-movie that proved a modest success. She had another successful co-starring role in “The Black Scorpion” (1957) as well as in a number of Western films. Respected film critic Leonard Maltin said that Mara Corday had “more acting ability than she was permitted to exhibit.”
Mara Corday appeared as a pinup girl in numerous men’s magazines during the 1950s and was the Playmate of the October 1958 issue of Playboy, together with famous model and showgirl Pat Sheehan. In 1956, she had a recurring role in the ABC television series Combat Sergeant. From 1959 to early 1961, Corday worked exclusively doing guest spots on various television series. She then gave up her career to devote her time to raising a family.
In 1954 on the set of “Playgirl” she met actor Richard Long. Following the death of Long’s wife, the two began dating and married in 1957. During her seventeen-year marriage to Richard Long she had three children.
A few years after her husband’s passing in 1974, Mara Corday’s friend Clint Eastwood offered her a chance to return to film making with a role in his 1977 film “The Gauntlet”. Corday had a brief-but-significant role in “Sudden Impact” (1983), where she played the waitress dumping sugar into Harry Callahan’s coffee in that movie’s iconic “Go ahead, make my day” sequence. Corday acted with Eastwood again in “Pink Cadillac” (1989) as well as in her last film “The Rookie” (1990).