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The Astounding She-Monster: Revisiting the Life of Shirley Kilpatrick Profile

The Astounding She-Monster: Revisiting the Life of Shirley Kilpatrick
The Astounding She-Monster: Revisiting the Life of Shirley Kilpatrick
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The Astounding She-Monster: Revisiting the Life of Shirley Kilpatrick - Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen's Quarterly Newsletter (Excerpt)
Shirley Jean Abbott was born on October 4, 1935 in Los Angeles, California to Wilbur C. and Ruth E. Abbott (née Lindgren/Lingren). Wilbur was a veteran of the armed forces and trailer salesman from Alabama, while Ruth was an immigrant from Sweden who did sporadic modeling. Shirley attended Glendale High School, but dropped out -as her parents had- at age 16 after marrying Robert W. Kilpatrick, who was a bodybuilder and former Sergeant of the U.S Navy. Their turbulent marriage ended two years later and Shirley began her modeling career shortly thereafter. Her sensational figure and warm personality earned her the title of Miss Bay Beach and Miss Venice Beach in 1953. This was followed by various modeling gigs that included pictorials in "Your Figure by Jack LaLane", "People Today", and "Picture Scope". She was popular among male readers due to her curvaceous figure and appearance that resembled Marilyn Monroe. She got an onscreen role in Silver Lode (1954) as a bridesmaid, a role that was significantly reduced because she wasn't a trained actress.
Continuing with her lucrative modeling career, Shirley appeared in provocative magazines like "Gala", "Chicks and Chuckles", and "Modern Man". She starred in The Astounding She-Monster (1957), which solidified her status as an icon among fans of the sci-fi genre. Filming took four days on a low budget. She and the movie's director, Ronald V. Ashcroft, would often joke about giving her character lines in the script. As the film was halfway through its completion, Shirley's costume tore in the back. She was told to walk backwards in the remainder of her scenes, as the producer couldn't afford another costume. Her co-star Robert Clarke would say years later that "Shirley was big in the behind and big in the bosom. As an actress, she didn't do a lot and she didn't have to. She had all that other stuff going for her." The movie is considered a cult classic among contemporary audiences.
After filming concluded, she married actor and shipping heir Parker Egggleston. Together they had a daughter named Karen Eggleston. Unfortunately, their married didn't last. Shirley wanted to continue pursuing her fading career and filed for divorce despite Parker begging her to reconsider. She got a featured role in The Gene Krupa Story (1958) as a dancer before marrying Antonio L Maldarella Jr and retiring from the industry. They lived on Edgecliffe Drive in Los Angeles, divorcing in 1962. In an interview, he referred to her as “looney” and someone who “dabbled into heroine.” She returned to modeling to support herself, appearing in "Battle Cry", "Gaze", and "Jubilee". After a short-lived married to Donald W. Coffman which ended in divorce after she held him at gunpoint, she married Joseph B. Settle Jr. The couple lived in Las Vegas, Nevada where Joseph owned a nursery. He -like Shirley- had a been divorced a lot.
Shirley grew tired of modeling, and stared writing for the Las Vegas Review-Journal instead. She studied metaphysics and became a Psychic. According to her daughter, Shirley did her best acting in her new career. She dressed professionally, wore glasses, and vigorously rehearsed to seem as professional as possible for her clients -many of whom were wealthy- when using an Ouija. As she delved into this trade, her mental health rapidly deteriorated. The alleged abuse from her husband didn't help either. While staying at a hotel in Las Vegas during a trial separation, she overdosed on barbiturates on March 19, 1971. She was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery days later. She is survived by her daughter Karen, who lives on a ranch in Kentucky.

There were decades of rumors regarding her fate. Nathan Schiff felt that Shirley Kilpatrick was actually well-known actress Shirley Stoler, while Paul Parla thought Shirley was living in Washington. After years of directors, journalists, and co-stars searching for her whereabouts, I am happy to have finally solved the mystery. I hope that this provides comfort for her fans, and I hope that she had some happiness in her life.
Written by Samuel Clemens
March 31, 2020
Sources:
Karen Caylor, Antonio Maldarella, Laura Maldarella, Fitchburg Sentinel - September 5, 1962, Citizen-News - November 12, 1964, Evening Vanguard - July 6, 1953, The Desert Sun - August 6, 1959, Evening Vanguard - July 7, 1953
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