Eve Meyer: Pin-Up, Producer and Air Disaster Fatality

Eve Meyer (Evelyn Eugene Turner, 1928-1977) was born on this day.

The buxom Georgia beauty began her career as a pin-up model, often posing nude or topless. In 1952, she married photographer and film-maker Russ Meyer, a relationship that would determine her destiny thenceforward; she was to be his first muse. Eve often modeled for her husband, but she also had a substantial career outside their collaborations. 1955 was a breakthrough year for her: she was a Playboy Playmate of the Month, and she had a small unbilled part in the Martin and Lewis comedy Artists and Models (guess which she was — an artist or a model?)

Her involvement in the film industry intensified at the end of the decade. In 1959, she starred in the AIP comedy Operation Dames. That same year Russ Meyer directed his first film The Immoral Mr. Tease. In 1961 they joined forces when Eve starred in Meyers’ naughty nudie cutie Eve and the Handyman. This was to be Eve’s last starring part. After this, she devoted her attention to working behind the camera as a producer, helping her husband produce the cleavagey classics: Lorna (1964), Mudhoney (1965), Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), Motorpsycho! (1965), Mondo Topless (1966), Common Law Cabin (1967), Good Morning…and Goodbye! (1967), Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers (1968),  and Vixen! (1968).

In 1969 the pair divorced; the following year Meyer married Edy Williams one of the stars of his film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. In typical sophisticated Hollywood fashion, Eve continued to produce his movies nevertheless, including Beyond, as well as Cherry, Harry and Raquel! (1970); The Seven Minutes (1971); and Black Snake (1973). Following this, Meyer produced his subsequent features on his own.

After March 27, 1977, the question of whether Eve would have teamed up with Russ again became academic. That was the day she took Pan Am Flight 1736, a Boeing 747 from Los Angeles to the Canary Islands and was killed in what is often still called the worst disaster in aviation history, the Tenerife Airport Disaster, which killed 583 people. (Certainly, more died on 9/11, but I think most of us realize that this was another type of event, not an accident or passive “disaster”, but a terrorist incident and act of war. In addition, the number of airplane casualties, not including people on the ground, on 9/11 was 265, spread across four separate incidents.) The Tenerife Disaster was a runway collision that occurred in a fog while the planes were taxiing in crowded conditions. Those who weren’t killed in the initial crash perished in the flames that swept through the cabins. There were 61 survivors, but Eve was not one of the lucky ones. Her last photo session was to be her saddest, for the pictures looked like this:

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