Lina Romay – Cult Horror Actress Dead at 57
I first discovered the captivating allure of Lina Romay 30 years ago in the early days of VHS when I rented a tape called THE LOVES OF IRENA on the old Private Screenings label. It was Spanish director Jess Franco’s erotic 1973 twist on the vampire legend also known as (among other titles) FEMALE VAMPIRE, THE BARE BREASTED COUNTESS, and EROTIKILL. Romay spends most of her screen time almost completely nude, strolling about in the fog wearing nothing but a cape and big wide black boots and I was immediately smitten. I sought out more films with the actress and found out she was Franco’s common-law wife and would perform in over 100 films from the prolific cult director including such gems as BARBED WIRE DOLLS, JACK THE RIPPER, and WANDA THE WICKED WARDEN (with Dyanne Thorne, it was later retitled and sold as an Ilsa sequel). Romay and Franco had been together for over 40 years and were making movies together up until a couple of years ago (in which she was still doing explicit nude scenes). Born Rosa Maria Almirall Martinez in 1954, Lina Romay died last week of cancer at age 57.
Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas cowrote the (rare and long out-of-print) book Obsession, the Films of Jess Franco in 1996 and his tribute to Lina Romay on his Video Watchblog says it best:
Tragic news has emerged today from Spain, where actor Antonio Mayans formally announced the death last week, on February 15, of actress and filmmaker Lina Romay.
Born Rosa María Almirall Martínez in June 1954, she entered the world of cinema in a brief appearance in Jess Franco’s film THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (1972) as a gypsy girl, which appears in only the Spanish variant of the picture. She came to Franco’s attention as the movie-loving girlfriend of his stills photographer Ramon Ardid, but it soon became apparent to both Jess and Lina (as he renamed her, using the name of the retired former singer with Xavier Cugat’s band, who died a couple of years ago) that they were personally and creatively inseparable. Their attraction ended Franco’s marriage to his script girl Nicole Guettard. For Franco’s part, having found it difficult to reassemble himself following the 1970 accidental death of his most promising actress Soledad Miranda, he claimed to sense a reincarnation of Soledad in Lina, and she — who never met her predecessor — claimed to sense her presence watching over them at times, as if from within……..
Read the rest of Tim’s outstanding tribute to Lina Romay HERE