Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS passes at 83

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      Following the news today (February 5) of Kirk Douglas's death, it was announced that actor Dyanne Thorne passed on January 28 at the age of 83.

      While Ms. Thorne couldn't boast a resume that included work with Stanley Kubrick or Billy Wilder (their loss), she nonetheless left a deep and everlasting impression on exploitation film buffs for a handful of grindhouse classics released to an appalled world in the '70s. It's impossible to underestimate the impact of her most infamous role, when she took the lead in director Don Edmonds' magnificently lurid Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS.

      The pneumatic Thorne embodied the sadistic kink-mistress and Nazi commandant of the title with inspiring gusto, inviting huge and enduring box office and prompting not only two official sequels—1976's Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Shieks was actually even more tasteless than its predecessor; and 1977's disconsolate Ilsa Tigress of Siberia much less so—but also a fourth feature, Wanda the Wicked Warden, also released in 1977. Wanda relocated Thorne's iconic dominatrix to South America and provided Spanish Eurosleaze legend Jess Franco with one of his best efforts from the era.

      More to the point: Thorne presided over these quasi-softcore affronts to decency with humour and dignity, winning the undying affection of her fan base and those who followed in her path. She once said: "I never tried to glorify Ilsa. I felt she was a character to pity, rather than to emulate. I wanted to show the truth about her."

      Born in Connecticut in 1943, Dyanne Thorne entered showbusiness as a stage actress before moving to LA in the '60s and finding work in Star Trek and movies including 1967's The President's Analyst.

      Thorne is survived by her husband of 45 years, Howard Maurer, with whom she worked later in life as an ordained minister in Las Vegas. You read that right: she was absolutely one of a kind.