Tura Satana was born Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi in Hokkaidō, Japan. Her father was a silent movie actor of Japanese and Filipino descent, and her mother was a circus performer of American Indian (Cheyenne) and Scots-Irish descent. After World War II, Satana and her family spent some time in the Manzanar internment camp in Lone Pine, California and then moved to the Westside of Chicago. Despite her early development and constant harassment for her voluptuous figure and Asian heritage, Satana remained at the top of her class.
At the age of 9, while walking home from school, she was gang raped by five men who were never prosecuted. It was rumored that the judge had been paid off. This spurred Satana into learning akido and karate, which she then used over the next 15 years as she tracked down each rapist, and exacted revenge.
“I made a vow to myself that I would someday, somehow get even with all of them”, she said years later. “They never knew who I was until I told them.”
Because of the rape and the alleged bribed judge, she was sent to reform school as a teenager and became the leader of a gang. By 13, she was married in a short-lived arranged relationship and when that didn’t work out, she ran off to Los Angeles with a fake ID and tried her hand at blues singing. When the blues career fell flat she started modeling bathing suits and in the nude.
Shortly after that she returned to Chicago to live with her parents and took up exotic dancing. She was known as Galatea, The Statue that Came to Life, and at 19, Satana became pregnant, but continued dancing for the next eight months (and made about $1,500 a week doing it).
She gradually began an acting carerr which led to her most noted screen role as “Varla” in the 1965 film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!–a very aggressive and sexual female character. She did all of her own stunts and the director cited her as a major influence on the style of the film. She is credited with coming up with most of the film’s best lines.
After making The Doll Squad in 1973, Satana was shot by a former lover and from that incident she later found employment in a hospital, a position she kept for four years.
Satana also dated Elvis Presley but turned down his marriage proposal, though she did keep the ring. Satana eventually married a retired LA police officer in 1981, and remained married until her husband died in October 2000. She had two daughters from a previous relationship.
On February 4, 2011, in Reno, Nevada Satana died from what has been stated as heart failure.