Roger Corman star Susan Cabot’s life was every bit as tragic and sensational as her films. She was born Harriet Shapiro on July 9th 1927 in Boston. She grew up shuffled between 8 foster homes. After attending school in Manhattan, Cabot married at 17 perhaps to escape her transient state. She soon developed an interest in acting and singing – performing evenings at Manhattan’s Village Barn. A film career seemed destined when quite by chance the lovely nightclub singer appeared in the 1947 20th Century Fox film ‘Kiss of Death’ with Colleen Gray and Victor Mature. After the film she remained in New York for a bit and did some television work.

Soon the gorgeous stardom-seeking brunette moved to Hollywood. She was cast in Columbia’s ‘On The Isle of Samoa’ before coming under exclusive contract with Universal Pictures. At the studio she was cast primarily in westerns along with periodic “harem adventures” – some of her titles from this period include ‘The Duel at Silver Creek’ (with Audie Murphy and Faith Domergue), ‘Gunsmoke’, ‘Son of Ali Baba’, ‘Flame of Araby’, ‘Tomahawk’, and ‘Ride Clear of Diablo’. Dissatisfied with the direction her career was going (or rather not going) she headed back to New York for theater work. Her stage career proved less than illustrious and in 1957 she made a decision that would insure her screen immortality…she signed an exclusive contract with producer Roger Corman (whom she briefly dated as well). First up she was the villainous Enger in ‘The Viking Women and The Sea Serpent’ with Abby Dalton and Gary Conway. She filmed beautifully. In that 1957 feature she is mauled to death by dogs. The same year she played Natalie Cook in ‘Carnival Rock’ and also starred in one of her most deliciously twisted roles – ‘Sorority Girl’ – both costarred Dick Miller. In the latter Cabot played a rejected sorority pledge that seeks revenge on her “sisters”. As the lovely psychotic she was determined to ruin their reputations and lives! The film costarred June Kenny, Barbara Crane, Barboura Morris and Fay Baker. It was a deliciously wicked showcase for her talents. Another notable film from this period in her career is ‘Machine Gun Kelly’ (1958) with a young Charles Bronson.

However, Susan Cabot’s most famous role was also her final film. In 1960 she played cosmetics company president Janice Starlin in ‘The Wasp Woman’. The $50,000 film has since become a cult classic. In order to save her company and reverse the aging process and 40-year-old Starlin injects an experimental drug made of wasp enzymes to turn her into a 22 year old…but this experimental drug has some wicked side effects. Eventually the vain and powerful businesswoman becomes a ruthless buzzness-woman --- periodically taking the form of a giant wasp and attacking, “stinging”, and devouring her enemies with aplomb. In the end, the giant insect/woman gets hers and is doused in carbolic acid and falls out a window to her death. The film costarred Barboura Morris, Anthony Eisley, and Bruno VeSota. (The film was popular enough to be remade in 1995 with Jennifer Rubin in the title role.)

After the film Cabot decided to return to her singing and stage career, which proved rather lackadaisical. She was twice married and twice divorced and even had a well publicized relationship with King Hussein of Jordan. In 1964 the 5’ 2” Cabot gave birth to a son Timothy who suffered from dwarfism.

On December 10th 1986 at the age of 59 Susan Cabot was murdered, bashed to death while she slept with a dumbbell weight bar. When police entered the residence they found the home in a state of absolute squalor and disarray. Ms. Cabot was found in the bedroom, lying on her stomach in bed and wearing a purple v-neck nightgown. Her skull had been completely crushed. Police noted blood splattered on the mirrored walls and (ahem!) ceiling of the bedroom. Initially son Timothy contested that a “Latino intruder dressed as a Ninja warrior” had broken into their Encino home and attacked his mother. Police were somewhat skeptical about the intruder tale for several reasons – Latino ninja aside, there were FOUR attack Akitas in the house as well – a very good deterrent against most intruders, even ninjas.

A short time later Timothy confessed to police the he had in fact committed the murder, citing years of mental and physical abuse. He revealed the weight bar as the murder weapon. He’d hidden it in a box of laundry detergent. According to neighbors the mother and son were inseparable, though Timothy resented his overprotective mother for several reasons; not the least of which was she supposedly had been taking the experimental growth hormone prescribed for him due to his dwarfism. The drug had greatly affected her mental state…and the son had been taking it for 15 years! Following a very messy trial, Timothy received a three year suspended sentence and was placed on probation.

Susan Cabot was interred at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City. She is in the Sunland Gardens section, Wall Crypt C, space #242.