thought of “Perils of Nyoka” in years until a friend mentioned that “Jurassic
Park 2” reminded her of the riveting serial that drew us to the picture show every
So taken were we kids with these cliffhangers that we relived
them every school day during recess. Our movie set was a deep and wide ditch in
back of San Jacinto Elementary School in Baytown.
Insisting we needed more variety in our lives, one of our teachers asked why we
didn’t choose another recess subject. Didn’t we get bored re-creating “Perils
of Nyoka” day after day?
“No ma’am,.” we’d say, remaining loyal to Nyoka and
continuing our dialog in the ditch until the bell ran.
At the time we didn’t know the serial had won critical acclaim, and we didn’t
care. All we knew was that no-fear Nyoka was our super heroine.
of Nyoka,” according to the critics today, ranks as one of the best serials in
film history. It had it all -- great cast, exciting stories, awesome stunts and
even an outstanding musical background score.
George Lucas and
Steven Spielberg reportedly studied this serial closely before filming
“Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Who now, among
you, can name the actress who played Nyoka.
As we faithfully followed
every harrowing escape in the story line, most of us had no idea who Nyoka was
in real life.
Envelope, please. ...And the answer is ... Kay Aldridge,
a former fashion model who made her movie debut in a Gene
Autry movie. Although her film career was brief, Aldridge had a legion of
fans and she often lectured on her life as a serial queen.
a raven-haired beauty, portrayed Vultura, Nyoka’s nemesis. The villainess had
a pet gorilla named Satan; that should tell you something.
out in a John Wayne western at Republic Studios, Gray enjoyed a lengthy if not
a high-profile screen career.
An unknown actor named Clayton Moore,
who soon would be riding to longtime fame as the Lone Ranger, played Dr. Larry
Grayson, the hero in “Perils of Nyoka.”
the story begins, Dr. Grayson arrives in a small town in Africa, seeking the Golden
Tablets of Hippocrates. These tablets are reported to contain the cure for cancer,
besides giving the location of a vast treasure.
Vultura and her henchmen
didn’t care about curing cancer. The report of a treasure is what drew their interest.
Enter Nyoka. She’s searching for her father, a noted scientist who vanished
while looking for the tablets. She’s spunky, energetic and downright cute -- a
fresh-face campfire girl in contrast to the mean and mysterious Vultura.
Nyoka had terrific dog named Fang, the good animal in contrast to Vultura’s bad
A stunt man, wearing a blonde wig, did all the life-threatening
work for Kay Aldridge, dangling over hot lava, plunging 80 feet into water, leaping
from rocky slags onto startled villains.
“Nyoka and the Tigermen,” a video of this serial has been made but it’s hard to
If you really want to get your hands on the video, don’t give up,
keep trying, show some spunk.
That’s what Nyoka would do.
December 17, 2012 columns
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