Barbara Leigh was born Barbara
Kish, in Ringgold, Georgia, a small town of barely 500 residents
that borders Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Barbara stayed there until she was 5, then her family moved to
Miami, Florida. At the age of 16 Barbara spent her summer
vacation visiting family in Georgia and Tennessee. That’s when
she met and married the first love of her life. Her husband served in
the Marine Corps and was stationed in Cuba. Two years later her
son, Gerry Haynes, was born.
At 19, Barbara and her family moved to Los Angeles, California.
She worked as a nurse while raising her son, and soon
divorced….settling into the life of a single mother.
One day a co-worker asked if she would like to go dancing in
Beverly Hills at “The Other Place” a once popular nightclub. It
was Barbara’s first nightclub experience. That evening, the
band’s lead singer, Mark Devlin, spotted her in the audience.
They began dating. Mark had professional photographs taken of
Barbara, which were later used by the Kodak Film Company. This
started Barbara’s career in modeling.
Barbara moved to New York City, signed with the famous Ford
Modeling Agency, returned to Los Angeles and embarked on an
acting career, first by studying with Charles Conrad. She was
quickly signed by The Ashley Famous Agency, which is now better
known as International Creative Management, and assigned to
agent Dick Clayton, known for discovering James Dean, among
numerous other stars. Her first commercial was for Coca-Cola.
When it was time to join the Screen Actors Guild, the name
Barbara Haynes had already been taken, bringing about the need
for a change. Her agent happened to be reading that Vivian Leigh
had just died, and abruptly blurted out to the whole office,
“That's it, Barbara Leigh!”
Vivian Leigh had died….and Barbara Leigh was born.
Barbara went on to make over 50 commercials. Several won awards
for Best Commercial Of The Year. She then began making feature
and TV films, even becoming a regular on the series “Harry O,”
starring David Jansen. Barbara remembers that, “David was kind.
He'd share a scene with you and offer advice, which is rare in
Barbara was walking on the beach in Malibu, California, when she
was spotted by the French director, Roger Vadim, famous for
discovering Bridget Bardot, and marrying Jane Fonda. Running
from his beachfront home, Vadim pegged Barbara for the role of
Jean, Rock Hudson's wife in the movie, “Pretty Maids All In A
Row.” Vadim was convinced Barbara was perfect for the part and
ended his search.
Roger Vadim took Barbara to Paris. “Being in Paris with Roger
was like being with royalty. Everyone knew him. He was stopped
constantly for autographs. He was a wild man and we had great
fun, but what impressed me most is that he was such a loving
father.” Barbara was offered a part starring opposite Bridget
Bardot in Vadim’s next movie, but she was homesick for America.
Barbara's favorite film to work on was “Junior Bonner.” Being
cast opposite Steve McQueen was exciting and an unforgettable
experience, as was working with the film’s controversial
director, Sam Peckinpah. Barbara met McQueen during casting and
began dating him before shooting started. Their love affair has
been documented in her book, “The King, McQueen And The Love
During this period Barbara also dated the President of MGM
Studios, the legendary Jim Aubrey (also known as The Smiling
Cobra and The Love Machine). Jacqueline Susanne's best-selling
novel, “The Love Machine,” and the film adapted from it, were
based on Aubrey's life. He introduced Barbara to Elvis Presley
at the Las Vegas Hilton, and shortly afterward….Elvis and
Barbara were dating. Over the next several years Barbara
accompanied The King on a number of tours, and remained close
friends until his death.
Barbara's biggest break came in 1975, when she was cast to play
what would turn out to be the most important role of her life, “Vampirella,”
for England’s Hammer Films.
For Barbara, Vampirella was, “A dream come true.” As a child,
Barbara had two passions. One was the story of Dracula. The
other was Egyptian culture, which she has studied her entire
life, making her an amateur Egyptologist.
During a worldwide search, Michael Carreras of Hammer Films cast
Barbara as the perfect Vampirella, and signed her to a six
But like so many things in the film industry, the project was
After the Vampirella project folded, Barbara married a New York
lawyer and retired from the business….heartbroken that she never
fulfilled her dream to play the one character that meant so much
Though Barbara has modeled around the world, graced the covers
of dozens of magazines, and with fan clubs as far away as
Yugoslavia, she found time to attend L.A’s Antioch College West,
majoring in psychology, and studied Commercial Real Estate
Development at New York University. She is currently a licensed
real estate Agent in Los Angeles.
It wouldn't be until the mid 1990's that the Vampirella
character came back into Barbara's life, as she became known as
the first and “Original Vampirella” to legions of Vampirella
In April of 1995, the annual Chiller Theater Convention invited
Barbara to be a part of the festivities. Hundreds of fans
showed up to see her as Vampirella, many of whom had seen her at
"The Famous Monster Convention" of 1976 held in New
York City, with Peter Cushing, Forrest Ackerman, James Warren
and Michael Carreras.
Today Barbara appears at autograph conventions, where she
displays the original Vampirella costume and jewelry, which were
made for her by the famed Western Costume Company.
Barbara retired from Playboy in January 2014. She posed for Playboy
for two celebrity pictorials (May '73 & January '77). She has
always had great respect for Hugh Hefner and the magazine. As a
hobby, Barbara works with a local Animal Rescue and writes. She
is also generously involved in civic and community activities,
and in the past, she has volunteered her time to the Star Light
Foundation and The Aids Healthcare Foundation
Barbara co-wrote her autobiography, entitled, “The King, McQueen
and The Love Machine,” with Marshall Terrill, who wrote the
best-selling biography, “Steve McQueen.” The book details
Barbara's life, along with the excitement, passion and heartache
of her romantic and extraordinary relationships with Elvis
Presley, Steve McQueen and Jim Aubrey.
Barbara with her Devon Rex kitten, Imhotep, (2008).
Above and left
Barbara @ her Playboy desk 2007
Barbara is a spokes woman for the NGDF.
Please visit www.ngdf.org
the Apes (1981) .... Laura
Seven (1979) .... Alexa
Swim Team (1979)
Boss Man (1975) .... Miss Pruitt
Smile, Jenny, You're Dead (1974) (TV)
(uncredited) .... Harry's
Terminal Island (1973) .... Bunny
Junior Bonner (1972) .... Charmagne
Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971) .... Jean
Christian Licorice Store, The (1971) .... 1st
Student Nurses, The (1970) .... Priscilla
Ballad of Andy Crocker, The (1969) (TV)
W.E.B. (guest star)
The Incredible Hulk (guest star)
Rockford Files (co-star)
Dan August (featured)
Movie of the Week (featured)
Price is Right (hostess)