Allison Hayes was a beautiful and talented actress who starred in several films and television shows in the 1950s and 1960s. She is best remembered for her role as the giantess Nancy Fowler Archer in the cult classic Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958). However, her life was cut short by a mysterious illness that claimed her life in 1977. What was the cause of her death? Was it leukemia, lead poisoning, or something else?
Early Life and Career
Allison Hayes was born Mary Jane Hayes on March 6, 1930, in Charleston, West Virginia. She was the daughter of William E. Hayes and Charlotte Gibson Hayes. She attended Calvin Coolidge High School and won the title of Miss District of Columbia in 1949. She represented D.C. in the Miss America pageant, but did not win. However, this gave her the opportunity to work in local television before moving to Hollywood in 1954.
She signed a contract with Universal Pictures and made her film debut in Francis Joins the WACS (1954), a comedy featuring a talking mule. Her second film, Sign of the Pagan (1954), gave her a more prominent role as a seductive siren who kills Jack Palance’s character. She also appeared in minor roles in several other films, such as The Purple Mask (1955) and The Conqueror (1956).
In 1955, she was released from her contract with Universal after she sued the studio for injuries she sustained during the filming of Sign of the Pagan, including broken ribs. She then signed with Columbia Pictures and starred in films such as Chicago Syndicate (1955), Count Three and Pray (1955), The Steel Jungle (1956), Mohawk (1956), and Gunslinger (1956). However, she broke her arm after falling from a horse while filming Gunslinger, which prevented her from working for a while.
She recovered and began appearing in supporting roles in television shows, such as The Millionaire (1957), Maverick (1957), Perry Mason (1960-1965), and The Untouchables (1960). She also starred in several B-movies, such as The Undead (1957), The Unearthly (1957), Wolf Dog (1958), and most famously, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958). In this film, she played Nancy Fowler Archer, a wealthy socialite who grows to giant size after being exposed to an alien ray. The film became a cult classic and is considered one of the best examples of the “giant woman” genre.
Health Problems and Death
In the early 1960s, Hayes began to suffer from severe health problems, such as chronic pain, fatigue, weight loss, hair loss, and depression. She consulted several doctors, but none of them could diagnose her condition or provide effective treatment. She suspected that she had been poisoned by calcium supplements that she had been taking since 1960. She claimed that these supplements contained lead and other toxic metals that damaged her bones and organs.
She became an advocate for consumer protection and testified before the United States Senate in 1975 about the dangers of unregulated dietary supplements. She also appeared on several talk shows and documentaries to raise awareness about her condition and warn others about the potential risks of taking supplements without proper testing or labeling.
However, her health continued to deteriorate and she was confined to a wheelchair by 1976. She died on February 27, 1977, at the age of 46, in San Diego, California. The official cause of death was listed as leukemia or lead poisoning . However, some sources claim that she died of blood poisoning or complications from surgery . Her body was cremated and her ashes were interred with her father at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Legacy and Controversy
Allison Hayes left behind a legacy of memorable performances in films and television shows that are still enjoyed by fans today. She is regarded as one of the most beautiful and versatile actresses of her era. She is also remembered for her courage and activism in fighting for consumer rights and exposing the dangers of unregulated supplements.
However, her cause of death remains a mystery and a source of controversy. Some experts doubt that she was poisoned by calcium supplements, as there is no conclusive evidence that they contained lead or other harmful substances . They suggest that she may have had an undiagnosed genetic disorder or an autoimmune disease that caused her symptoms . They also point out that leukemia is a common cause of death among people who have been exposed to radiation , which Hayes may have encountered during her film career.
Others believe that she was indeed poisoned by calcium supplements, as there have been cases of supplements containing lead and other contaminants that have caused serious health problems and deaths . They argue that Hayes was a victim of negligence and fraud by the supplement industry, which was poorly regulated and monitored at the time . They also note that Hayes had high levels of lead in her blood and bones, which could have been caused by the supplements .
The truth may never be known, as Hayes’ medical records and autopsy report have not been made public. However, her story serves as a cautionary tale and a reminder of the importance of consumer safety and awareness. Allison Hayes was a talented and beautiful actress who deserved a better fate. She will always be remembered as the 50-foot woman who captured the hearts of millions.