Sandra Giles, Actress in 'Daddy-O' and 'It Happened at the World's Fair,' Dies at 84

American International Pictures (AIP)/Photofest
Sandra Giles with Dick Contino in the 1958 film 'Daddy-O'

The blond bombshell, who was discovered at Canter's delicatessen, had a flair for publicity and dated tennis player Bobby Riggs.

Sandra Giles, an actress and Hollywood pinup queen who appeared in such films as Daddy-O and Elvis Presley's It Happened at the World's Fair, has died. She was 84.

Giles died in Los Angeles on Christmas Day after a battle with bullous pemphigoid, an autoimmune skin disease, her daughter, singer Sandra Piller, told The Hollywood Reporter.

In her big-screen debut, Giles bested singer-accordionist Dick Contino in a drag race and danced to some rock 'n' roll in Daddy-O (1958), which was scored by John Williams in his feature debut. The starlet also appeared in The Matchmaker, A Lust to Kill and Lost, Lonely and Vicious that year.

She later could be seen in Black Spurs (1965); with Raquel Welch in Flareup (1969); and in Black Gunn (1972), starring Jim Brown.

"She had that wonderful appeal for all the guys, but she didn't intimidate the women," the late producer A.C. Lyles once said. "She had the same innocence as Marilyn [Monroe]. She didn't look like she would go after someone's husband. And she had this great gift for publicity, hardly without even trying. It just seemed to come to her."

A native of Hooker, Okla., Lelia Bernice Giles came to California to be with her divorced mother. While working at Canter's delicatessen in Los Angeles, she was noticed by a press agent, jump-starting her career.

In 1958, Giles upstaged the Hollywood premiere of the Clark Gable-Doris Day film Teacher's Pet when she emerged in the rain from a pink, furry convertible Cadillac. That led to her being photographed in a bubble bath for a Life magazine spread that was headlined, "The Blond From Hooker — How to Become a Movie Star."

Later, Giles participated in a publicity stunt in which a nude painting of her was unveiled at the reopening of the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas in 1966. And in the 1970s, she dated tennis player Bobby Riggs, right around the time of his Battle of the Sexes duel with Billie Jean King.

Giles also was on television in Bachelor Father, Peter Gunn, Rawhide, Burke's Law, Quincy M.E., Columbo, Land of the Giants, Adam-12 and The Odd Couple (in an episode with Riggs).

On the stage, she appeared with Tony Randall and Mickey Rooney in a production of The Odd Couple at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and co-starred with Don Knotts in Last of the Red Hot Lovers.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include grandchildren Shawn and Brent and great-grandson Ryan.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Michael Piller's University of North Carolina screenwriters fund (named for her daughter's late husband, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager creator Michael Pillar). Click on "Search Funds" to find the Piller Family Fund.

  

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