I interviewed former 60s starlet Salli Sachse about 12 years ago for my first book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema.
Her name may not be familiar, but to fans of American International
Pictures’ series of beach movies her face is easily recognizable. With
her waist-long honey brown hair and adorable smile, Salli, literally
plucked off the beach in San Diego, appeared in almost every beach
party film beginning with Muscle Beach Party (1964) through The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966) and everything else in between including Bikini Beach (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965).
Recalling her time with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, Salli
remarked, "Frankie and Annette were very easy going and a pleasure to
work with but they weren’t real beach people. Frankie was raised in
Philadelphia so I don’t think he ever saw a surfboard in his life! And
Annette refused to wear a bikini. She would only wear a one-piece but
I think that had something to do with her contract with Walt Disney.
Annette was such a straight girl—a good Italian Catholic. Because we
grew up on the beach, a lot of us thought we were so cool compared to
Frankie and Annette. I remember that on one movie we were filming some
beach scenes late in the afternoon. It was really chilly and we were
fighting the light. Wrapped in terry cloth robes, a group of us
huddled together to keep warm. Carl the prop man handed us a bottle of
brandy. We were surprised when Annette took a couple of swigs. She
got a bit tipsy and was clowning around. It was the only time I ever
saw her let herself go wild.”
When the beach films became passe during the turbulent late sixties, Salli graduated to playing a drag strip groupie in Fireball 500 (1966) to a biker chick in Devil’s Angels (1967) to her most famous role as the LSD freak-out girl opposite Peter Fonda in The Trip (1967) to playing a hippie paramour of rock star Christopher Jones in Wild in the Streets
(1968). Unfortunately, along the way there was heartbreak when her
husband Peter Sachse tragically died in a plane crash in 1966 while
Salli was in Hong Kong filming The Million Eyes of Su-Muru.
Salli chucked her movie career in 1969 to concentrate on modeling
then photography then studying art in Europe during the seventies.
Returning to the U.S., she earned a Masters in Psychology and became a
counselor for "at risk" teens.
In August 2006 Salli was reunited with beach party regulars the
late Mary Hughes, Patti Chandler, and Linda Opie for a photo shoot
celebrating surf culture in the 1950s and 1960s for Vanity Fair. Below is a photo taken by Salli's friend while visiting the shoot. Pictured are Mary, Salli, Patti and Linda.
Today Salli Sachse has a new web sitewhere fans can peruse pictures of Salli from her Hollywood and
modeling days or purchase her beautiful art work. And she is currently
working on her memoir, which should prove to be a very interesting
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