Suzanna Leigh, Elvis Presley's co-star in 'Paradise, Hawaiian Style,' dies at 72

Suzanna Leigh, who co-starred with Elvis Presley in the 1966 musical comedy Paradise, Hawaiian Style, has died. She was 72.

Her daughter, actress Natalia Leigh, announced her death in a Facebook post on Monday.

"My warrior and my heart died at 5:30PM, on her terms," she wrote. "It was time for JESUS to take her home. The world will forever be a little less light and magical. And my life has now and will be forever changed. I personally died a little today as she was my everything and I will never be the same."

Leigh had been fighting Stage 4 liver cancer since September 2016, and a GoFundMe page had been set up in her name to assist with medical expenses.

In contrast to the colorful Elvis film, Leigh worked in several Hammer Horror productions, including The Lost Continent (1968) as a passenger on an ill-fated voyage besieged by carnivorous seaweed, an octopus, a shark and pirates.

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Suzanna Leigh throughout her life
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Suzanna Leigh throughout her life
American singer and actor Elvis Presley surrounded by Korean actress Linda Wong, American Julie Parrish, British Suzanna Leigh, American Marianna Hill, American Donna Butterworth (little girl), and Chinese Irene Tsu, on the set of Paradise, Hawaiian Style directed by Canadian Michael D. Moore. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Full-length shot of Suzanna Leigh, British actress, viewed from behind looking over her shoulder, wearing a purple bikini in a studio portrait, against a background of clouds, circa 1965. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Actress Suzanna Leigh in her car, April 9th 1964. (Photo by Larry Ellis/Express/Getty Images)
English actress Suzanna Leigh, circa 1965. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
English actress Suzanna Leigh leaves London Airport for Hollywood, where she will star in the Paramount film 'Boeing Boeing', 21st April 1965. (Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Portrait of actresses Susannah York (right) and Suzanna Leigh at the premiere of the film 'Sands of the Kalahari' in Piccadilly Circus, London, December 2nd 1965. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1966: Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977) standing over a salad bowl full of girls in Hawaiian outfits and banana leaves with a fork and a spoon in a promotional picture for the film 'Paradise Hawaiian Style'. The blonde actress is Suzanna Leigh who plays Judy Hudson. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
English actress Suzanna Leigh at home, London, 1966. (Photo by Jeremy Fletcher/Getty Images)
English actress Suzanna Leigh at home, London, 1966. (Photo by Jeremy Fletcher/Getty Images)
English actress Suzanna Leigh at home, London, 1966. (Photo by Jeremy Fletcher/Getty Images)
English actress Suzanna Leigh decorates her flat in Belgravia, London, circa 1968. (Photo by Gary Weaser/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Suzanna Leigh at todays photo session with her poodle Natashia. February 1975 75-00778-004 (Photo by WATFORD/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Suzanna Leigh at todays photo session with her poodle Natashia. February 1975 75-00778-002 (Photo by WATFORD/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Suzanna Leigh attends Elvis hit making team 'The End'CD launch and George Barris book signing 'Barris Cars of the Stars' on September 22, 2009 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Dr. Billy Ingram/WireImage)
PARSIPPANY, NJ - OCTOBER 28: Suzanna Leigh attends 2016 Chiller Theatre Expo Day 1 at Parsippany Hilton on October 28, 2016 in Parsippany, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)

In 1971, she appeared in the R-rated Lust for a Vampire, a rushed sequel to director Roy Ward Baker's The Vampire Lovers. The title vampire was played by Danish actress Yutte Stensgaard. Leigh portrayed a gym teacher puzzled as to why her students kept disappearing.

Other performances were as a stewardess in Boeing Boeing (1965), a pop singer recovering from exhaustion on an island infested with killer insects in The Deadly Bees (1966) and a journalist in The Fiend (1972), and she was in the musical comedy Son of Dracula (1974) opposite Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr.

In Paradise, Hawaiian Style, Presley romances Judy Hudson, played by Leigh, and along the way sings nine new songs, including "Scratch My Back (Then I'll Scratch Yours)," "A Dog's Life" and "Queenie Wahine's Papaya." 

"Elvis and I were both under contract to Hal Wallis, who was known as the star maker," Leigh once recalled. "I remember the day that Hal said that I would be making my next movie with Elvis. I was an incredible fan of his, and then he said you'll be filming it in Hawaii. Wow. Elvis was a fabulous actor, very underrated by a lot of the conventional theater people."

Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

She was born Sandra Eileen Anne Smyth in Berkshire, England, in 1945. When she was 11, she took the surname of Leigh after her father told her that actress Vivien Leigh was her godmother. "She said she had known my father, though she had been to hundreds of christenings and didn't remember mine.

"It was about 15 years after she'd done Gone with the Wind, and she was stunning, beautiful and slender with dark hair. She said she didn't mind a bit if I used her name," she told The Independent in 1999.

She was the star of the 13-episode French TV series Trois étoiles en Touraine (1966). In later life, Leigh settled in Memphis, Tenn., organizing Elvis-themed events and charities.

In 2000, she published her memoir, Paradise, Suzanna Style.

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Celebrities who died in 2017

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