The Wild Women (and men) of wongo

Iris Rautenberg

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Iris 2

Helene Iris Rautenberg was born October 7, 1934 to Herman and Anna Rautenberg. and she was raised in New York City on East 15th St. along with her sister Carol. Iris was cast as one of the women of Goona likely because she had some experience locally in radio and television. While attending the University of Miami she was a member of the Radio Guild in 1953 and 1954 and she was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Rho Radio and Television fraternity there. Ross Skipper, who later appeared on the classic vampire soap opera DARK SHADOWS was also a member at that time. Iris acted in several radio and television broadcasts produced by the school and in fact The Radio Guild held their own version of the Academy Awards each year, and Iris was nominated for her performance in the school produced televised broadcast of THE LITTLEST CHRISTMAS TREE 1953.

Iris Rautenberg 4

Iris (front row, second from the left) with University of Miami Radio and Television Guild members

In 1961 she was working at radio station MCKR as an actress. One of the radio plays she performed in was part of a program called THEATRE X which also featured fellow Wongo actress Lillian Malek. The play was titled CARLITA and was about a young man who one day walks a young woman home. When he calls on her the next day he finds that she has been dead for five years. Alan Douglas also starred. It aired on Sunday, January 15, 1961.


iris and lillian

Iris and Lillian Malek as two of the Goona women in WILD WOMEN OF WONGO. Iris and Lillian would late work in radio together in Miami.

alpha Epsilon Rho photo

University of Miami’s Alpha Epsilon Rho members in 1954. Iris is the lone female in he back row. The tall young man on her left is Ross Skipper, later of DARK SHADOWS fame.

Iris married a William E. Benway in Dade, Florida on July 1966 and divorced in May of 1967 and her life after that is a mystery, though it appears she had been living in Tampa, Florida before she passed away in November of 1977 in New York City.

Author: Mike Barnum

I am a lifelong lover of films, with a taste for movies of all genres, new and old, as well as pop culture from around the world. I currently write for the U.S. based film magazines CLASSIC IMAGES and FILMS OF THE GOLDEN AGE and have also been published in FILMFAX, SCARLET STREET, and VIDEO WATCHDOG.

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