Laya Raki: born Brunhilde Marie Alma Herta Jörns, 27 July 1927; died 11 December 2018. On screen 1950 – 1966. Obituary after the jump.
Laya Raki Randell-Wood passed away peacefully in the evening of December 21, 2018, in Hollywood, California.
She was born Brunhilde Marie Jorns in Hamburg, Germany on July 27, 1927. Her mother left when Laya was only five years old. Her father remarried soon thereafter. He worked with the circus, where Laya learned acrobatics at a very young age, and performed in several circus acts. In her late teens, she partnered with fellow acrobat, Ricardo U. Partnerin, performing a 2-person dance/acrobatic act.
From there, she learned ballet and other forms of dance. She developed a passion for dance, and was best known for her exotic dances. She performed throughout NW Europe and Italy in the 1940’s to 1950. She adopted the screen name, ‘Laya Raki’, at the suggestion of her manager. In 1954, she got a major part in the movie, ‘The Seekers’, (released in the U.S. as, ‘Land of Fury’), as the exotic Moari dancer, longside actor Jack Hawkins. It was shot in New Zealand, and was a big hit, bringing Laya into the spotlight.
In 1955 Laya went to London to continue her acting career. Her roles in British films and TV productions made her an international star. She gained fame and recognition for her role in the popular British TV series, ‘Crane’. In order to appear more exotic to her viewing public, she invented a story that her mother was of Indonesian/French descent. While working in London, she met a handsome Australian actor, Ron Randell. It was love at first sight. They married in September, 1957 in London. Ron was doing films in both Australia and the United States. They decided to move to the U.S. in the 1960’s, working between New York City and Los Angeles. Laya appeared in the popular TV series, ‘I Spy’, and other shows over the years in Los Angeles.
Ron, died from Alzheimer’s related problems in June of 2005. In April of 2009, Laya married Duane Wood, retired Vice President of Lockheed Aircraft International. Laya is preceded in death by her father, Wilhelm Jorns in 1963, and her brother Alvin, her first husband, Ron Randell, and second husband Duane Wood in July of 2018. She is survived by her step-daughter, Cathy, and her step-grandchildren, Tyler and Shannon.
She will be laid to rest beside her first husband, Ronald Randell, at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park.