Strain was best-known as one of the go-to B-movie stars of the 1990s and 2000s, starring in dozens of B- and C-list action, comedy, and horror films.
Julie Strain, one of the greats of 1990s B-movies, passed away on January 10 due to complications from dementia. She was 58. Over the course of her career, she appeared in well over a hundred movies, including bit parts in Hollywood films like Double Impact, Out for Justice, Beverly Hills Cop III, The Independent, and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.
However, Strain was best-known as one of the go-to B-movie stars of the 1990s and 2000s, with parts in dozens of B- and C-list action, comedy, and horror films. She wasn't exactly a "scream queen," either; Strain had a distinctive screen presence, standing 6'1" (about 1.9 meters) tall, and was more frequently cast in action roles or as an antagonist. Any fan of '90s and '00s horror, the "direct to video" era, has seen Strain in something, even if they might not know exactly what or where.
Strain got her career started when she became the Penthouse Pet of the Year in 1993. That led to multiple film roles, frequently as arm candy (i.e. her appearance in the 1992 Christian Slater vehicle Kuffs) or as an exotic dancer. She also frequently worked as a model for fantasy painters such as Boris Vallejo, Luis Royo, Joe Jusko, Milo Manara, and Julie Bell.
Dave Gram has informed me that Julie Strain passed peacefully this morning, at 3:30 am, Sunday, January 10.— Olivia De Berardinis (@OliviaPinupArt) January 10, 2021
Dave was holding her hand.
Please respect the family’s privacy during this time.
Rest In Peace Julie, we love you.
At her peak, Strain made as many as seven films in a year, including raunchy spoofs like the inexplicably long Bare Wench Project series, and was frequently seen in late-night Cinemax fare like 1992's Night Rhythms. She was in several of the infamous Andy Sidaris's action movies, including The Dallas Connection, Enemy Gold, Day of the Warrior, and Fit to Kill.
Strain was married to Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and publisher of the hallmark comic magazine Heavy Metal, from 1995 to 2006. She was subsequently cast in the voice role of Julie, the protagonist of the animated science fiction film Heavy Metal 2000; the character, which went on to star in a video game sequel for Windows, was also visually based on Strain. Heavy Metal published Strain's autobiography, Six Foot One and Worth the Climb, in 1997, which primarily celebrated her modeling career up to that point.
Near the end of her life, it came out publicly that Strain had been badly injured in her twenties when she fell off a horse, suffering a case of retrograde amnesia that had removed most of her memories of her childhood. In late 2018, she began to suffer from dementia due to her brain injury and entered hospice care.
Reportedly, as per her frequent collaborator Olivia De Berardinis, her case progressed into early-onset Alzheimer's, which led to her passing on January 10. An earlier false report of her death from January 2020, almost exactly a year earlier, briefly confused the issue—the top Google result for her name, at time of writing, is a 2020 Deadline article saying she isn't dead after all—but many of Strain's collaborators have confirmed her death on social media.
Strain's final role in a completed film was a supporting part as Queen Ziba in the 2009 zero-budget comedy Space Girls from Beverly Hills. However, she also reportedly has a role in a 2019 independent horror film, Grass Hook Massacre, which doesn't seem to have been officially released yet, although a trailer exists.
Strain is survived by her son, Shane, and her long-time romantic partner Dave Gram.