TMZ is reporting that Denise Matthews, known as ‘Vanity’ of the 1980s pop group Vanity 6 has died. A protégé and former girlfriend of legendary musician Prince, the Canadian born model/singer/actress exploded onto the pop cultural scene as a member of Vanity 6 with their international hit ‘Nasty Girl.’
The group toured with Prince until his 1999 tour and reportedly broke up after Prince and Vanity parted ways before filming Purple Rain.
Vanity’s role in the group and cult film classic was re-cast with singer Patricia ‘Apollonia’ Kotero and the remaining two original members of the group (Susan Moonsie and Brenda Bennett). The group performed under the moniker Apollonia 6.
After her split from the group in 1983, Matthews went on to star in a number of B-movies that would eventually become fan favorites — Motown’s The Last Dragon (1985), co-starring 1980s heartthrob Taimak and Action Jackson (1988), co-starring 1980s star Carl Weathers of Rocky fame. The actress also starred in 52-Pickup, a 1986 crime thriller based on Elmore Leonard’s novel of the same name. Directed by legendary director John Frankenheimer, the film co-starred screen legends Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret.
Matthews continued as a solo artist signing with Motown and releasing two albums in 1985 and 1986, Wild Animal and Skin on Skin which produced the hit songs “Pretty Mess”, “Mechanical Emotion”, and “Under the Influence.”
In 1986, Matthews was also involved in a high profile romance and engagement to legendary rocker Nikki Six of Mötley Crüe. The engagement eventually ended with Matthews becoming a born-again Christian and rejecting Hollywood.
In recent years, Matthews has been in the media more for health problems, battling kidney failure — largely the result of drug abuse during her time as a celebrity.
Matthews was 57 and is survived by her sister Patricia.
This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.