Carlo, 'Munsters' star, dead
POSTED: 3:40 p.m. EST, January
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Yvonne De Carlo,
the beautiful star who played Moses' wife in "The Ten Commandments" but achieved
her greatest popularity on TV's "The Munsters," has died. She was 84.
De Carlo, dressed for her role as Lily Munster in the film "Munster,
Go Home," poses in her car in the parking lot outside Universal
Studios on March 25, 1966. De Carlo, the beautiful star who
played Moses' wife in "The Ten Commandments" but achieved her
greatest popularity on TV's slapstick comedy "The Munsters," died
Monday, Jan. 8,2007, in suburban Los Angeles. She was 84. (AP
De Carlo died of natural
causes Monday at the Motion Picture & Television facility in suburban
Los Angeles, longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns said Wednesday.
De Carlo, whose shapely figure
helped launch her career in B-movie desert adventures and Westerns, rose
to more important roles in the 1950s. Later, she had a key role in a landmark
Broadway musical, Stephen Sondheim's "Follies."
But for TV viewers, she will
always be known as Lily Munster in the 1964-1966 slapstick horror-movie
spoof "The Munsters." The series (the name allegedly derived from "fun-monsters")
offered a gallery of Universal Pictures grotesques, including Dracula and
Frankenstein's monster, in a cobwebbed gothic setting.
Lily, vampire-like in a black
gown, presided over the faux scary household and was a rock for her gentle
but often bumbling husband, Herman, played by 6-foot-5-inch character actor
Fred Gwynne (decked out as the Frankenstein monster).
While it lasted only two
years, the series had a long life in syndication and resulted in two feature
movies, "Munster Go Home!" (1966) and "The Munsters' Revenge" (1981, for
At the series' end, De Carlo
commented: "It meant security. It gave me a new, young audience I wouldn't
have had otherwise. It made me 'hot' again, which I wasn't for a while."
"I think she will best remembered
as the definitive Lily Munster. She was the vampire mom to millions of
baby boomers. In that sense, she's iconic," Burns said Wednesday.
"But it would be a shame
if that's the only way she is remembered. She was also one of the biggest
beauty queens of the '40s and '50s, one of the most beautiful women in
the world. This was one of the great glamour queens of Hollywood, one of
the last ones."
De Carlo was able to sustain
a long career by repeatedly reinventing herself. A longtime student of
voice, she sang opera at the Hollywood Bowl. When movie roles became scarce,
she ventured into stage musicals.
Her greatest stage triumph
came on Broadway in 1971 with "Follies," which won the 1972 Tony award
for best original musical score. She belted out Sondheim's showstopping
number, "I'm Still Here," a former star's defiant recounting of the highs
and lows of her life and career.
De Carlo and Jimmy Stewart are shown between scenes while working
on separate movies in the same studio in Los Angeles on July 19, 1948.
Over the years, De Carlo
augmented her stardom by shrewd use of publicity. Gossip columnists reported
her dates with famous men. In her 1987 book, "Yvonne: An Autobiography," she
listed 22 of her lovers, who included Howard Hughes, Burt Lancaster, Robert
Stack, Robert Taylor, Billy Wilder, Aly Khan and an Iranian prince.
The Canadian-born De Carlo
began her career with a parade of bit parts in films of the early 1940s,
then emerged as a star in 1945 with "Salome -- Where She Danced," a routine
movie about a dancer from Vienna who becomes a spy in the wild West.
She recalled her entrance
in the film: "I came through these beaded curtains, wearing a Japanese
kimono and a Japanese headpiece, and then performed a Siamese dance. Nobody
seemed to know quite why."
Universal Pictures exploited
her slightly exotic looks and a shape that looked ideal in a harem dress
in such "sex-and-sand" programmers as "Song of Scheherazade," "Slave Girl," "Casbah" and "Desert
The studio also employed
her to add zest to Westerns, usually as a dance-hall girl or a gun-toting
sharpshooter. Among the titles: "Frontier Gal," "Black Bart" (as Lola Montez), "River
Lady," "Calamity Jane and Sam Bass" (as Calamity Jane) and "The Gal Who
Took the West."
In 1956 she veered from her
former image when Cecil B. DeMille chose her to play Sephora, wife to Charlton
Heston's Moses in "The Ten Commandments." The following year she co-starred
with Clark Gable and Sidney Poitier in "Band of Angels" as Gable's upper-class
sweetheart who learns of her black forebears.
Among her later films: "McClintock" (starring
John Wayne), "A Global Affair" (Bob Hope), "Hostile Guns" (George Montgomery), "The
Power" (George Hamilton), "American Gothic" (Rod Steiger) and "Oscar" (Sylvester
De Carlo was born Peggy Yvonne
Middleton in Vancouver, British Columbia, on September 1, 1922 (some sources
say 1924). Abandoned by her father, she was raised by her mother in poor
circumstances. The girl took dancing lessons and dropped out of high school
to work in night clubs and local theaters. She continued dancing in clubs
when she and her mother moved to Los Angeles.
Paramount Pictures signed
her to a contract in 1942, and she adopted her middle name and her mother's
middle name. Dropped by Paramount after 20 minor roles, she landed at Universal,
which cast her as the B-picture version of the studio's sultry star Maria
In 1955, De Carlo married
Bob Morgan, a topflight stunt man, and the marriage produced two sons,
Bruce and Michael, as well as much-publicized separations and reconciliations.
During a stunt aboard a moving
log train for "How the West Was Won," Morgan was thrown underneath the
wheels. The accident cost him a leg, and for a time De Carlo abandoned
her career to care for him. They later divorced.
In her late years, De Carlo
lived in semiretirement near Solvang, north of Santa Barbara. Her son Michael
died in 1997, and she suffered a stroke the following year.
ANGELES - Actress Yvonne De Carlo, who starred in films opposite
Clark Gable and Charlton Heston but won enduring fame as wife of a Frankenstein
monster-like character in the TV series "The Munsters," has died at age
84, her son said on Wednesday.
Morgan said his mother, who played Moses' wife in Cecil B. De Mille's 1956
epic "The Ten Commandments," died of natural causes on Monday at the Motion
Picture & Television Fund's Retirement Home in the Los Angeles suburb
of Woodland Hills.
passed away in my arms on Monday," Morgan said, adding that she had been
in declining health for several years.
in Vancouver, De Carlo was raised in poverty and had to drop out of high
school to work. But she won a beauty contest and used that as an entree
to bit parts in movies, starting in the 1940s.
had bit parts in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (1943) and "The Road to Morocco" (1941).
But in 1945, she won a key role in "Salome, Where She Danced," about a
ballerina who lands in a small Arizona town.
signed De Carlo, it was said, because she resembled its major star, Dorothy
Lamour, and executives there wanted to warn Lamour that she could be replaced
if she gave the studio trouble.
Carlo appeared in such B-movie staples as "Frontier Gal," "Scarlet Angel" and "Shotgun," showing
off an hour-glass figure that won her many fans.
OF STAGE AND SCREEN
most of the films she made during that period were forgettable, she starred
as one of Alec Guinness's two wives in the British comedy classic "The
Captain's Paradise" and opposite Heston as Moses' wife in "The Ten Commandments." She
also appeared with Gable and Sidney Poitier in 1957's "Band of Angels."
dropped out of films in 1959 to raise a family, but returned to work in
television, where she became a cult favorite as the heavily made-up, ghoulish
Lily Munster on the popular sitcom "The Munsters."
1964 to 1966, she played opposite Fred Gwynne, who starred as her good-natured
but scary-looking spouse, Herman Munster, the head of an oddball family
who lived in a big, creepy house at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
made nearly 100 films in all, played on Broadway, most famously in Stephen
Sondheim's "Follies," and made guest appearances on such TV series as "Bonanza" and "The
a 1987 autobiography, she claimed to have had affairs with several of Hollywood's
leading figures, including Howard Hughes, Robert Taylor and Billy Wilder.
her death, she performed supporting roles in two independent movies that
have yet to be released, playing a psychic who channels UFOs in one and
an orphanage nun during World War Two in the other, Morgan said.
she's not done yet," he told Reuters.
last screen role seen before her death was as an eccentric apartment dweller
in the 1995 TV movie "The Barefoot Executive," said her longtime agent,
was quite a pistol," Stander said. "She aged gracefully, she was a beautiful