Yvonne de Carlo/Peggy Yvonne Middleton, RIP

Yvonne de Carlo, Vancouverite

Decades after ensuring her place in immortality by playing the captivating vampiress Lily Munster, Yvonne de Carlo, Great Vancouverite, Great Canadian, and even better Eccentric Hollywood Diva, has transcended life. No word on the stake/cross/garlic situation, but it can’t hurt to take any chances.

She would expect it of you, fandom!

…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 TV).

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.”

Lily Munster

“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.”

Among de Carlo‘s famed eccentricities were her love of cars (she bought, and frequently drove, the Munstermobile) , her distain for common discretion (in her autobiography she definitely did worse than kiss and tell; she fucked and published!), her hobby of phoning the police to make frivolous complaints just to pass the time (famously, “Mexicans are hanging from my trees!“), and the fact that she is the only Hollywood leading lady to have a trailer park named after her. None of it really surprising, considering the way she came into the world.

On September 1, 1922 Mrs. Marie De Carlo Middleton, minutes away from giving birth, was at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver being attended to by two nurses because the doctor hadn’t arrived yet. The nurses said later that, as Mrs. Middleton was being shifted onto the delivery table, she was shouting, “I want a girl. It must be a girl. I want a dancer!

She got her wish and more. Her daughter, Margaret Yvonne Middleton—later to become Yvonne De Carlo—would become not just a dancer, but a singer, an actress and—in 1945—was named The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.

But her most marked characteristic, late in life, was her habit of phoning reporters to correct them when they had (as they frequently had) reported her to be dead. Apparently, it was quite common for her to have to phone the papers two or three times a month, as she was both diligent in keeping up her reputation as a living legend and a woman who could afford the services of a good clippings bureau. To Spy magazine, she noted that not only was she not dead, but that there really had been Mexicans in her trees, now that you mention it.

Taking the already surreal and turning the weirdness up a notch, today Defamer, the premier gossip website of professional Hollywood (The Industry, if you will) has reported the death of Miss de Carlo. Miss de Carlo is dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of her burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Wikipedia signed it.

Miss de Carlo is as dead as a door-nail.

The trouble is, she has been as dead as a door-nail, or coffin nail if you prefer, for 2 days and counting. As far as we know, she could be on her fifth victim!

Have I told you that this is what ALL Vancouverites look like first thing in the morning?

16 thoughts on “Yvonne de Carlo/Peggy Yvonne Middleton, RIP

  1. This was way funnier when my low-blood-sugar brain thought 2007 was last year.

    Still, it must be said that Yvonne rocked, and time travel might well be the least of her talents.

  2. She was great as Lily Munster! Oddly, I do recall thinking of her as being more “motherly”- she was Eddie Munster’s mother for cryin out loud! – than any kind of a sex bomb. Of course my heart may have really belonged to Barbara Eden or Barbara Feldon or a plethora of tv starlets not named Barbara back in those early heady days of rapidly evolving pubescence….


  3. Well, there were a lot of hot Barbaras back then. Wasn’t the woman who played Batgirl also called Barbara? She was the green alien in that Star Trek episode with Yul Brynner.

  4. Yvonne rocked. I remember coming home from school and watching her in the Munsters. fondly. Thanks for writing this great article about her. It contained lots of things I didn’t know before and am glad to know now.

  5. Yeah, she was a stone-cold babe long before she died. And, for reference, it was another Yvonne – Yvonne Craig, who played Batgirl in the tv show. Not to mention that she was built like a brick German-French border guardhouse . . . .

  6. Yvonne Craig. So it was. But why do you say she was built like that particular kind of guardhouse, as opposed to, say, the cast concrete block East German/Polish border guardhouse?

  7. Batgirl was played by Yvonne Craig but her character’s name was Barbara. She was Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Gordon.

  8. I was sad when Yvonne died. She was a wonderful woman, I loved to watch The Munster and I love see her because she is beautiful.

  9. I met and knew Yvonne DeCarlo, during her stay at the Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills, CA. At the time, my mother, Lorraine Stevens was a resident there with her. Yvonne was one of the sweetest, most considerate woman I’ve ever met. As she traveled the halls of F-Wing, she maintained an air of grace and beauty in her wake.

    Yvonne, It was an honor to bring you popcorn, and listen to your stories each time I saw your. To her son Bruce. It was a pleasure meeting you, and I know our mothers are in a better place. My prayers are with you. Gary Stevens

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