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.”
“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!