Home / Yvonne De Carlo Was More Than Just Lily Munster

Yvonne De Carlo Was More Than Just Lily Munster

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We recently lost a glamorous and sultry beauty queen named Yvonne De Carlo.

At the age of 15, Little Margaret Yvonne Middleton had a few false starts in Hollywood in 1937, so she decided to rethink her options and moved back to Canada with her mother. After she took more acting, voice, and dance lessons she returned in 1940 as a blossoming buxom bathing beauty and got bit parts here and there as cinematic eye candy, as a chorus girl and as a nightclub singer. In the process, Yvonne quickly became even better known as a sexy World War II pin up girl.

It’s said that famous big-band leader Artie Shaw saw her sing at the Florentine Garden club in Hollywood, fell head over heals for her and gave her money for living expenses so she could start a career in acting.

After a few B-movies, in 1945 she starred in Salome, Where She Danced in which she played a spy gone undercover as an exotic dancer. The press hated the film but moviegoers loved it — and her. For the next few years she earned a following of loyal fans that went to see her movies. Most would assert they didn’t care how bad the plot was; they were there to see her.

More starring roles followed through the 1940s and '50s. As her career progressed, she showed everyone she wasn’t just another pretty face and proved she could excel in roles in everything from cowboy westerns to high production musicals. She established her career repeatedly in everything from singing opera — Die Fledermaus to Follies on Broadway, for which Stephen Sondheim wrote “I’m Still Here” for her.

In all she was featured in around 100 films where she played (and held her own) opposite such superstars as John Wayne, Clark Gable, Alec Guinness and Burt Lancaster. Along the way she even romanced the likes of Howard Hughes.

No one really took her seriously as a dramatic actress until Cecil B. DeMille was so impressed that he cast her as Moses' wife Sephora in the epic The Ten Commandments (for which she only earned $25,000).

With the advent of television she began getting roles on Bonanza and The Virginian which gave her an even larger audience and fan base that the movies ever did.

She married noted and notorious stuntman Bob Morgan, who later almost died during the filming of How the West Was Won in 1962. He lost a leg and the sight in one eye after accidentally falling from a train, and Yvonne temporarily quit acting to nurse her husband back to health. During this period she returned to feature films only briefly; most notably as John Wayne’s feisty maid in 1963’s McLintock! where she had to try to comically manhandle the Duke up a flight of stairs while they were both drunk.

De Carlo had always been a great horror film fan and would gleefully treat her son Michael to trips to attend them whenever she could. In 1964, on a lark she read for and won the TV role of her career as Lily Munster. Lily would become her signature role for millions of kids and adults alike. She later told friends she’d only taken the role to pay her husband’s hospital bills.

At the time, Al Lewis (Grandpa) remembered her as a pin-up girl and glamorous movie star and there was a lot of trepidation that she’d show up with an attitude on the set making all sorts of demands. To their delight she was one of the easiest actors they’d ever worked with and laughter filled the studio every day. She had a ball playing the sensible/albeit vampirish wife opposite hilarious and bumbling Fred Gwynne’s Herman Munster between 1964 and 1966. So memorable was her role that millions of fans swear it was longer than that.

She proved how much fun she could be by custom ordering a Jaguar as her personal car. It was fitted out with coffin rails on the top, spider webs on the hubcaps, and Dracula’s crest on the doors.

After the show was canceled, they were brought back twice for two Munster movies. She continued appearing in feature films into the '70s and '80s.

She died in January 2007 at the age of 84. Yvonne has earned two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — one for her film work and the other for her television role.

I’d name my favorite Munster episodes… but they’re all my favorites.

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About Jet Gardner

I like collecting books, music, movies, chess sets and friends
  • I think I liked the hot-rod episodes the best.

  • I didn’t even know she died. As a horny little pre-teen, I always thought she was way sexier than Carolyn Jones’ Morticia Addams. Hell I even thought she was sexier than the supposedly “normal” looking Munster (what was her name? Marilyn was it?).

    Gotta admit I mainly tuned in for ol’ Grandpa though. That old coot really cracked me up.

    Thanx for the obit Jet. She will be missed.


  • I had some of her in a harem outfit in her 20s but there wasn’t room. There’s one of her topless if you do a google image search.


  • Glen, here’s a link to the photo of Yvonne as a topless WWII pin up girl. Click here

    it’s at the very bottom of the page

  • First time seeing some of those photos. God, what a gorgeous woman! Catherine Zeta-Jones looks surprisingly like her.

  • I was amazed at just how sexy she was too.
    Thanks Mike

  • Leslie Bohn

    Yvonne was also memorable as the vampy older Bad Girl in Elvis’ finest movie, King Creole.

    She had such a varied career, from nightclub dancer to opera singer, from the Munsters to Sondheim. Memorable.

  • Heh heh-from Elvis movies to Opera to the Munsters. Under versatile in the dictionary they should have her photo right Leslie?

  • Actually it was Carolyn Jones (Morticia Adams) who was in King Creole with Elvis (blessed be He).

  • Leslie Bohn


  • Oh?….. well……… that explains everything!

  • From IMBD
    Yvonne’s movie and TV appearances include from last to first…

    The Barefoot Executive (1995) (TV) …. Norma
    Here Come the Munsters (1995) (TV) …. Cameo appearance
    “Tales from the Crypt” …. Mrs. Jones (1 episode, 1993)
    … aka HBO’s Tales from the Crypt
    – Death of Some Salesmen (1993) TV Episode …. Mrs. Jones
    Seasons of the Heart (1993) (voice) …. Older Martha
    The Naked Truth (1992) …. Mrs. Hess
    Desert Kickboxer (1992)
    … aka Desert Hawk (USA: alternative title)
    “Dream On” …. Francesca Goldman (1 episode, 1991)
    – The Second Greatest Story Ever Told (1991) TV Episode …. Francesca Goldman
    Oscar (1991) …. Aunt Rosa
    “The Black Stallion” (1 episode, 1990)
    … aka Étalon noir, L’ (France)
    … aka The Adventures of the Black Stallion
    … aka The New Adventures of the Black Stallion (USA: new title)
    – Star Quality (1990) TV Episode
    Mirror, Mirror (1990) …. Emelin

    Cellar Dweller (1988) …. Mrs. Briggs
    American Gothic (1988) …. Ma
    … aka Hide and Shriek
    Play Dead (1986) …. Hester
    … aka Killer Dog (International: English title: video title)
    … aka Satan’s Dog
    A Masterpiece of Murder (1986) (TV) …. Mrs. Murphy
    “Murder, She Wrote” …. Miss Springer (1 episode, 1985)
    – Jessica Behind Bars (1985) TV Episode …. Miss Springer
    Flesh and Bullets (1985)
    … aka The Wife Contract (Europe: English title)
    Vultures (1983) …. Rose
    … aka Vultures in Paradise
    Class Reunion (1982)
    … aka National Lampoon’s Class Reunion
    Liar’s Moon (1982) …. Jeanene Dubois
    The Munsters’ Revenge (1981) (TV) (as Yvonne DeCarlo) …. Lily Munster
    The Man with Bogart’s Face (1980) …. Teresa Anastas
    … aka Sam Marlowe, Private Eye
    Silent Scream (1980) …. Mrs. Engels

    “Fantasy Island” …. Fifi Aprea / … (2 episodes, 1978-1979)
    – The Victim/The Mermaid (1979) TV Episode …. Madame Jeannot
    – Charlie’s Cherubs/Stalag 3 (1978) TV Episode …. Fifi Aprea
    Guyana: Crime of the Century (1979) …. Susan Ames
    … aka Guyana, el crimen del siglo (Mexico: dubbed version)
    … aka Guyana: Cult of the Damned (USA)
    Fuego negro (1979) …. Catherine Jones
    … aka Black Fire
    Nocturna (1979) …. Jugula
    … aka Granddaughter of Dracula
    Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977) …. Emmy/Sheriff’s Wife/High Priestess
    “Roots” (1977) (mini) TV Series …. Slave Owner’s Wife
    Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) …. Cleaning woman
    … aka Won Ton Ton (USA: poster title)
    Casa de las sombras, La (1976)
    … aka House of Shadows
    It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (1975) …. Julia
    … aka Good Idea
    Blazing Stewardesses (1975) …. Honey
    … aka Cathouse Callgirls (USA: video title)
    … aka Cathouse Cowgirls (USA: reissue title)
    … aka Texas Layover
    … aka The Great Truck Robbery
    … aka The Jet Set (USA)
    … aka Up Like a Shot
    Black Fire (1975)
    The Mark of Zorro (1974) (TV) (as Yvonne DeCarlo) …. Isabella Vega
    The Girl on the Late, Late Show (1974) (TV) …. Lorraine
    The Seven Minutes (1971) …. Constance Cumberland
    The Delta Factor (1970) …. Valerie
    “The Name of the Game” …. Mrs. Levene (1 episode, 1970)
    – Island of Gold and Precious Stones (1970) TV Episode …. Mrs. Levene

    “The Virginian” …. Helen Haldeman aka Elena / … (2 episodes, 1963-1969)
    … aka The Men from Shiloh (USA: new title)
    – Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs (1969) TV Episode …. Imogene Delphinia
    – A Time Remembered (1963) TV Episode …. Helen Haldeman aka Elena
    Arizona Bushwhackers (1968) …. Jill Wyler
    The Power (1968) …. Mrs. Sally Hallson
    “Custer” …. Vanessa Ravenhill (1 episode, 1967)
    … aka The Legend of Custer (USA: theatrical title)
    – The Raiders (1967) TV Episode …. Vanessa Ravenhill
    Hostile Guns (1967) …. Laura Mannon
    “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.” …. Nadia Marcolescu (1 episode, 1967)
    – The Moulin Ruse Affair (1967) TV Episode …. Nadia Marcolescu
    Munster, Go Home (1966) …. Lily Munster
    “The Munsters” …. Lily Munster (71 episodes, 1964-1966)
    – A Visit from the Teacher (1966) TV Episode …. Lily Munster
    – Herman’s Lawsuit (1966) TV Episode …. Lily Munster
    – Herman’s Sorority Caper (1966) TV Episode …. Lily Munster
    – A House Divided (1966) TV Episode …. Lily Munster
    – Herman, the Tire Kicker (1966) TV Episode …. Lily Munster
    (66 more)
    “The Greatest Show on Earth” …. Magda Kolday (1 episode, 1964)
    – The Night the Monkey Died (1964) TV Episode …. Magda Kolday
    Law of the Lawless (1964) …. Ellie Irish
    … aka Invitation to a Hanging
    A Global Affair (1964) …. Dolores
    “Burke’s Law” …. Countess Barbara Erozzi (1 episode, 1963)
    … aka Amos Burke, Secret Agent (USA: new title)
    – Who Killed Beau Sparrow? (1963) TV Episode …. Countess Barbara Erozzi
    McLintock! (1963) …. Mrs. Louise Warren
    “Pantomime Quiz” …. Guest Panelist (1 episode, 1962)
    … aka Mike Stokey’s Pantomime Quiz (USA)
    … aka Stump the Stars (USA: new title)
    – Yvonne DeCarlo vs. Art Linkletter (1962) TV Episode …. Guest Panelist
    “Follow the Sun” …. Anne Beeler / … (2 episodes, 1961-1962)
    – Annie Beeler’s Place (1962) TV Episode …. Annie Beeler
    – The Longest Crap Game in History (1961) TV Episode …. Anne Beeler
    “Death Valley Days” …. Dr. Clare Reed (1 episode, 1961)
    … aka Call of the West (USA: syndication title)
    … aka The Pioneers (USA: syndication title)
    … aka Trails West (USA: syndication title)
    … aka Western Star Theater (USA: syndication title)
    – The Lady Was an M.D. (1961) TV Episode …. Dr. Clare Reed
    “Adventures in Paradise” …. Lianne Zagreb (1 episode, 1960)
    – Isle of Eden (1960) TV Episode …. Lianne Zagreb

    “Bonanza” …. Lotta Crabtree (1 episode, 1959)
    … aka Ponderosa (USA: rerun title)
    – A Rose for Lotta (1959) TV Episode …. Lotta Crabtree
    Timbuktu (1959) …. Natalie Dufort
    “Playhouse 90” …. Marina Arkwright (1 episode, 1958)
    – Verdict of Three (1958) TV Episode …. Marina Arkwright
    Spada e la croce, La (1958) …. Mary Magdalene
    … aka Mary Magdalene
    … aka The Sword and the Cross
    Band of Angels (1957) …. Amantha Starr
    “Schlitz Playhouse of Stars” (1 episode, 1957)
    … aka Herald Playhouse (USA: syndication title)
    … aka Schlitz Playhouse (USA: new title)
    … aka The Playhouse (USA: syndication title)
    – Storm Over Rapallo (1957) TV Episode
    “Shower of Stars” (1 episode, 1957)
    … aka Chrysler Shower of Stars
    – Skits & Sketches (1957) TV Episode
    Death of a Scoundrel (1956) …. Bridget Kelly
    … aka Diary of a Scoundrel
    … aka Loves of a Scoundrel
    … aka The Loves and Death of a Scoundrel
    The Ten Commandments (1956) …. Sephora
    Raw Edge (1956) …. Hannah Montgomery
    Flame of the Islands (1956) …. Rosalind Dee
    “Screen Directors Playhouse” …. Pearl (1 episode, 1956)
    – Hot Cargo (1956) TV Episode …. Pearl
    Magic Fire (1955) …. Minna Planer
    … aka Frauen um Richard Wagner
    Contessa di Castiglione, La (1955) …. Virginia Oldoini
    … aka Castiglione, La (France)
    … aka The Contessa’s Secret (USA)
    Shotgun (1955) …. Abby
    Passion (1954) …. Rosa Melo/Tonya Melo
    Happy Ever After (1954) …. Serena McGluskey
    … aka Tonight’s the Night (USA)
    Border River (1954) …. Carmelita Carjas
    The Backbone of America (1953) (TV)
    Fort Algiers (1953) …. Yvette
    The Captain’s Paradise (1953) …. Nita St. James
    … aka Paradise
    … aka The Captain’s Progress
    Sea Devils (1953) …. Droucette
    Sombrero (1953) …. Maria
    “The Ford Television Theatre” (1 episode, 1953)
    … aka Ford Theatre (USA: short title)
    – Madame 44 (1953) TV Episode
    Hurricane Smith (1952) …. Luana
    Scarlet Angel (1952) …. Roxy McClanahan
    The San Francisco Story (1952) …. Adelaide McCall
    “Lights Out” (1 episode, 1952)
    – Another Country (1952) TV Episode
    Silver City (1951) …. Candace Surrency
    … aka High Vermilion (UK)
    Hotel Sahara (1951) …. Yasmin Pallas
    Tomahawk (1951) …. Julie Madden
    … aka Battle of Powder River (UK)
    The Desert Hawk (1950) …. Princess Scheherazade
    Buccaneer’s Girl (1950) …. Deborah “Debbie’ McCoy

    The Gal Who Took the West (1949) …. Linda Marlowe
    Calamity Jane and Sam Bass (1949) …. Calamity Jane
    Criss Cross (1949) …. Anna Dundee
    River Lady (1948) …. Sequin
    Casbah (1948) …. Inez
    Black Bart (1948) …. Lola Montez
    … aka Black Bart, Highwayman (UK)
    Slave Girl (1947) …. Francesca
    Brute Force (1947) …. Gina Ferrara
    Song of Scheherazade (1947) …. Cara de Talavera
    Frontier Gal (1945) …. Lorena Dumont
    … aka The Bride Wasn’t Willing (UK)
    Salome Where She Danced (1945) …. Anna Marie
    Bring on the Girls (1945) (uncredited) …. Hat check girl
    Practically Yours (1944) (uncredited) …. Office Clerk
    Here Come the Waves (1944) (uncredited) …. Girl
    Rainbow Island (1944) (uncredited) …. Lona’s companion
    Kismet (1944) (uncredited) …. Handmaiden
    … aka Oriental Dream (USA: TV title)
    Fun Time (1944) …. Phyllis
    … aka Musical Parade: Fun Time (USA: series title)
    The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944) (uncredited) …. Native Girl
    Standing Room Only (1944) (uncredited) …. Secretary
    True to Life (1943) (uncredited) …. Bit Role
    The Deerslayer (1943) …. Princess Wah-Tah
    Let’s Face It (1943) (uncredited) …. Chorus Girl
    For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) (uncredited) …. Girl in cafe
    So Proudly We Hail! (1943) (uncredited) …. Girl
    Salute for Three (1943) (uncredited) …. Girl in Singing Quartette
    The Crystal Ball (1943) (uncredited) …. Secretary
    Rhythm Parade (1942) (uncredited) …. Showgirl
    Lucky Jordan (1942) (uncredited) …. Girl
    Road to Morocco (1942) (uncredited) …. Handmaiden
    Youth on Parade (1942) (uncredited) …. Student
    This Gun for Hire (1942) (uncredited) …. Showgirl at Neptune Club
    The Kink of the Campus (1941) …. Kitty O’Hara
    Harvard, Here I Come! (1941) (uncredited) …. Bathing Girl
    … aka Here I Come (UK)
    I Look at You (1941)

  • All right, now I’m puzzled. When I posted UFO photos I was accused of trying to turn everyone gay (Huh?) Now I’ve posted a link showing Yvonne toppless, why hasn’t anyone accused me of trying to turn everyone straight?

  • Forgive these, I’m trying to train my new e-mail address not to mark e-notices from here as spam…

  • Attention: I’d like to invite everyone to look at the right side menu. That button marked BC Forums….

  • Bert

    It was nice that the Emmy Awards remembered Yvonne after the Oscar fiasco. Seeing her reminded me of how much I miss her…..

  • Thanks Bert,
    While Lily Munster was her signature role in her latter career, she was the prototype “Screen siren” for a whole generation.


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    Nice to see your name again around here! I hope things are going better for you. Is the spy in your novel going to have a cover as a pizza delivery guy?