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Actress Yvonne De Carlo Dies at 84

Actress Yvonne De Carlo Dies at 84
Actress Yvonne De Carlo, who played two very famous but disparate wives -- to Charlton Heston in movie epic The Ten Commandments and Fred Gwynne in the horror-spoof sitcom The Munsters -- died Monday in Los Angeles of natural causes; she was 84. Born Margaret Yvonne Middleton in Vancouver, Canada, the actress first traveled to Hollywood with her mother at the age of 15, but returned to Canada after finding little success, even though she was named "Miss Venice Beach" in 1938. Upon her return in 1940 at age 18, she found minor success with chorus girl roles and uncredited bit parts, finally securing her first notable role as Princess Wah-Tah in the western The Deerslayer. As a starlet for Universal, she toiled in numerous unmemorable roles before scoring the lead in the box office success Salome Where She Danced (1945), which led to starring roles in movies such as Slave Girl, Casbah, and River Lady. She played a femme fatale alongside Burt Lancaster in the noir classic Criss Cross, the Princess Scheherazade in The Desert Hawk, and the lead opposite a young Rock Hudson in Scarlet Angel. Her two most famous film roles came in the late '50s, when she played wife Sephora to Charlton Heston's Moses in The Ten Commandments, and the female lead opposite Clark Gable in Raoul Walsh's Band of Angels (which also featured the young Sidney Poitier).

By the early '60s, De Carlo was appearing steadily in a number of television series, and in 1964 she was tapped for the role of Lily Munster in the sitcom The Munsters. A show that parodied both horror films and squeaky-clean family sitcoms, where the titular family of monstrous misfits interacted with the regular world at large, it aired on CBS from 1964-66 and became a cultural phenomenon upon going into reruns. Spoofing the Bride of Frankenstein, De Carlo showed off a comic flair that was often missing from her film roles, and though the show lasted for only 70 episodes, Lily Munster became De Carlo's most famous part. (The Munsters debuted in the same year as the similarly-themed The Addams Family, and both were canceled two years later.) Most of De Carlo's film and TV appearances for the rest of her career were in horror movies (or spoofs) or in episodic television, and her last role was in the 1995 TV movie The Barefoot Executive. On Broadway, however, she created the role of Carlotta Campion in Stephen Sondheim's 1972 musical Follies, where she sang the show's signature number, "I'm Still Here," and also published her autobiography in 1987. De Carlo was married to stutman Bob Morgan, whom she divorced in 1968 and with whom she had two sons. --Mark Englehart, IMDb staff

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