Yvonne De Carlo


Actor
Yvonne De Carlo

About

Also Known As
Yvonne Decarlo, Peggy Yvonne Middleton
Birth Place
Point Gray, British Columbia, Canada
Born
September 01, 1922
Died
January 08, 2007
Cause of Death
Natural Causes

Biography

A vibrant, full-bodied performer with a rich voice and a lushly sensuous if somewhat odd beauty, Yvonne DeCarlo achieved stardom in the 1940s in some of the more bizarre escapism of that era. During her heyday and later in character roles, she acted in remarkably few films that could be called first-class or even important. Given how campy many of her credits are, it is fitting that DeCa...

Photos & Videos

Border River - Publicity Stills
Border River - Scene Stills
Border River - Movie Posters

Family & Companions

Robert Morgan
Husband
Stuntman, actor. Married on November 21, 1955; father of Bruce and Michael Morgan; lost a leg during the making of "How the West Was Won" (1963); divorced in the mid-1970s.

Biography

A vibrant, full-bodied performer with a rich voice and a lushly sensuous if somewhat odd beauty, Yvonne DeCarlo achieved stardom in the 1940s in some of the more bizarre escapism of that era. During her heyday and later in character roles, she acted in remarkably few films that could be called first-class or even important. Given how campy many of her credits are, it is fitting that DeCarlo is best known, because of TV syndication, as the sensible but ghoulish Lily Munster on the silly if often funny horror spoof sitcom, "The Munsters" (CBS, 1964-66). As with many female stars of the 50s (Susan Hayward, Eleanor Parker, Anne Baxter) put into routine melodrama, she could give overblown performances; yet likability and talent were there, genuine feeling mixed with a flair for comedy that wasn't properly tapped often enough. The result was a career that, in its own way, lasted, such that when a fiftyish DeCarlo impressively belted out the showstopping "I'm Still Here" in the wonderful Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical, "Follies" (1971), all the poor roles she was given or had chosen to do seemed irrelevant, because the woman had a point.

The Canadian DeCarlo, abandoned by her father, was raised by a poor but ambitious mother and never finished high school because she had to work. Moving to the U.S., DeCarlo won a beauty contest and eventually snagged a contract at Paramount in 1941. For several years she did extra work and played bits: she can be spotted in "The Road to Morocco" (1942) and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (1943), played a secretary in "The Crystal Ball" (1943) and a Native American princess on loan-out to Republic in "The Deerslayer" (1943). Paramount used her as a threat to Dorothy Lamour should their resident jungle princess refuse to put on a sarong yet again, but they eventually dropped her contract.

Universal, though, proved DeCarlo's savior, and she vaulted to stardom in the hit "Salome, Where She Danced" (1945), an outrageous tale of a Viennese ballerina who blasts into an Arizona desert town. Already specializing in tempestuous behavior, she followed up with one of her most enjoyable films from this era, "Frontier Gal" (1945), a deliberately comical Western in which she sparred with Rod Cameron. DeCarlo continued with the lesser likes of "Slave Girl" (1947), "River Lady" (1948) and "Buccaneer's Girl" (1950), two exceptions from this pabulum were the standout film noirs, "Brute Force" (1947), a prison drama helmed by Jules Dassin, and especially "Criss Cross" (1949) by Robert Siodmak. DeCarlo's femme fatales showed her potential, but when "The Desert Hawk" (1950) suggested a dip in popularity, Universal reduced her to a one film a year contract and evidently saw no need to develop her as an actress.

Free-lancing kept DeCarlo busy in the 50s, but "Scarlet Angel" (1952), "Fort Algiers" (1953) and "Shotgun" (1955) continued the parade of saloon singers, Polynesian maidens, fiery half-breeds, French spies, and Irish spitfires. "Passion" (1954) even sported two DeCarlos, with her cast as twins Rosa and Tonya Melo. An interesting exception was the British-made "The Captain's Paradise" (1953), though Alec Guinness had the spotlight as a bigamist with wives in two ports, DeCarlo played her comedy well and made a vivid contrast with the genteel Celia Johnson. Another oasis came, oddly enough, with Cecil B. DeMille's remake of "The Ten Commandments" (1956). While most of the all-star cast chewed the scenery to vastly entertaining effect, DeCarlo, sporting aptly severe makeup, shone in a restrained and touching performance as Moses' wife Sephora. Her followup, "Band of Angels" (1957), teaming DeCarlo with Clark Gable and Sidney Poitier in Raoul Walsh's odd "Gone with the Wind"-like tale of Civil War miscegenation, failed, and after 1959 DeCarlo left films to raise her sons by stuntman Bob Morgan.

A nightclub tour, in which DeCarlo poked fun at her old movies, and TV work followed, but it took her husband's loss of a leg in an accident for her to seek out more work. She played a funny drunk scene with John Wayne in a supporting role as a housekeeper in "McLintock" (1963) and alternated leading roles in minor actioners like "Hostile Guns" (1967) with featured roles in "The Power" (1968) and Russ Meyer's attempt to earnestly film the best-selling "Seven Minutes" (1971). Subsequent to her Broadway triumph in "Follies," she toured in "No, No Nanette," made TV-movies like "The Mark of Zorro" (1974), "The Munsters' Revenge" (1981) and "The Barefoot Executive" (1995), and appeared fairly regularly in a series of low-budget films, mostly horror fare, the more lurid the better. "Satan's Cheerleaders" (1977), "Play Dead" (1981) and "American Gothic" (1987) were typical, some played for laughs, some not. The Sylvester Stallone comedy "Oscar" (1991) was an atypical mainstream feature for DeCarlo at the time, but it bombed; a 1975 feature credit sums it and her career up well: "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time."

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Seasons of the Heart (1998)
Voice
The Barefoot Executive (1995)
Here Come the Munsters (1995)
Oscar (1991)
Mirror, Mirror (1990)
Cellar Dweller (1988)
American Gothic (1987)
A Masterpiece Of Murder (1986)
Play Dead (1986)
Flesh and Bullets (1985)
Liar's Moon (1982)
The Munster's Revenge (1981)
The Man with Bogart's Face (1980)
Silent Scream (1980)
Guyana: Cult of the Damned (1979)
Nocturna (1978)
Satan's Cheerleaders (1977)
Blazing Stewardesses (1975)
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (1975)
The Girl on the Late, Late Show (1974)
The Mark of Zorro (1974)
The Seven Minutes (1971)
Constance Cumberland
The Delta Factor (1970)
Valerie
Arizona Bushwhackers (1968)
Jill Wyler
The Power (1968)
Sally Hallson
Hostile Guns (1967)
Laura Manon
Munster, Go Home! (1966)
Lily
Law of the Lawless (1964)
Ellie Irish
A Global Affair (1964)
Dolores
McLintock! (1963)
Louise Warren
Timbuktu (1959)
Natalie Dufort
Band of Angels (1957)
Amantha "Manty" Starr
The Ten Commandments (1956)
Sephora
Death of a Scoundrel (1956)
Bridget Kelly
Raw Edge (1956)
Hannah Montgomery
Magic Fire (1956)
Minna Planer Wagner
Flame of the Islands (1956)
Rosalind Dee [also known as Linda Darcy]
Shotgun (1955)
Abby
Passion (1954)
Tonya Melo/Rosa Melo
Border River (1954)
Carmelita Carias
Tonight's the Night (1954)
Serena McGlusky
Sombrero (1953)
María
Fort Algiers (1953)
Yvette [Del Mar]
Sea Devils (1953)
Drouette, also known as Countess de Remuset
Captain's Paradise (1953)
Hurricane Smith (1952)
Luana Whitmore
Scarlet Angel (1952)
Roxy McClannahan
The San Francisco Story (1952)
Adelaide McCall
Silver City (1951)
Candace Surrency
Tomahawk (1951)
Julie Madden
Buccaneer's Girl (1950)
Deborah McCoy
The Desert Hawk (1950)
Princess Shaharazade
Criss Cross (1949)
Anna [Dundee]
The Gal Who Took the West (1949)
Lillian Marlowe
Calamity Jane and Sam Bass (1949)
Calamity Jane
Casbah (1948)
Inez [Tabac]
River Lady (1948)
Sequin
Black Bart (1948)
Lola Montez
Song of Scheherazade (1947)
Cara de Talavera, also known as Scheherazade
Brute Force (1947)
Gina
Slave Girl (1947)
Francesca
Frontier Gal (1945)
Lorena Dumont
Bring on the Girls (1945)
Hat check girl
Salome, Where She Danced (1945)
Salome, also known as Anna Maria
Rainbow Island (1944)
Lona's companion
Here Come the Waves (1944)
Standing Room Only (1944)
Secretary
Practically Yours (1944)
Employee
Let's Face It (1943)
Salute for Three (1943)
Quartette woman
So Proudly We Hail! (1943)
True to Life (1943)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)
Woman in café
Deerslayer (1943)
Wah-Tah
The Crystal Ball (1943)
Secretary
Lucky Jordan (1942)
Road to Morocco (1942)
Handmaiden
This Gun for Hire (1942)
Special dancer at Neptune Club
Harvard, Here I Come (1941)
Bathing girl

Music (Feature Film)

Fort Algiers (1953)
Composer

Cast (Special)

Death of Some Salesmen (1993)
Backbone of America (1953)
Victoria Johnson

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Naked Truth (1993)

Life Events

1929

Enrolled in a dancing school by her mother at age six (date approximate)

1933

Joined the St. Paul Anglican Church choir in order to develop a singing voice

1938

Helped support herself and her mother at age 15 when she got a job dancing as part of a chorus at the Palomar Supper Club

1940

DeCarlo and her mother refused an immigration visa to the US, but sneaked across the border and settled in Hollywood

1941

Won the title of Miss Venice Beach in a beauty contest; returned to Vancouver briefly in order to get legal visas for herself and her mother and then moved back to the Los Angeles area

1941

Signed by Paramount to a standard $60/week new player's contract

1942

Appeared in several short subjects produced by the Soundies Music Corporation

1942

Film acting debut, on loan-out to Columbia, "Harvard, Here I Come"; appeared mostly as an extra in a series of films at Paramount over the next two years

1943

First film to feature DeCarlo as more than an extra or in a bit part, "The Deerslayer", made while she was on loan to Republic Studios; played Wah-Tah, a Native American princess betrothed to Larry Parks

1945

Dropped by Paramount; last film there, "Bring on the Girls", in which she can be spotted in a small role as a hatcheck girl

1945

Signed by Universal; became a star in the leading role of the hit film, "Salome, Where She Danced"

1950

After failure of "The Desert Hawk" at the box office, Universal ended her exclusive contract and offered instead to star her in one film a year

1951

First film as free-lancer, "Hotel Sahara"

1953

Played one of the starring roles on the NBC one-hour comedy playlet, "Backbone of America"

1953

First non-US production, "The Captain's Paradise", a British comedy co-starring Alec Guiness and Celia Johnson

1959

Did nightclub tour whose routines included parodies of some of her films; also did occasional TV work, but was semi-retired as she raised her family

1959

Last film for four years, "Timbuktu"

1963

Husband's loss of a leg and his long convalescence led DeCarlo to seek out more acting work

1963

Returned to films in "McLintock"; played a supporting role and took below-the-title billing

1966

Reprised her role as Lily Munster for the feature film, "Munster, Go Home"

1972

Replaced Cyd Charisse on the Australian and New Zealand tour of the stage musical revival of "No, No Nanette"

1974

First TV-movie, "The Girl on the Late, Late Show"

1981

Again reprised the role of Lily Munster for the TV-movie, "The Munsters' Revenge"

Photo Collections

Border River - Publicity Stills
Border River - Publicity Stills
Border River - Scene Stills
Border River - Scene Stills
Border River - Movie Posters
Border River - Movie Posters
Border River - British Front-of-House Stills
Border River - British Front-of-House Stills
Border River - Lobby Card Set
Border River - Lobby Card Set
Border River - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Border River - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Sea Devils - Movie Poster
Sea Devils - Movie Poster

Videos

Movie Clip

Band Of Angels (1957) - She's A Bargain At Five Thousand Former Kentucky society girl Amantha (Yvonne De Carlo), who learned her mother was a slave, immediately after her father died bankrupt, is being sold as a slave at a New Orleans auction when Hamish Bond (Clark Gable, his first scene) strides in with an offer, Larry Blake the auctioneer, Robert Carson the beaten bidder, in Band Of Angels, 1957, from a Robert Penn Warren novel.
Band Of Angels (1957) - I've Got A Past Ex-slave trader Bond (Clark Gable) dispatches Canavan (Torin Thatcher) from his New Orleans home when a storm blows up, then confesses his past to recently-purchased mixed-race slave Amantha (Yvonne De Carlo), who only recently learned of her own background, in Band Of Angels, 1957.
Band Of Angels (1957) -- The Cry Of Freedom Sitting for the first time with her owner, New Orleans gentleman Hamish Bond (Clark Gable), who purchased her out of compassion upon hearing that she’d been raised white, then sold as a slave when her father died bankrupt, Amantha (Yvonne de Carlo) is not convinced of his good will, as she meets his educated slave attaché, Rau Ru (Sidney Poitier, his first scene), in Band Of Angels, 1957.
Band Of Angels (1957) -- Man's Only True Joy Following a scene years earlier in which she was sent to a Cincinnati boarding school from her widowed father’s Kentucky plantation, now-grown Amantha (Yvonne De Carlo) in a letter to slave Sukie (Zelda Cleaver) tells of Miss Idell (Andrea King), her father (William Forrest) and heart-throb Seth (Rex Reason), in Band Of Angels, 1957.
Sombrero (1953) - Open, Welcome To My Village! Splashy opening from producer Jack Cummings, in the Latin hybrid romantic comic-drama with music, largely shot in Mexico, Ricardo Montalban addressing the camera as “Pepe,” heading the quasi-Latin cast, in MGM’s Sombrero, 1953.
Death Of A Scoundrel (1956) - He Left Strict Orders The opening, and little work done by the star George Sanders, as panicked Bridget (Yvonne De Carlo) overcomes the butler (Justice Watson), and finds the plot, in Death Of A Scoundrel, 1956, which RKO made clear was not about the life of the well-known fugitive financier Serge Rubinstein.
Death Of A Scoundrel (1956) - I Might Cross You European refugee swindler Sabourin (George Sanders) with his "assistant" Bridget (Yvonne De Carlo), whom he met on the boat, has come to Canada to reveal his plot to businessman Wilson (Victor Jory), whose wallet he didn't personally steal, in Death Of A Scoundrel, 1956.
Brute Force (1947) - Ever Since The War Inmate "Soldier" (Howard Duff) recalls his Italian wife Gina (Yvonne De Carlo) and the crime that sent him to prison, in Jules Dassin's Brute Force, 1947.
Criss Cross (1949) - Everything That Went Before Director Robert Siodmak’s high octane opening, Burt Lancaster as Steve and Yvonne De Carlo as Anna, urgent and passionate outside a Los Angeles night club, her husband the seething “Slim” (Dan Duryea) giving the headwaiter (Vincent Renno) a hard time, in Criss Cross, 1949.
Criss Cross (1949) - He Tries To Work It Out The bit-player cast as the dance partner of Anna (Yvonne De Carlo) is Tony Curtis, duly mesmerized as she digs into “Jungle Fantasy” by Puerto Rican musician Esy Morales and his band, Burt Lancaster as her ex-husband Steve narrating the back-story, in Robert Siodmak’s Criss Cross, 1949.
Criss Cross (1949) - It All Went One Way Heretofore 100% honest armored car driver Steve (Burt Lancaster) with colleague and family friend Pop (Griff Barnett) not knowing about the heist, recalls his ex-wife (Yvonne DeCarlo) and how he first got involved, Percy Helton the bartender, in Robert Siodmak’s Criss Cross, 1949.
Sea Devils (1953) - You Lose Your Nerve Easily In an English tavern ca. 1800, fisherman turned smuggler Gilliat (Rock Hudson) chills with pal Willie (Bryan Forbes), as rival Rantaine (Maxwell Reed) is engaged by lady spy Yvonne de Carlo, for transit to France, Ivor Barnard her anxious agent, in Sea Devils, 1953, from a Victor Hugo novel.

Trailer

Family

Marie Middleton
Mother
Waitress. Was only 17 when he husband abandoned her with their baby daughter.
Bruce Morgan
Son
Born on July 8, 1956.
Michael Morgan
Son
Born on November 14, 1957.

Companions

Robert Morgan
Husband
Stuntman, actor. Married on November 21, 1955; father of Bruce and Michael Morgan; lost a leg during the making of "How the West Was Won" (1963); divorced in the mid-1970s.

Bibliography