Yvonne De Carlo: "The Munsters" and Beyond

Herbie J Pilato

Photo byThe Classic TV Preservation Society

Acting icon Yvonne De Carlo played Moses’ devoted wife in The Ten Commandments but her greatest claim to fame was as Lily Munster on TV’s The Munsters.

As documented by The Associated Press, and Today.com, Yvonne De Carlo's "shapely figure helped launch her career in B-movie desert adventures and Westerns." She rose to more significant roles in the 1950s, including Moses' wife in The Ten Commandments feature film, and later played a key role in a landmark Broadway musical, Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.

But it was her Munsters' performance as Lily, a vampire-like character married to the inept but lovable Frankenstein-like Herman Munster (played by 6-foot-5-inch Fred Gwynne) with which she made her mark.

The series debuted in 1964, along with the similarly-themed The Addams Family, but it retained a long life in syndication and led to movie sequels: Munster Go Home! (1966) and The Munsters' Revenge. (1981, for TV).

As De Carlo once noted, “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.”

George Barris, who created the ghoulish Munsters car, equipped De Carlo’s Jaguar with spider web hubcaps, a gargoyle hood ornament, and a glossy black sunroof. “She was a wonderful lady and a car buff. She loved the show so much that she incorporated it into her life, her own car,” Barris relayed when De Carlo died in 2007.

As was noted on Today.com, "De Carlo was able to sustain a long career by repeatedly reinventing herself. A longtime student of voice, she sang opera at the Hollywood Bowl. When movie roles became scarce, she ventured into stage musicals.

"Her greatest stage triumph came on Broadway in 1971 with Follies, which won the 1972 Tony award for Best Original Musical Score. She belted out Sondheim’s showstopping number, 'I’m Still Here,' a former star’s defiant recounting of the highs and lows of her life and career," Today.com concluded.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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