There were a lot of talented and attractive actresses back in the day and the stunning Yvonne De Carlo was one of them.
She catapulted to fame by starring in the CBS sitcom The Munsters, only for a tragic accident to suddenly halt her career.
The legendary Yvonne De Carlo was a sultry and versatile actress with a movie career spanning over six decades. Born in 1922, she’s one of the most prominent celebrities to come out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
As a young girl, De Carlo was abandoned by her father. She was raised by her mother in poor circumstances – but she always knew that she wanted to be an actress, and De Carlo wrote her plays as a 13-year-old.
During her time in Hollywood, the blue-eyed brunette proved that she was the real deal – she could do it all. It wasn’t just the fact that her beauty was overwhelming, De Carlo seemed to be a very down-to-earth lady as well.
Her career in movies and television is a testimony to her strength of character and determination. Among many other things, she played Moses’ wife in the epic film The Ten Commandments – though she’s best known for her role on the tv series The Munsters.
No one could have played Lily Munster better than De Carlo – she nailed the role of a vampire in the monster sitcom. To this day, many of us can still remember the famous line when Lily, the matriarch of the monster family, says, “I’ve never heard of anything so outrageous in all my LIVES!”
The show propelled Yvonne De Carlo towards TV stardom – the role defined her career, and she gained a whole new generation of fans. It could even be said that The Munsters renewed De Carlos’s career. She had a good run in Tinseltown even before the show – she was often called the most beautiful girl in the world, and the audience loved her.
But the truth is that De Carlo’s star quality had begun to fade around the time she was cast in the monster sitcom. The Canadian-American actress had turned 42 when she was offered the role of Lily. And no one could have guessed that The Munsters would be hailed as one of the best television series of all time.
“It meant security,” De Carlo later said. “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.”
“But I never estimated it would become this cult thing. It took two hours of makeup to make me seem like that. It ran for two huge seasons, then CBS quarreled with the creators about reruns as we got canceled. A movie in color in 1966 [‘Munster, Go Home!’] showed off everything in reds and greens on my face. Boy, was I ugly?”
After The Munsters, De Carlo continued to appear both in TV series and on stage. As one of the most respected actresses in the business, she had fans in every generation and no problem finding new and exciting projects.
Unfortunately, De Carlo had a pretty tough time of things during the last years of her life. It all goes back to when the actress met stuntman Robert ”Bob” Morgan on set in 1955.
The couple had some chemistry, but Morgan was married at the time and Yvonne didn’t want to take things further. According to herself, she had ”no intention of causing that marriage to break up.”
Her husband lost his leg
When Morgan’s wife died, he and De Carlo met again on the set of The Ten Commandments in Egypt. They fell in love, got married, and had two sons together, Bruce Ross and Michael.
But living with a stuntman and daredevil came with a price. Morgan and De Carlo struggled to make their marriage work, but everything changed when the former was hit by a moving log train while shooting the 1962 movie How the West Was Won.
The accident cost Morgan his leg. He almost died performing the stunt, and the traumatic experience would affect the whole family. After the incident, medical bills piled up and De Carlo worked extremely hard to support her family. Yvonne, who had retired from acting by that point, had to go back to work to pay the bills.
“Before the accident, we were on the verge of breaking up, but when they took me to the hospital I just choked up and only one thought filled my mind: I don’t want my husband to die,” she said.
The Hollywood couple stayed together until 1973.
Losing her son
Sadly, De Carlo would once again have to face unimaginable tragedy. In 1997, her son Michael died at age 39. According to his brother, Michael died of brain damage from a stroke.
Her son’s death was a heavy blow for De Carlo. She made her last film in 1995, and after her son’s death never returned to the entertainment industry. She suffered a minor stroke in 1998.
According to her other son, Bob Ross, the stroke resulted from the stress and grief De Carlo felt over Michael’s passing.
“It just preyed on her mind to the point that she had a stroke the following year,” James Bawden, a former TV columnist for the Toronto Star, said.
“All she would talk about was her son.”
Yvonne De Carlo’s cause of death
Yvonne De Carlo passed away in January 2007 at age 84. During the last years of her life, she lived in a semi-retirement home near Solvang, north of Santa Barbara.
Her cause of death was heart failure.
“I think she will best remember as the definitive Lily Munster. She was the vampire mom to millions of baby boomers. In that sense, she’s iconic,” her longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns said at the time.
“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.”
Yvonne De Carlo is just pure legendary! She is what acting is all about and managed to reinvent herself all the time.
No matter her role, she was always on top of her game and portrayed her character most elegantly and believably. Rest in Peace!