I hadn’t thought about Lily or the other Munsters in years, but it all came back today when I read the news that Yvonne De Carlo had passed away.
Born Peggy Yvonne Middleton in Vancouver, BC in 1922, she had a long list of acting credits, including the role of Moses’ wife Sephora in 1956’s “The Ten Commandments”, but most of us will remember her best as Lily, vampirish matriarch of the 60’s classic: “The Munsters”.
I think my earliest memory of De Carlo and “The Munsters” comes from when I was a kid living in the country in Ontario. On Sundays around noon, one of the few TV stations (I can’t remember which) that we could pick up on the aerial tower would air old comedies like the Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy or Three Stooges features and shorts, and one rainy afternoon it was “Munster, Go Home”. How could I not love it? The flick was mock-horror silliness at its campy best. And there, in the middle of it all, clad in her pale gown and calmly steering her ghoulish family through the chaos like the captain of some great, ugly scow, was the darkly beautiful Yvonne De Carlo as Lily.
Years later as a teen in BC’s Lower Mainland I would watch “The Munsters” TV series airing in syndication on one of the cable stations out of Bellingham or Seattle, alongside equally ancient reruns of “The Addams Family”. It was obvious that even under all that makeup, De Carlo was still quite a beautiful woman, even though she was in her early 40’s when the series was shot and they didn’t have all of the youth-prolonging treatments (which, granted, often have hideous results) available today. In fact, as monstrous TV moms of that era go, Lily Munster was far more attractive than her counterpart, Morticia Addams. While the needy Morticia primped, posed and did her feline best to show she had it, Lily’s normal behaviour was vastly more sexy just for her even-keeled confidence alone, never mind her breath-taking looks.
That big lump Herman Munster was a lucky guy to have Lily. All of us in the TV and movie audience were lucky to be able to watch Ms. De Carlo.
Yvonne De Carlo died in the Motion Picture & Television facility in suburban Los Angeles on January 8th of natural causes. She was 84.