Friday, January 12, 2007

Munsters' De Carlo Dies

Yvonne De Carlo, the beautiful star who played Moses' wife in The Ten Commandments but achieved her greatest popularity on TV's The Munsters, has died, the Associated Press reported. She was 84.

De Carlo died of natural causes Jan. 8 at the Motion Picture & Television facility in suburban Los Angeles, longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns told the AP.

De Carlo, whose shapely figure helped launch her career in B-movie desert adventures and westerns, rose to more important roles in the 1950s.

But for TV viewers, she will always be known as Lily Munster in the 1964-'66 slapstick horror-movie spoof The Munsters. The series (the name allegedly derived from "fun-monsters") offered a gallery of Universal Pictures grotesques, including Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, in a cobwebbed gothic setting.

Lily, vampire-like in a black gown, presided over the faux scary household and was a rock for her gentle but often bumbling husband, Herman, played by 6-foot-5-inch character actor Fred Gwynne (decked out as the Frankenstein monster).

The show lasted only two years, but had a long life in syndication and resulted in two feature movies, Munster Go Home! (1966) and The Munsters' Revenge (1981, for TV).

Before that, Cecil B. DeMille chose De Carlo to play Sephora, wife to Charlton Heston's Moses in The Ten Commandments. The following year she co-starred with Clark Gable and Sidney Poitier in Band of Angels as Gable's upper-class sweetheart who learns of her black forebears.

De Carlo, who was born Peggy Yvonne Middleton in Vancouver, B.C., lived in semiretirement near Solvang, north of Santa Barbara. Her son Michael died in 1997, and she suffered a stroke the following year.

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