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Little-Known Facts About Yvonne de Carlo (Lily Munster)

Are you a fan of The Munsters? It’s one of America’s classic sitcoms about an oddball family that we’ll still likely be watching for years to come. The matriarch of the family was Lily Munster, played by Yvonne De Carlo.

But do you know the full story about Yvonne De Carlo’s incredible life and career? Do you know about her film career? Do you know the struggles she went through to become a legendary actress?

Her life is one that will inspire you. If you’re looking for a fantastic story about the struggle for stardom, this is it! Yvonne De Carlo will remain a legend in American entertainment!

Let’s learn about Yvonne De Carlo’s incredible life and career…


While she’s an icon of American entertainment, Yvonne De Carlo was actually born in Vancouver, Canada.

She was born Margaret Yvonne Middleton though her childhood nickname was “Peggy.” This nickname came from the child silent film actress Baby Peggy. It was clear that her mother wanted Margaret to grow up to become a star.

Marie De Carlo herself had tried to pursue a career in showbiz to no avail. Margaret’s father, William, was a salesman who also had a shady reputation as a swindler. He had left Canada on a schooner. The story was that he would send for Marie and Margaret once he found a new home.

Alas, Marie and Margaret never heard from him again. Marie was now on her own to raise Margaret and give her a better life.

At the age of 3, Marie enrolled Margaret in dancing classes. As Margaret got older, she took an interest in writing. She first started writing poems and realized she had a gift for writing. Eventually, she graduated to writing short plays. This is when she got a bite by the acting bug.

She began acting in neighborhood plays and soon realized she wanted to become an actress. Perhaps it was fortuitous that her nickname was borrowed from a famous actress!

Throughout her teens, she continued studying acting alongside singing and dancing…

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Margaret began her career in the 1940s. She started going by her middle name Yvonne and dropped her surname to take on her mother’s last nmae. Yvonne De Carlo began her career singing and dancing in nightclubs.

She also entered beauty contests, coming in second in the Miss Venice beauty contest in 1940. The same year she placed fifth in the Miss California competition. While she may not have reached first place, others certainly took notice of her.

Yvonne eventually starting dancing at a popular Hollywood nightclub called the Florentine Gardens. She became so popular that the owner of the club, Nils Granlund, decided to sponsor Yvonne after she threatened by immigration officials to deport her back to Canada.

As her popularity grew, Hollywood came calling. Her first film role was a small role in the 1941 film Harvard, Here I Come! While the role was small, she was able to join the Screen Actors Guild. It was clear that she was destined to be a movie star!


Yvonne’s first significant film credit was in Deerslayer in 1943. Two years later, she won the title role in the 1945 Salome. While the film wasn’t a major hit, Yvonne was now a household name in Hollywood. She was still very early in her film career, but it was clear that audiences wanted to see her.

She signed a 5-year contract with Universal Pictures and appeared in films such as Frontier Gal, Brute Force, Black Bart, and Casbah.

Technicolor was becoming popular at this time and most of Yvonne’s films were shot in color as opposed to the more common black-and-white of the era. This earned Yvonne the moniker of “The Queen of Technicolor.” The film producer Walter Wanger, who produced Salome, had previously dubbed her as “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.”

As she became more successful in films, she also became a bit more selective with her work. One of Yvonne’s most prominent roles was as the character Sephora in The Ten Commandments – released in 1956. The film was a huge hit and brought her even more fame.

It was also on the set of The Ten Commandments that she met Bob Morgan, who wokred as a stuntman for the film. She was married to Bob from 1955 to 1974 and had two sons from the marriage. Yvonne also adopted Bob’s daughter from a previous marriage.

Some of her later films weren’t as successful and she eventually staged a return to B-movies. After Bob was injured while working on How the West Was Won, Yvonne returned to performing in nightclubs to help pay his medical bills.

This naturally was a tough time in her career. But little did she know that she’d soon win the role of a lifetime!



By the 1960s, Yvonne De Carlo was receiving only a few offers to appear in films. She had a few bit parts in popular TV shows such as Adventures in Paradise and Death Valley Days. Her only notable film roles during this time were in McLintock and Law of the Lawless.

But one day, she received a call from Universal Pictures who had helped her launch her film career. This time, they were offering a role for a television sitcom.

This was a rather odd sitcom about a family of monsters trying to live a seemingly normally life. The show was known as The Munsters and Yvonne De Carlo was in the running to portray Lily Munster, the matriarch of The Munster family.

At first, two of her co-stars Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were worried about whether Yvonne would be able to transition working on the silver screen. After all, she was a massive movie star and her experience in television acting had been sporadic.

But she soon became a household name among TV audiences with her portrayal of Lily Munster. The entire cast became friends with her and remembered her fondly for her work on the show.

The Munsters ran for 70 episodes over 2 seasons. The show helped re-launch Yvonne De Carlo’s career and brought a new legion of fans who began to appreciate her work.

Yvonne had fond memories of working on the show and the revived stardom it brought her. She was also glad about the stability that the show brought her.


After finishing her work on The Munsters, Yvonne began acting on the stage and revived her film career.

She had roles in films such as Hostile Guns, Arizona Bushwhackers, The Power, The Delta Factor, and The Seven Minutes.

The 1980s saw Yvonne De Carlo in popular horror films such as American Gothic and Mirror Mirror. She also had a small role alongside Kirk Douglas and Sylvester Stallone in the film Oscar.

Her last film that was released was a television movie called The Barefoot Executive which also starred Kurt Russell and John Ritter. She also starred in a couple of movies based on The Munsters. It was clear that this was the role that so many fans would remember her for.

Looking back, one can admire her prolific and multifaceted career. While she began taking dancing classes at an early age, she also soon discovered a talent for writing. Before long, she began earning a living through singing and dancing – with acting soon to follow!

Much of her success  has to be attributed to her mother Marie. For Marie, life wasn’t easy after her husband William left the family. Yvonne didn’t have many memories of her father and assumed he had passed away before she became a movie star as she never heard from him again.

Marie mostly worked as a waitress and managed to bring up her daughter with this salary. They would move house often, and once even stayed in an apartment without any furniture!

But Marie invested her time in money in helping Yvonne get the right training to become a successful entertainer. Upon moving to the United States, Yvonne soon developed a knack for performing in front of audiences in nightclubs.

In the later stage of her career, she had a remarkable career on the stage. She appeared in musicals such as Hello Dolly and Little Me. One of her most notable stage performances was in the musical Dollies.

Her choice of acting roles also showed her versatility. Much of her early career was in B-movies and Westerns. But she also showed incredible depth in the Biblical epic, The Ten Commandments. With The Munsters, she showed she could excel in comedy as well!

Yvonne also could act in horror films and sexploitation films, such as those made by Russ Meyer! For her entire career, she was also adored because of her incredible beauty and charm. She was clearly an actress whom others loved working with.

For most of us, we’ll always remember Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster. But for many aspiring entertainers, she is an inspiration to never give up and persevere. She initially struggled to break into Hollywood. Once she did, the roles kept coming before eventually drying up by the 1960s. But this didn’t stop her from working hard. The Munsters brought her back to stardom and she acted continuously until her retirement in the 1990s.

Sadly, Yvonne De Carlo suffered a stroke in 1998. She died in 2007 at the age of 84. Hers was an incredible life and we’re grateful that she left behind a fantastic library of films and TV episodes for us to enjoy!

Did you know any of these little-known facts about Yvonne De Carlo? We can certainly look back on her life and really admire her for her multi-faceted career!

Do you think her best work was in The Munsters? Or do you prefer her work in films?

Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

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