Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Hometown Munster

Remember that TV show that ran from 1964 to 1966? The Munster was, as still is, a favourite among many. But how many of you know of the Vancouver connection to that show?

On September 1, 1922 Margaret 'Peggy' Yvonne Middleton was born to mother Marie De Carlo Middleton. Peggy was anxious to arrive in this world and made her appearance, assisted by two nurses, before the doctor could arrive.

Mrs. Middleton is reported to have lamented during the birth that she had to have a daughter because she wanted a dancer. Well that is what she got and so much more.

Little Peggy Middleton was a precocious child. Her father deserted the family when she was three and her mother went to work as a waitress to make ends meet. As you may have already gathered Mrs. Middleton was intent on making her daughter famous. As soon as the young girl was old enough her mother put her into acting classes and enrolled the young girl at June Roper's British Columbia School of Dance.

When Peggy was fourteen she got a job dancing at the Palomar Supper Club in Vancouver. There she decided to change her name and she combined her middle name, Yvonne, with her mother's maiden name and now had an exotic sounding handle to go with her sultry looks. Yvonne De Carlo.

When Yvonne was 18 she and her mother moved to Hollywood and there the young woman worked as a dancer in chorus lines and spent her days doing the rounds and looking for work at the various Hollywood studios.

De Carlo played minor parts in movies for a few years until the day that she opened the door to her apartment to find a stack of newspapers left there by Universal Studio publicists. Yvonne De Carlo had been chosen by major film producer Walter Wanger to star in his next production Salome Where She Danced. Wanger called her 'the most beautiful girl in the world'.

Can you imagine how De Carlo and her mother must have felt that day? These are the stories that Hollywood legends and dreams are made of.

The rest, as they say, is history. For the next fifty years the Vancouver girl known as Yvonne De Carlo worked on movies and on stage with such greats as Charleton Heston, Clark Gable and Alex Guinness. She appeared on stage and in dozens of television movies. But that is not where many of us recognize this beauty.

In 1964 Yvonne went back to work to help her injured husband, who was a stuntman. She portrayed Lily Munster on the hit TV show The Munsters. Amusingly enough, with all the quality work she'd done, this is the character Yvonne De Carlo became best known for.

Once again I have to thank the website for the History of Metropolitan Vancouver as well as for the information. I hope you find the beauty around you.

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