Yvonne De Carlo, Follies' Original Carlotta, Is Dead at 84 | Playbill

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Obituaries Yvonne De Carlo, Follies' Original Carlotta, Is Dead at 84 Yvonne De Carlo, the sultry actress who made her mark in films ("The Ten Commandments") and television ("The Munsters") and was one of the stars of the original production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies, died Jan. 8. She was 84.
Yvonne De Carlo
Yvonne De Carlo

She died of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television facility in suburban Los Angeles, longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns told the Washington Post.

In 1971, Ms. De Carlo made one of her many comebacks in the Harold Prince production of Follies, a musical about a gathering of erstwhile Broadway stars. It was destined to become a classic of the American musical theatre. She played one-time headliner Carlotta Campion and, as such, sang what is perhaps the show's most iconic song, the show business survivor anthem, "I'm Still Here."

At the time, she was considered the biggest draw of the show, owing to her "Munsters" fame. Her name appeared just below the title on the marquee and was in the same size type as the four principal actors. In his book "Everything Was Possible," Ted Chapin described her appearance: "Working her way up the stairs, [she was] wrapped in fur, wearing a black wig and teardrop-shaped sunglasses, and carrying a small suitcase covered in fabric of brightly colored flowers."

"I'm Still Here" was a late addition to the score. Many, including Chapin, thought the lyrics were inspired by Ms. De Carlo's career, and given the following, it's not hard to understand why:

"First you're another
Sloe-eyed vamp,
Then someone's mother,
Then you're camp.
Then you career from career
To career." Follies would be her only Broadway credit, but the part earned her a place in theatre history.

Like her character, Carlotta, Ms. De Carlo managed to persevere throughout a career characterized by many ups and downs. She first gained fame in a series of "B" movie westerns and adventures, winning roles based mainly on her vampish looks and shapely figure. She was rarely listed in the credits. Following her performance in "Salome—Where She Danced" in 1945, she was typecast as Hollywood's resident exotic temptress. Her films during this period included such suggestive titles as "Slave Girl," "Casbah" and "Scarlet Angel." She reached her peak of fame playing Sephora in the 1956 epic "The Ten Commandments."

Soon after, however, her star dimmed. She was saved from obscurity when she was cast of Lily Munster, slinky wife of Fred Gwynne's Frankenstein-like Herman Munster in the horror-genre sitcom spoof, "The Munsters." The show ran only two seasons, from 1964 to 1966, but lasted a lifetime in reruns. Between annual Easter TV airings of "The Ten Commandments" and "The Munsters" repeats, Ms. De Carlo was forever in the public eye.

In 1955, Ms. De Carlo married Bob Morgan, a stunt man. They had two sons, Bruce and Michael. She said that she took the job on "The Munsters" to pay for Morgan's medical expenses after he was injured doing a stunt for "How the West Was Won."

Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster and in her legendary turn as the original Carlotta in <i>Follies</i>.
Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster and in her legendary turn as the original Carlotta in Follies.

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