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Updated: January 25, 2024

To help her single mother, Yvonne De Carlo, born September 1, 1922, performed in nightclubs around Vancouver. She soon made the move to Hollywood, where she was typecast as an exotic vixen before appearing in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments. She later played the role of as the mother, Lily Munster, in the series The Munsters.

Early Life:

Actress Yvonne De Carlo was born Peggy Yvonne Middleton, on September 1, 1922, in Point Gray, British Columbia, Canada. De Carlo was the sole child born to Marie Middleton, who was only 17 when her husband deserted her and their daughter. Marie supported Yvonne's decision to drop out of high school and pursue a career as an entertainer.

In order to alleviate her family's financial troubles, Yvonne spent most of her teens performing in nightclubs and on stage. Needing a new name to accompany her budding career, she used her mother's maiden name, and was thereafter billed as Yvonne De Carlo.

De Carlo and her mother sought greater opportunities in the United States and, in 1940, they settled in Los Angeles, California. A year later, the ambitious actress caught the attention of Paramount Studios, who signed her to a weekly contract. Like many newcomers, she found herself in a number of minor ( and sometimes uncredited ) roles in the films Road to Morocco ( 1942 ), as well as For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Deerslayer ( both 1943 ).

Lead Roles:

In 1945, Universal took notice of the alluring actress and cast her as the lead in Salome, Where She Danced, a Technicolor Western. The film was forgettable, but De Carlo's performance as an exotic dancer turned spy earned her the recognition she sought. Similar seductive roles followed in the Song of Scheherazade and Slave Girl ( both 1947 ). De Carlo's projects during the '40s bolstered her visibility, but at the same time, limited her roles to that of a sultry screen vixen.

Following a few disappointing features with Universal, the studio failed to see a future for De Carlo. They terminated her contract, after which her work consisted mainly of unremarkable Westerns, including Scarlet Angel ( 1952 ) with Rock Hudson, and Shotgun ( 1955 ). However, she surprisingly turned in good comedic performances in the British-made Hotel Sahara ( 1951 ) and The Captain's Paradise ( 1953 ), co-starring Sir Alec Guinness.

The year 1956 defined a turning point in De Carlo's career when she was cast in Cecil B. DeMille's landmark production of The Ten Commandments. De Carlo's performance as Moses' wife Sephora, opposite Hollywood icons Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, marked a place for her in films. Her next project paired her with Clark Gable and Sidney Poitier in the flat costume epic Band of Angels ( 1957 ).

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