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General information  

  • Real name : Margaret Yvonne Middleton
  • Date of birth : 01/09/1922
  • Date of death : 08/01/2007

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Alias  

  • Carlo de Yvonne

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Yvonne de Carlo (1922)

Margaret Yvonne Middleton

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  Summary  

Yvonne De Carlo (September 1, 1922 – January 8, 2007) was a Canadian-born American actress of film and television. During her six-decade career, her most frequent appearances in film came in the 1940s and 1950s and included her best-known film roles, such as of Anna Marie in Salome Where She Danced ; Anna in Criss Cross ; Sephora the wife of Moses in The Ten Commandments , starring Charlton Heston; and Amantha Starr in Band of Angels with Clark Gable. In the early 1960s, De Carlo accepted the offer to play Lily Munster for the CBS television series The Munsters, alongside Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis.

  Biography  

 early life
The daughter of an aspiring actress, Marie De Carlo, and a salesman, William Middleton, De Carlo was born Margaret Yvonne Middleton in Vancouver, British Columbia, and nicknamed 'Peggy'. "I was named Margaret Yvonne – Margaret because my mother was very fond of one of the derivatives of the name. She was fascinated at the time by the movie star Baby Peggy, and I suppose she wanted a Baby Peggy of her own." Her maternal grandfather, Michael de Carlo, was Sicilian-born, and her maternal grandmother, Margaret Purvis, was Scottish-born. Margaret's mother ran away from home when she was 16 to become a ballerina; after a couple of years of working as a shop girl, she was married in 1924. Little Peggy was three years old when her father abandoned the family. She lived with her grandparents. By the time she entered grade school, she found that her strong singing voice brought her the attention she longed for. Although her mother recognized Peggy's singing talent, she had already decided that her daughter would be a dancer. As a teenager Peggy was taken by her mother to Hollywood where she enrolled her in dancing school; she also attended Le Conte Middle School in Hollywood. Margaret lived in a downtown apartment with her mother, while Marie took on odd jobs such as waitressing. Mother and daughter were uprooted when their visas expired. Unable to find work, they returned to Vancouver.

She attended and dropped out of Vancouver's now-defunct King Edward High School, to focus more on her dance studies. She then attended the B.C. School of Dancing. It was there that Canadian dance instructor, June Roper, started her in a new direction, for which she was grateful and relieved. The following year at the Orpheum Theatre, Peggy appeared as a hula dancer in the famous revue Waikiki. A new nightclub, the Palomar, opened in Vancouver, and she acquired a week-long booking. Hoping to present a more sophisticated image, she combined her middle name with her mother's maiden name and became "Yvonne De Carlo."

The pair made several such trips until 1940, when De Carlo was first runner-up to "Miss Venice Beach" and was hired by showman Nils Granlund as a dancer at the Florentine Gardens. She had been dancing for Granlund only a short time when she was arrested by immigration officials and deported to Canada, but in January 1941, Granlund sent a telegram to Canadian immigration officials pledging his sponsorship of De Carlo in the United States, and affirmed his offer of steady employment, both requirements to reenter the country.

Before she worked at Florentine, she also got her first job at 16, working at Vancouver's Palomar, where it expanded from a ballroom to a nightclub in 1938. Her time at the nightclub ended when she allegedly was pressured to expose her breasts.
Seeking contract work in the movies, she abruptly quit the Florentine Gardens after less than a year, landing a role as a bathing beauty in the 1941 B-movie Harvard, Here I Come. Other roles were slow to follow, and De Carlo took a job in the chorus line of Earl Carroll, another Hollywood showman. Her sixth film appearance was at the request of Nils Granlund, and the film Rhythm Parade was set at the Florentine Gardens nightclub in Hollywood.

In December 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor signaled America's entrance into World War II. During this period she engaged in morale boosting performances for U.S. servicemen. De Carlo was a favorite leading lady in the 1940s, and a recipient of many letters from GI's.

 film career
 Early successes
She was a Paramount starlet, but the studio apparently signed her mainly for her slight resemblance to Dorothy Lamour, as it was common then for studios to sign lookalikes in order to remind the stars in question that they easily could be replaced should their behavior become difficult or their box-office appeal begin to wane. When she moved to Universal Studios, she was used as a B-movie version of Maria Montez, one of the studio's reigning divas.

Her break came in 1945 playing the title role in Salome, Where She Danced. Though not a critical success, it was a box office favorite, and De Carlo was hailed as an up-and-coming star. Of the role, she was less sure, saying of her entrance, "I came through these beaded curtains, wearing a Japanese kimono and a Japanese headpiece, and then performed a Siamese dance. Nobody seemed to know quite why."

In 1947 she played her first leading role in Slave Girl and then in 1949 had her biggest success. As the female lead opposite Burt Lancaster in Criss Cross, she played a femme fatale, and her career began to ascend. She starred in the 1953 film The Captain's Paradise, as one of two wives a ship captain keeps in separate ports.

 The Ten Commandments

In 1954, during the casting for Cecil B. DeMille's biblical-epic The Ten Commandments , actress Audrey Hepburn was suggested for the role of "Nefretiri" and actress Anne Baxter was chosen for the part of "Sephora". After Hepburn was turned down for the role of the Egyptian throne princess for being too "flat chested", the part of "Nefretiri" was handed down to Baxter.

When DeMille saw De Carlo in Sombrero , he offered her the vacant role of "Sephora". De Carlo accepted, and declined another role she was offered in a German film at the time. De Carlo quotes "working with Mr. DeMille was a learning experience that I will never forget".

With a pay of 25,000; De Carlo's performance in the film made her into a first-class actress who could play any kind of role in big-budget films. Besides filming at Paramount Studios, De Carlo accompanied DeMille and the rest of the crew to Egypt, where several exterior shots were filmed. De Carlo met stuntman Robert Morgan in Egypt, and married him on November 21, 1955 in Reno, Nevada.

 Band of Angels
The 1957 film Band of Angels featured her opposite Clark Gable in an American Civil War story, along with Sidney Poitier and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. The actress worked steadily for the next several years, although many of the films failed to advance her career.

 personal life
While starring in The Gal Who Took the West , De Carlo not only walked away with the picture, but she walked away with Jock Mahoney, who was her boyfriend at the time. She and Jock were going to start a family, and in 1949, they were engaged. In her first trimester, she suffered a miscarriage, and De Carlo called off the engagement.

She married the stuntman Robert Morgan, whom she met on the set of Shotgun, on November 21, 1955. They had two sons, Bruce and Michael. Morgan also had a daughter, Bari, from a previous marriage. Morgan's left leg had to be amputated after he was run over by a train while doing stunt work on How the West Was Won . However, his contract with MGM assumed no responsibility for the accident. De Carlo and Morgan filed a $1.4 million lawsuit against the studio, claiming her husband was permanently disabled. They divorced in June 1974.

In her autobiography, published in 1987, she listed 22 intimate friends, including Prince Aly Khan, Billy Wilder, Burt Lancaster, Howard Hughes, Robert Stack and Robert Taylor.

Her mother died in 1993 from a fall. Her son Michael died in 1997; causes were unknown, although a Santa Barbara Police report contains concerns about possible foul play. De Carlo had a stroke the following year, but soon recovered.

De Carlo was a naturalized citizen of the United States.

 death
De Carlo moved to the Black Lake Retirement Community, in Nipomo, California. In declining health, she then became a resident of the Motion Picture & Television Hospital, in Woodland Hills, California, where she spent her last years. Her son Bruce was her key caregiver during her last days. There, on January 8, 2007, she died of natural causes. A memorial service was held a few days later at The Woodland Hills MGM Theater; among those attending the service was television and film producer Kevin Burns. She is survived by her son, Bruce, who is filming ProjectLodestar, a film featuring a cameo appearance by De Carlo. After she died she was cremated, and the ashes were given to either her family or her friend.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Yvonne De Carlo", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.