Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Lily Munster Actress Once Praised ‘The Munsters’ for Making Her ‘Hot Again’

Lily Munster Actress Once Praised ‘The Munsters’ for Making Her ‘Hot Again’

Yvonne De Carlo might be known for her role as Lily Munster on The Munsters, but she brought a career of red-hot roles with her.

Those “in the know” who loved movies could immediately recognize De Carlo’s name. She was a name star in the 1940s. Heck, she even had a role in Cecil B. DeMille’s epic film The Ten Commandments. Yet her movie career had stalled to a halt and De Carlo was in need of work.

This is where she, in 1964, went and auditioned for that Lily Munster role. As it turns out, becoming part of The Munsters cast was a godsend. She spoke with Toronto Star TV critic James Bawden in an interview for his book, You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet. De Carlo noticed that the show made her “hot again” with a younger audience. She was quite grateful for this to happen in her career.

Yvonne De Carlo Enjoyed Meeting Fans

In talking with Bawden, De Carlo also mentioned what it was like to interact with these newer fans of her work. “Everywhere I go, kids would be pointing at me and asking if I really was Lily Munster,” De Carlo said. “In Hollywood, you have to roll with the punches if you want to keep working. Older women had to resort to monster movies. I played a monster, but it was a funny one.”

Working on The Munsters also meant something else for her. “It meant security,” she said. The show ran on CBS for two seasons from 1964-66, but has lived on forever in syndication. It’s not likely De Carlo worked out a deal for a lot of royalties to flow in from The Munsters reruns. Before taking on the role, De Carlo found herself in debt. She was encouraged by those around her to go and audition, which she did.

Bawden added an important point about his conversation with De Carlo. “After a while, she came to like playing a monster because she wasn’t really able to do comedy until then…and glamor girls, by the time they’re 40, their Hollywood careers are usually over,” he said, according to Do You Remember.

‘The Munsters’ Popularity Led To Movie

How popular was The Munsters? Besides their TV work, the cast also did a 1966 movie for a theater run titled Munster, Go Home. At the same time The Munsters were on the air, ABC also ran with The Addams Family starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones. Both shows were quite different in their dialogue and show ideas. Yet they were “horror sitcoms” that brought some spice to the TV landscape.

Besides De Carlo, other cast members included Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, Beverly Owen, and Pat Priest. Owen originated the Marilyn Munster role but exited the show after several episodes.

Being a situation comedy allowed De Carlo to venture in a new direction. Most of her movie roles saw her play a saucy, spicy type of woman. This did not call for her to be that way. Playing the matriarch of a ghoulish clan worked out pretty well for de Carlo, though.

It probably didn’t hurt that Gwynne and Lewis had previously worked together. They made their television marks on the classic show Car 54, Where Are You?

De Carlo died in 2007 but her memory continues to be honored thanks to The Munsters. Musician Rob Zombie has helped keep the show’s name in the public eye thanks to his movie based on the TV show. TV executives have tried to reboot the show with different actors. While a noble effort, fans still gravitate toward the black-and-white version.