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Yvonne De Carlo: A Munster and More

Published: 1/8/2013
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Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster (AP Photo)

When we think of loving TV moms, we usually conjure visions of Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver, Marion Ross as Mrs. C on Happy Days, Esther Rolle as Florida Evans on Good Times, and the like. Sometimes we forget the moms whose television worlds were a little weirder… moms such as Yvonne De Carlo, the matriarch of that modern family, The Munsters

Lily Munster may not have been the typical TV mom, but she still had a lot of love for her son and niece… and those of us who revel in the unusual probably counted her among our favorites.

The Munsters was a career-defining gig for De Carlo, who died Jan. 8, 2007, six years ago today. But it was far from her only success. Long before she donned that bicolor wig, she had a big-screen career with films like 1945's Salome, Where She Danced. It was her first big break, and it allowed her to use the dancing talent that she had honed as a teenager attending dance school.

In 1949 De Carlo starred opposite Burt Lancaster in Criss Cross. The film noir classic let De Carlo put on her dancing shoes once again.

More movies followed: Cecil B. DeMille's epic The Ten Commandments co-starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, comic western McLintock!, and Civil War tale Band of Angels with Clark Gable.

But by the early '60s, De Carlo's movie career was starting to dry up. She played a bit role here and there, but she might have faded into obscurity if it weren't for the good luck that brought her to The Munsters. A whole new generation got to know her… and think of her as a mother figure. Decades after The Munsters first aired and years after De Carlo's death, she's still one of our favorite TV moms.

Written by Linnea Crowther

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