Elvira. She’s the mistress of the dark. She doesn’t do what the good girls do. And she’s the girl with the enormous… ratings. Elvira came to life in 1981, and has been a staple in the entertainment world every Halloween since. She’s most famous for her gothic look, styling herself in black from head to toe. She has a mountain of black hair, wears a figure-hugging black dress with black nylons, and walks in sky high black heels. The costume shows off her long legs, narrow waist and ample cleavage.
Beneath all her heavy makeup, Elvira has a personality that’s to die for. While she loves all things macabre, she’s also a valley girl through and through. She enjoys a good roll in the hay, snacks on edible underwear, and has a soft spot for animals. Elvira is also quick-witted with her bawdy one-liners and double entendres. That’s why she’s been an enduring favorite for so many years. Whether you are a fan of her curves or a fan of her unique comedy, you are certain to be bloodthirsty to know more about this girl that offers both tricks and treats. So start the Halloween season off right, and discover the 15 things you never knew about Elvira. Unpleasant dreams…
15. Born In Manhattan
Elvira was born in Manhattan… Manhattan, Kansas, to be precise. Her family moved to Colorado after the area was flooded. Her parents owned a costume store, which was a dream come true for her. She enjoyed dressing up in the costumes, and even wore them to school – which scared the other kids. She won a costume contest in second grade when she dressed up as “Miss Kitty” from Gunsmoke.
Halloween was always a big time of year for her family. She said, “Relatives would fly out from all over the country to help my family at the store. And they would be preparing for it months in advance. I would work there after school stuffing tiger tails and devil horns with foam, and helping iron and wash and get everything ready so it could be rented again the next day.”
14. Naturally A Redhead
Who knew that Elvira is a natural redhead? It’s a total surprise given the fact that she dresses up with jet black hair which contrasts with her ultra-pale skin. Her dramatic makeup hides classically beautiful features, like pink cheeks, a slight smattering of cute freckles, and wide, thin lips. It takes Elvira 90 minutes to get in character from head to toe.
Elvira evolved over time. Initially, she resembled a ghost when she auditioned to be a horror hostess. However, the look wasn’t received well so she tried to be a vampire vixen – which totally worked. Her slinky black dress, cleavage and shocking makeup were a big hit. Elvira didn’t think that network TV would approve her edgy look, but when it came time for input, all they asked her to do was make the slit in her dress higher. As for her hair, it was inspired by the 60s girl group “The Ronettes.” Elvira’s personality was as a result of trying to make herself stand out during auditions. While other actresses spoke with exaggerated Transylvanian accents and tried to scare audiences, Elvira inserted humor and double-talk into her act.
In the 1980s, Elvira was sued by an actress known as “Vampira,” who was a horror hostess in the 50s. She claimed that Elvira stole her character. The extent of the similarities was that the two dressed in a macabre but alluring style, so the lawsuit was thrown out.
13. Burn Victim
When Elvira was just a little girl, she suffered a horrific accident while decorating Easter eggs. She pulled a pot of boiling water off the stove, and it spilled all over her. She suffered terrible burns. A third of her body had to be skin grafted, and she spent three months in the hospital. The burns were so bad that her eyes were fused shut, and she lost most of her hair. Once she got older, she was self-conscious about her scars. She was also teased due to her deformity. According to Elvira, “The burns made me feel like an outcast and a loner. I certainly was not popular. I was a major geek.” She said that as a result, she connected with characters like Frankenstein. This led to her lifelong love of horror movies. She said that she found them strangely comforting. Easter may have been ruined for her, but she made up for it with her enthusiasm for Halloween.
12. Real Name Is Cassandra Peterson
Elvira’s real name is Cassandra Peterson. Who knew? It’s a normal name for a normal girl. So how did she come up with the name Elvira? As with many things in show business, the truth is stranger than fiction. She had landed the gig as horror hostess for Movie Macabre due to carefully cultivating her looks and persona. However, she apparently didn’t think up a name for herself. Time was running out before her big debut, so someone in the studio came up with a brilliant idea. Everyone wrote down a list of names, and put them in a hat right before she had to go in front of the camera. The plan was that she would use whatever name she happened to pick at random. “Elvira” was the one she chose. She said that she didn’t like the name at first, because it was the title of a hit country song at the time by “The Oak Ridge Boys.” Once she became famous, she changed her tune and joked that the song was actually written about her.
11. Las Vegas Showgirl
Elvira first danced professionally at a gay club as a go-go dancer in high school. Then, she got her big break when she became a Las Vegas showgirl. She grew up dancing, and even learned how to shake nipple tassels at the age of 14. So, it was only fitting that just days after she graduated from high school, she left home for Vegas. She was just 17 at the time, and nabbed a spot as a dancer at The Dunes in the show “Viva Les Girls.” Her parents actually had to sign papers allowing her to perform since she was underage. Elvira holds the title of being the youngest showgirl in Las Vegas history. Her first film role was one in which she played a dancer, in the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever.
And, Peterson isn’t just a dancer – she also sings! She was the lead singer in an Italian rock band. She has also released five CDs. Elvira can also rap. There’s a great part at the end of her movie, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, when she raps during her big show in Las Vegas.
10. Dated Elvis
Elvira is one of the women that briefly dated Elvis. The two met when she was living in Las Vegas, and had a short lived romance. According to her, she was a big groupie and dating Elvis was a dream come true. In fact, it was Elvis who encouraged her to pursue her dream of being a singer. According to Elvira, “He is 100 percent responsible for me getting out of Vegas and going on with my career. Elvis said to me, ‘You don’t want to stay here, this is not a town you should be in.’ And I don’t think if that would’ve come from anybody but Elvis I would’ve done it.”
Elvira also claims that she lost her virginity to singer Tom Jones. She said that he was such an aggressive lover that she required stitches after their encounter. Still, she thought the two of them had a genuine connection and would get married. However, she was disgusted when she went to see him the next night because she found him drooling all over two of his background singers.
9. Modeled For Several Adult Magazines
Back when she still wore her head red, Elvira modeled for men’s magazines. She posed for High Society, Modern Man and Man’s Delight. Although the pics were taken in the 70s, they are just as hot as ever. She has supple, milky white skin and kissable ruddy lips. The only difference in her pics compared to when she was Elvira is that her breasts are more au naturel. Back in the 70s, she wasn’t squeezing them together. She let them hang loose, and showed them off in the shape they were meant to be. And her breasts weren’t the only thing she exposed. Some pics show everything – and we mean everything! And why not? With a body like hers, any girl would want to flaunt her curves.
8. Elvira In 3D
Elvira got her big start in show business as a horror hostess for Movie Macabre. She introduced campy B-movies in the horror genre, and would also appear on-screen to make quips and perform sketches. She wrote much of the material herself. Due to her unconventional looks and bawdy talk, she gained quite a following. Elvira was also the first person to broadcast in 3D… although a more appropriate title might be 3DD! In May 1982, television station KHJ made the first ever 3D TV broadcast. The film was The Mad Magician starring Vincent Price and Eva Gabor. Elvira was the horror hostess for the flick. There was a lot of frenzy around the event, with 3D glasses being available at 7-11 stores. The broadcast was a success, and Elvira became a household name. Later on, Movie Macabre was syndicated so her star continued to shine bright. This led to guest appearances on a variety of television shows. Later on, Elvira was even a horror hostess in Britain.
7. Friends With Pee-Wee Herman
Elvira was part of the improv group “The Groundlings” in L.A. She worked alongside future stars like Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz and Pee-Wee Herman. She even appeared in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure as a biker chick. And if you look carefully at the magic shop in the movie, you’ll see a picture of Elvira at the front entrance. When she made her own movie, she wrote parts in it for her friends from the group. Unfortunately, Hartman and Pee-Wee were unable to appear due to scheduling conflicts. But believe it or not, she’s still tight with Pee-Wee.
Elvira said that her favorite guest spot was definitely in the Pee-Wee movie. However, she did have other great cameos including being a pole dancer on Happy Days and a deaf-mute gypsy on Fantasy Island.
6. Commercial Work
When Elvira wasn’t hosting movies or making appearances, she was a hot commodity in commercials. She sold Coors Light, and informed us that it was the official beer of Halloween. Elvira did this while filming at “Mali-boo Beach.” She partied with Frankenstein, a mummy and other ghouls. The best part was when beer distributors displayed life-sized cardboard cut-outs of her in all her vampy hotness. Elvira also sold Mug root beer on television. She promoted a sweepstakes where customers could enter for a chance to win a night with her at the Universal Studios Bates Motel. Elvira even had a gig with Blockbuster, and urged fans to “make it a Blockbuster night.”
Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t able to parlay her success with commercials into a regular TV gig. But she tried! CBS filmed a pilot starring her, called The Elvira Show. The premise was that Elvira moved to Manhattan, Kansas with her wacky Aunt Minerva (Katherine Helmond). She made a living as a fortune teller, and also sold love potions. Of course, she had romantic misunderstandings with the local cop, Chip.
5. There Are Two Elvira Movies
Elvira starred in her first movie which was aptly titled Elvira, Mistress of the Dark in 1988. Elvira was one of the writers of the comedy-horror film. The premise was that Elvira was a horror hostess who moves to an uptight New England town to claim an inheritance from her aunt. Along the way, she draws the ire of conservatives, befriends a bunch of rowdy teenagers, and discovers that she is a descendant of a powerful witch. It’s campy fun, and is filled with lots of bawdy one-liners – not mention plenty of Elvira’s assets. Unfortunately, the film was not a success as parents’ groups targeted it for being tasteless.
Still, fans clamored for a sequel. Their wish was granted in 2001 when Elvira’s Haunted Hills was released. Elvira wrote it, and financed it. Filmed in Transylvania, it was set in the 1850s. Elvira played a can-can dancer who spent a night at a haunted castle.
4. The Simpsons Spoofed Her
You know that you’ve made it big in Hollywood when you get spoofed by The Simpsons. Such was the case for Elvira. The show featured an Elvira-esque character who went by the name “Boobarella.” Boobarella was featured in several episodes on The Simpsons, and also had a few mentions in the hit series as well. Of course the animators captured her comely physique. She had a big chest, tiny waist, and plump red lips. The character’s voice was a little put-on, though, as it was a corny take on Dracula’s voice. Still, she was a hit with the men. Boobarella dated Duff Man and was ogled by Kent Brockman. Apparently Marge Simpson was even a fan. At one point in time she was afraid that she would die, so she made a list of women that Homer would be permitted to marry – at the end of the list was Boobarella’s name.
3. She Has An Empire
Most fans these days are only aware of Elvira’s movies. However, she created an empire. Elvira had her own line of beer, her own fragrance called “Evil” and her own pinball machine. She sold makeup, and licensed her name and likeness for costumes. The Elvira costume is said to be the highest selling female costume of all time. D.C. Comics gave Elvira her own line of comics, and she appeared in such classics as Elvira’s House of Mystery and Elvira’s Haunted Holiday. There were even Elvira-themed rides.
Of course, Elvira has her own production company called “Queen ‘B’ Productions,” an homage to her connection to B-movies. Elvira has even written several books, which were surprisingly geared toward children. Titles include The Boy Who Cried Werewolf, Camp Vamp and Transylvania 90210. Her current book, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, is a 240 page retrospective detailing her career. Elvira makes most of her money these days making personal appearances during the Halloween season, like at Knotts Berry Farm. Despite her multi-media presence and merchandising, Elvira’s net worth is only $2.5 million.
2. She Had A Reality Show
In 2007, Elvira jumped on the reality show bandwagon and was the star of her own show. It aired on Fox Reality channel, and was called The Search for the Next Elvira. The premise of the show was that she was looking for a lady to impersonate her at events – not because she was retiring. She said, “I do so many appearances every year at Halloween time that there is no way that I can do them all or even a fraction of them, so I take the top 10 gigs that I can make it to and all these other great gigs go begging. I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there were tons of Elviras that we could clone and send out and then take a percentage of their money?’”
Elvira’s requirements weren’t that the girls had to have big chests, because she said one could always get help from gym socks. She wanted the girls to truly love horror films, have a cheesy sense of humor, and be able to French kiss a tarantula.
1. She’s Now A Senior Citizen
Elvira was born in 1951, which makes her 65 years old. It’s hard to believe, since she still has her valley girl spunk – not to mention a killer body. She must’ve made a deal with the devil, because her face is virtually wrinkle-free, her chest is still plump, and her body is taut as ever. She said that the only thing that has changed about her over the years is her hair. Nowadays it isn’t as big or tall as it was in the 80s. Elvira has maintained her physique by being a sometime vegetarian and exercising 30 minutes a day. According to her, nothing scares her except retiring!