Lovely and talented Yvonne DeCarlo was born in Vancouver on this date in 1922.
I never gave a great deal of thought to DeCarlo until a few years ago; I'd grown up knowing her as Lily Munster -- but I was more of an ADDAMS FAMILY fan -- and then I knew her as one of the stars of MCLINTOCK! (1963) which my children watched over and over (and over!) again when they were little.
A few years ago I saw a very good BIOGRAPHY show on DeCarlo's interesting life, which included a background as a dancer and the challenging MUNSTERS years supporting her family after her stuntman husband was seriously injured making HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962).
Around the same time I saw the BIOGRAPHY episode, I saw DeCarlo in BUCCANEER'S GIRL (1950) and was completely charmed by the combination of her beauty and her great sense of humor. Since that time I've been actively seeking out her films.
Amazon Prime. She appeared in a variety of films, from the exotic (SONG OF SCHEHERAZADE and CASBAH) to film noir (BRUTE FORCE and CRISS CROSS) to many, many titles which were part of Universal's "golden era" of Westerns in the late '40s and '50s.
My favorite DeCarlo film seen to date is the Western comedy THE GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST (1949), in which she's trying to decide between Scott Brady and John Russell, while keeping them from killing each other. I like her attitude in the film, which I've read reflects some of the real DeCarlo -- she accepts her beauty as a given, but doesn't take herself too seriously and is very good-natured.
She was teamed with Joel McCrea in the Westerns THE SAN FRANCISCO STORY (1952) and BORDER RIVER (1954), and she also starred in TOMAHAWK (1951), a solid Western costarring Van Heflin. I just saw the latter film last weekend.
Yvonne was chosen by Cecil B. DeMille to appear as Sephora, the wife of Moses, in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956). DeMille's granddaughter, Cecilia, has recounted being in awe of the exquisitely beautiful DeCarlo, and said DeCarlo was an extremely nice and friendly woman.
There are many DeCarlo films I've not yet seen. Unfortunately, a significant number of her '40s Universal films have not been made available to viewers. Hopefully that will change in the future thanks to "manufactured on demand" DVDs and/or streaming.
Happily, some of her films from the late '40s and '50s can be seen thanks to Encore Westerns and Netflix Instant Play. In addition to a couple of the titles already mentioned, Encore has shown BLACK BART (1948) and CALAMITY JANE AND SAM BASS (1949) in recent months. Several more titles can be seen on Netflix.
Additionally, a few of her films are out on DVD; these include some of the aforementioned titles and SEA DEVILS (1953) with Rock Hudson, SHOTGUN (1955) with Sterling Hayden, and BAND OF ANGELS (1957) with Clark Gable.
Yvonne DeCarlo passed away January 8, 2007, at the age of 84, leaving behind over 120 film and TV credits, including all those early bit parts.
I've only begun to explore her films, and I look forward to enjoying many more in the years to come.
CRISS CROSS (1949), SILVER CITY (1951), SEA DEVILS (1953), SHOTGUN (1955), and RAW EDGE (1956).
2013 Update: Here's a link to my review of Yvonne's 1987 memoir, YVONNE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
2014 Update: I've now reviewed BLACK BART (1948).
2015 Update: Here's a review of FLAME OF THE ISLANDS (1956).