Yvonne DeCarlo's memoir YVONNE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY is the fourth book I've read and reviewed from my Summer Reading List.
YVONNE, which DeCarlo cowrote with Doug Warren, was published by St. Martin's Press in 1987.
Over the last few years, Yvonne DeCarlo has become one of my favorite actresses. I love the combination of her beauty and sense of humor, and she was also wonderful at playing tougher roles, notably Anna in one of the greatest of all film noir titles, CRISS CROSS (1949). I've also heard various anecdotes indicating that she was a hardworking professional of low ego who was popular with her colleagues on movie sets, and it's always nice to hear that someone admired on film is also "good people" off the screen.
While she touches on the movies made over the course of her career, her many love affairs receive even more attention in the pages of this book; her romances included Ray Milland, Howard Hughes, Howard Duff, and Jock ("Jocko") Mahoney. She writes with particular regret about the end of her romance with Robert Tayor, with whom she was "very compatible." Unfortunately most of her relationships never went anywhere long term; it seems that each time either she or the gentleman in question wasn't ready to commit -- or in the case of Milland, he was already married.
It's all interesting, but honestly, I would have liked to have a greater percentage of the book focus on her film career and the people with whom she worked; for instance, as one example, she made a couple of Westerns with Joel McCrea, but he's only mentioned twice, just in passing.
She tells some good stories about CRISS CROSS, including her casting and an anecdote about working with director Robert Siodmak; I would have liked more such stories.
When it came to one of my favorite DeCarlo films, THE GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST (1949), she seems to have remembered it chiefly for the old-age makeup she wore in a couple of scenes, and the fact that it was where she met Mahoney, who was then a stuntman.
A fun story is that she went on a date with Rory Calhoun in the '40s which was a flop, as Rory didn't talk to her all evening, but they later ended up becoming good friends. When DeCarlo got married around the time of the making of their film RAW EDGE (1956), Calhoun was one of the only people invited to her wedding.
Some of the qualities I like about DeCarlo in many of her onscreen performances come through in the book, including her tenacity, self-deprecation, and love of the great outdoors. It's nice to know that the star of so many Westerns regularly found refuge in Lone Pine, where she eventually made sure her sons learned to fish and enjoy nature.
It's interesting to note that the ebullience which characterizes many of her more lighthearted comedic performances seems to be missing from her real life; she was happy and grateful to be a success and worked hard at each job which came her way, but one feels that it was a bit of a grind for her at times, especially after her stuntman husband, Bob Morgan, suffered a calamitous injury when making HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962).
Perhaps the certain lack of joy one feels reading the book is because her personal life was so often wanting, without a stable long-term relationship. When she finally married stuntman Morgan, the marriage was bumpy, and then became even more challenging after his accident; he lost a leg, and the responsibility for supporting the family fell completely on her shoulders. It was in the years immediately after the accident that she agreed to play Lily Munster.
One can't help wishing, reading Yvonne's story, that somewhere along the way she had been able to balance her career with a durable relationship with a man who would enjoy heading out of Hollywood with her to hike in the Sierras. Alas, it was never quite to be, but she certainly had an interesting life and career, including starring in FOLLIES on Broadway.
YVONNE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY is a hardcover which runs 267 pages, including filmography and index. There are several pages of glossy black and white photographs.
This book was reviewed as part of the 2013 Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge being sponsored by Raquel at her blog, Out of the Past. I appreciate the inspiration Raquel has given me to check several books off my "to be read" list this summer!