Elvira, Mistress of the Dark - Elvira (played by
Cassandra Peterson) was the raven-haired hostess of KHJ-TV Channel 9's weekend
horror show "Movie Macabre" from 1981-1993.
This "Mistress of the Dark," described by film critic Robert Ebert as a
"cross between Mae West and Vampirella," hosted the worst in "B" minus horror
movies and the best in female anatomy...namely Elvira's.
Elvira wore a skintight black dress reminiscent of the one worn by Morticia
(Carolyn Jones) of THE ADDAMS FAMILY/ABC/1964-66 but with more cleavage and leg
showing -- a true public relations device which no doubt accounted for her many
bug-eyed viewers (Psst! she wears a metal-framed push-up bra).
Describing herself as a cross between Vincent Price and Mae West (or Ann
Margaret and E.T.) Elvira delighted in poking fun at her weekly horror movies
and attacking everything from the abilities of the actors, directors, low budget
scripts, and scenery.
Additional members of her cast included Breather (John Paragon) as a greasy
fellow who telephoned Elvira during her show and carried on bizarre
conversations; Auntie Virus, Elvira's grey-haired relative (Eve Smith), a spunky
little old lady from Pasadena who tried to steal the spotlight from her
attractive niece; and Attilla, the program director who threaded up such
cinematic gems as Beware! The Blob (1972), and The Werewolf of
To start off the program Elvira would say something like:
- "Hello, Darling. It's me Elvira, the girl with the zonkers
that will drive you bonkers"
- "The girl with the curves that will rattle your nerves"
- "The girl who put the "bra" back in the word bravo"
At program's end, she signed off by looking seductively at the camera and saying
"Unpleasant Dreams." In the 1982 edition of her fan newsletter, The Elvira
Examiner we discovered that Elvira was born near her mother; her sign was
"Stop"; she was tall enough to reach the floor; heavy enough to fill her
costume; and when a fan asked her if "They were real?" she responded "Of course,
they're real, Darling, these are my real nails. Did you think they were made of
silicone?" Her turn offs included dwarves in bad moods and scientists with
Cassandra Peterson, the gorgeous redhead, who played Elvira, was a former rock
singer, Las Vegas Showgirl, and member of the Los Angeles comedy troupe, The
Groundlings (which spawned the likes of Pee Wee Herman and Saturday Night Live's
Laraine Newman). Peterson was hired as Elvira for her T & A...talent and
Elvira was the successor of another Channel 9 horror show host from the 1970s
known as "Seymour, the epitome of evil, the most sinister man to crawl the face
of the earth." and "Grimsley," the lovable vampire-mortician. Elvira debuted in
Los Angeles in the fall of 1981 and has since been featured in the 1984 FALL GUY
Halloween Special on ABC and displayed her wax likeness in the Movieland Wax
On March 9, 1984 Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles proclaimed Elvira Day.
In 1987, Elvira became the first woman to be spokesperson for Coors beer
Elvira character has spun-off numerous merchandising including a line of cosmetics featuring
black fingernail polish; a perfume named "Evil"; and florescent-green hair spray; a line of horror
videocassettes; her own comic series "Elvira's
House of Mystery"; a line of Elvira greeting cards (one sample card with a snake at Elvira's cleavage read:
"Fangs for the mammaries"); an "Elvira
and the Party Monsters" pinball machine; the fantasy role playing adventure computer game
"Elvira: Accolade"; and starring roles in her own theatrical motion
Mistress of the Dark (1988) and Elvira's
On September 2, 1995, Elvira hosted "Attack of the Killer B Movies" on NBC which
spoofed edited versions of classic sci-fi movies The Wasp Woman (1960),
Killers From Space (1954), Monster from Green Hell (1957) and
The Navy Verses the Night Monsters (1966).
In 1997, Peterson opened Elvira's Nightmare Haunted House in Atlanta.
Still in popular demand, Elvira travels the world promoting the horror movie
venue in places like the Cannes Film Festival.
In 2006, Peterson
announced her intent to retire her role which inspired the FOX network reality
original series THE SEARCH FOR THE NEXT ELVIRA (2007).
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