Elvira – Cassandra Peterson

CASSANDRA

Cassandra Peterson Elvira’s alter ego, Cassandra Peterson, was born in Manhattan, Kansas and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cassandra remembers being mesmerized by Ann-Margret. “I always wanted to be a dancer, ever since I saw Ann-Margret in ‘Viva Las Vegas’.” Just days after graduating from high school, Cassandra fled to Vegas where, at the age of 17, she became the youngest showgirl in Las Vegas history.

Cassandra’s desire to emulate Ann-Margret led to an evening with the legendary Elvis Presley, who saw her perform and encouraged her to pursue a singing career. Off to Europe, Cassandra toured extensively as lead singer for an Italian rock band. Eventually settling in Rome, where she became fluent in Italian, Cassandra met renowned director, Federico Fellini, who cast her in his classic film, “Fellini’s Roma”.

Returning stateside, Cassandra formed her own nightclub review, “Mama’s Boys”, which toured the national club circuit. In the late 70’s, she joined the satiric improvisational troupe, The Groundlings, which also produced such notables as Phil Hartman, Pee Wee Herman, Jon Lovitz and Julia Sweeney. There she honed her now renowned comedic skills as both a writer and performer.

Film and television appearances such as “Cheech And Chong’s Next Movie”, “Fantasy Island”, “Happy Days” and “St. Elsewhere” followed, but Cassandra recalls, “I was your typical struggling actress. I went to every audition, took a million acting, dancing and singing lessons and spent years wondering where my next meal was coming from.”

It was the fall of 1981, with the birth of her character, Elvira, that it all changed. While she has since played herself in many film and television shows including “Echo Park”, “Alan Quartermain” and “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”, Cassandra Peterson ultimately combines her numerous talents into an intriguing persona which has not only become a Halloween icon, but a “vamp” for all seasons.

Extra credit: Peterson is a longtime supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); in a much-publicized 1991 incident, she turned down an offer to perform as an elephant trainer in the TV extravaganza Circus of the Stars.

Elvira 2Quotes

  • “At least I get my little black dress cleaned once in awhile.” [When asked about the fact that Monica Lewinsky liked to compare with her, 1998.]
  • “I was your typical struggling actress. I went to every audition, took a million acting, dancing and singing lessons, and spent years wondering where my next meal was coming from.” Recalling her career before 1981.

Past Films & Videos Year
Tomoko’s Kitchen – Mary Mulders2006
Red Riding Hood – Hunter’s Mom2004
Elvira’s Haunted Hills – Elvira, Mistress of the Dark/Lady Elura Hellsubus (as Elvira), Writer (character) (written by), Soundtrack (performer: “Le Music Hall”)2001
Encounter in the Thrid Dimension (short) – Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Soundtrack (performer: “Haunted House”), Singer (“Haunted House”) (as Elvira)1999
Superstition (short) – Elvira1997
It’s My Party – Party Guest (uncredited)1996
Ted and Venus – Lisa1991
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark – Elvira/(Aunt) Morgana Talbot, Writer (written by), Soundtrack (performer: “Elvira Rap”)1988
Pledge Night – Party Girl1988
Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold – Sorais1987
Echo Park – Sheri1986
Wrestlemania 2 (video) – Elvira1986
Balboa – Angie Stoddard1986
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – Biker Mama1985
Get Out of My Room – Elvira(segment “Born in East L.A.”) (as Elvira)1985
Uncensored (video) – Skit characters1984
Stroker Ace – Girl with Lugs1983
The Sting II – O’Malley’s Girl1983
Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again – Busty Nurse1982
King of the Mountain – Neighbor1981
Coast to Coast – Dinner Party Guest1980
Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie – Hostage1980
The Working Girls – Katya1974
Fellini’s Roma – Actress (uncredited)1972
Past Television;Year
Scares & Dares (TV movie) – Elvira2001
Bride of Monster Mania (TV documentary) – Herself (as Elvira), Special Thanks2000
Attack of the 50 Foot Monster Mania (TV documentary) – Herself (as Elvira), Special Thanks1999
The RuPaul Show (TV series) – Elvira (1 episode, 1998)
   Episode dated 7 April 1998 – Elvira1998
Nash Bridges (TV series) – Frankie (1 episode, 1997)
   Sniper – Frankie (as Elvira)1997
Space Ghost Coast to Coast (TV series) – Elvira (1 episode, 1996)
   Switcheroo – Elvira1996
Strange Universe (TV series) – Elvira (1 episode)
   Episode dated 15 February 1996 – Elvira
Attack of the Killer B-Movies (TV movie) – Elvira1995
Eyes of a Stranger (TV movie) – Roxy1993
The Elvira Show (TV series) – Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Producer1993
Ring of the Musketeers (TV movie) – Jennifer1992
Parker Lewis (TV series) – Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1 episode, 1992)
   Boy Meets Girl II – Elvira, Mistress of the Dark1992
Totally Hidden Video (TV series) – Elvira (1 episode, 1989)
   Episode dated 31 October 1989 – Elvira1989
Just Say Julie (TV series) – Elvira (1 episode, 1989)
   Episode dated 17 March 1989 – Elvira1989
Heavy Metal Heaven (TV series) – Elvira1989
Saturday Night Live (TV series) – Elvira (1 episode, 1987)
   Episode #13.3 – Elvira1987
The Fall Guy (TV series) – Elvira (2 episodes, 1984-1985)
   October the 32nd – Elvira1985
   October the 31st – Elvira1984
Bob Hope Buys NBC? (TV movie) – Elvira, Mistress of the Dark1985
Movie Macabre (TV series) – Elvira (2 episodes, 1983-1985), Associate Producer (2 episodes, 1983-1985), Writer (1 episode, 1985)
   Doomsday Machine – Elvira, Writer, Associate Producer1985
   The Werewolf of Washington – Elvira, Associate Producer1983
Last of the Great Survivors (TV movie) – Elvira1984
The Richard Simmons Show (TV series) – Elvira (1 episode, 1983)
   Episode dated October 1983 – Elvira1983
Fantasy Island (TV series) – Esther / Ptatateetah (2 episodes, 1978-1983)
   God Child/Curtain Call – Esther1983
   The Sheikh/The Homecoming – Ptatateetah1978
St. Elsewhere (TV series) – Judy (1 episode, 1983)
   Ties That Bind – Judy1983
Alice (TV series) – Monique (1 episode, 1983)
   Mel’s Dream Car – Monique1983
CHiPs (TV series) – Elvira (2 episodes, 1982-1983)
   Things That Go Creep in the Night – Elvira1983
   Rock Devil Rock – Elvira1982
The Paragon of Comedy (TV movie) – Actress1983
Open All Night (TV series) – Taffy (1 episode, 1981)
   Episode dated 19 August 1981 – Taffy1981
Happy Days (TV series) – Girl (1 episode, 1979)
   Burlesque – Girl1979
Fright Night (TV series) – Elvira1970

Trivia

  • Big fan of Vincent Price, Roger Corman and Edward D. Wood Jr.
  • Close friend of Vincent Price
  • Strong supporter of gay rights
  • Sometimes credited as “Cassandra Petersen”
  • First woman who did a music video in 3D (“Superstition”)
  • Favourite movies: Plan 9 from Outer Space and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!.
  • #1 of Sci-Fi’s Sexiest B-Queens, by Femme Fatales magazine [1997]
  • Owns a production company in Los Angeles called Queen B Productions. She merchandises Elvira products.
  • Pentagon named a Stealth computer system “Elvira” inspired by her.
  • Strong supporter of animal rights
  • Attended Palmer High School, Colorado Springs, Colorado; graduated in class of 1966.
  • Once was a complete vegetarian, now eats dairy plus chicken and fish.
  • Daughter, Sadie born. [1991]
  • In 2002, she licensed the name and likeness of “Elvira” to International Game Technologies for use in an Elvira-themed video slot machine.
  • In 1996, she licensed the “Elvira” name and likeness to Midway Manufacturing (a division of WMS Gaming) for the “Scared Stiff” pinball game.
  • Measurements: 34-21-34 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
  • Has hosted the Halloween themed Knott’s Scary Farm amusement park in Buena Park, California from 1982 – 2001.
  • Was scalded by boiling water when she was five years old. Underwent seventeen skin grafting operations over the course of her childhood to repair the scar tissue. Now covers some of her remaining scars (around neck and shoulders) with make-up or clothing.
  • Is a natural redhead.
  • Although she has appeared in nude layouts, she has never appeared nude as the Elvira character.
  • Maila Nurmi, the original Vampira, unsuccessfully tried to sue Cassandra Peterson for stealing her act.


Comment on Elvira


Posted in Celebrity Profile and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .