Saturday, February 25, 2012
Big Bust Silver Screen Legends: Elvira aka Cassandra Peterson
Busty Cassandra Peterson, who best known for her on-screen horror host persona "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and graduated from General William J. Palmer High School in 1969. Soon after her graduation she became a showgirl at The Dunes in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also briefly lived In Italy, where she was the lead singer in a rock band and a chance encounter with Federico Fellini led to a small part in his movie Roma (1972). Cassandra and her sexy curves She gained fame on Los Angeles television station KHJ where she was styled wearing a black, gothic, cleavage-enhancing gown as host of Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation. Her wicked vampish appearance was offset by her comical character, quick witted personality and Valley girl-type speech. Although the character of Elvira wears a large black wig, Peterson is a natural redhead. The transformation from Cassandra Peterson to Elvira was so drastic ,that few ever recognized her out of costume. This worked so well that she had a cameo in fellow Groundlings' alumni Paul Reubens' 1985 movie "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" in the role of "Biker Mama".
The Elvira character rapidly gained notoriety with her tight-fitting, low-cut black gown which showed more cleavage than had ever appeared on local Los Angeles television before. The movies featured on Elvira's Movie Macabre were always B grade (or lower). Elvira reclined on a red Victorian couch, introducing and often interrupting the movie to lampoon the actors, the script, and the bad editing. Adopting the flippant tone of a California valley-girl, she brought a satirical, sarcastic edge to her commentary without ever being crass or mean-spirited. Like a macabre Mae West, she reveled in dropping risqué double entendres, as well as making frequent jokes about her eye-popping display of cleavage. In an AOL Entertainment News interview Peterson revealed, "I figured out that Elvira is me when I was a teenager. She's a spastic girl. I just say what I feel and people seem to enjoy it." Her campy humor, obvious sex appeal, and good-natured self-mockery endeared her to late-night movie viewers as her popularity soared. At the same time Elvira was embraced as an icon of the waning 1980s punk movement, as well as the emerging Goth subculture.
The demand for Elvira increased throughout the 1980s. A frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and many other talk shows, she also produced a long-running series of Halloween-themed TV ads for Coors Light Beer and Mug Root Beer (her trademark cleavage was covered up for the Coors campaign). She did guest roles on television dramas such as CHiPs, The Fall Guy, and Fantasy Island, and appeared on numerous awards shows as a presenter. Despite the fact that her success is forever linked to her image as Elvira, Peterson has never been reluctant to make out-of-costume appearances as herself for television interviews and specials.
In 1982 with the surprising success of Movie Macabre, Knott's Theme Parks hired Elvira to replace Seymour as the host of its annual Halloween Haunt during the month of October. Elvira would appear nightly at the park, live on stage with a Halloween-themed musical comedy revue similar to her Mamma's Boys act from the 1970s.
The Elvira character rapidly evolved from obscure cult figure to lucrative brand-name and "Mistress of all Media", spawning countless products throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including Halloween costumes, comic books, action figures, trading cards, pinball machines, Halloween decor, model kits, calendars, perfume, and dolls. She has appeared on the cover of Femme Fatales magazine five times. Her popularity reached its zenith with the release of the feature film, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (co-written by Peterson) in 1988. She also did many non-Elvira character-roles in other films, most notably Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) with friend and fellow Groundling Paul Reubens (as his Pee-wee Herman character), and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1985) starring Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone.
In September 2010 Elvira's Movie Macabre returned to television syndication in the United States, this time with public domain films.
In 1985, Elvira began hosting a video series for Thriller Video. These were films hand-selected by Elvira herself, choosing to stay away from the explicit zombie, cannibal and slasher films of the time, these were generally tamer titles such as The Monster Club and Dan Curtis TV films. She refused to host Make Them Die Slowly and Seven Doors of Death, so the videos were released on the LIVE Home Video label without Elvira's appearance as hostess. Due to the artwork on the big box releases, some of these tapes have become collector's items despite being released on DVD.
Cassandra was chosen for the 2004 Randal Kleiser fantasy movie version of Red Riding Hood. She plays the mother of the hunter and future Baron (Henry Cavill) of the enchanted forest. During a night time encounter, she is swallowed up by the "Wolfie" with supernatural powers, who then transforms into the character of the mother then the father, to try to trick the son of the parents just swallowed.
She has never had any cosmetic surgery or implants to enhance her natural curves.