PROFILE
Name:
Cassandra Peterson
Birth Date:
September 17, 1949
Birth Place:
Manhattan, Kansas, USA
Height:
5' 7" (1.70 m)
Nationality:
American
Famous for:
Her role in 'Elvira, Mistress of the Dark' (1988)
BIOGRAPHY
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Cassandra Peterson_020612
Mistress of The Dark

Background:

“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.” Cassandra Peterson (recalling her career before 1981).

Naturally red haired actress Cassandra Peterson is famous for her on-screen horror hostess persona Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, which she initially created in early 1980s for a weekly horror movie presentation on Los Angeles television station KHJ called “Movie Macabre.” Since then, Elvira has been featured in countless television and film productions, mincluding the 1988 comedy film “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.” In 2012, Elvira was inducted into the Horror Host Hall of Fame.    

Off screen, Peterson owns a production company in Los Angeles called Queen B Productions. She is a strong supporter of gay rights and animal rights. She is a big fan of Vincent Price, who is also her personal close friend, Roger Corman and Edward D. Wood Jr. Peterson has one daughter from her marriage to Mark Pierson (together from 1981 to 2003).     


Go Go Dancer

Childhood and Family:

Born on September 17, 1951, in Manhattan, Kansas, Cassandra Peterson was raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she attended General William J. Palmer High School. After graduating from high school in 1969, Cassandra, who worked as a go go dancer in a local gay bar during her teens, moved to Las Vegas to pursue her childhood ambition as a dancer. She recalled, “I always wanted to be a dancer, ever since I saw Ann-Margret in 'Viva Las Vegas.'”

Cassandra was married to Mark Pierson from July 4, 1981 until February 1, 2003, when they divorced. The marriage produced one daughter, Sadie, who was born in 1991.


Movie Macabre

Career:

Kansas-born, Colorado-raised Cassandra Peterson, who was inspired to become a dancer after watching Ann-Margret in 1964’s “Viva Las Vegas,” traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, just days after graduating from high school, and at age 17, she made a name for herself for being the Las Vegas' youngest showgirl. When Elvis Presley saw her performing, he encouraged Peterson to pursue a singing career. Peterson then toured Europe extensively as the lead vocalist of an Italian rock band and eventually stayed in Rome. In Italy, she met noted filmmaker Federico Fellini, who landed her a bit part in his classic film, “Fellini's Roma“(1972). 

Returning to the United States, Peterson toured national club circuit with her own nightclub review, “Mama's Boys,” and in 1979, she joined the Los Angeles-based improvisational troupe, The Groundlings, which also produced prominent stars like Phil Hartman, Pee Wee Herman, Jon Lovitz and Julia Sweeney. During this period, she honed her comedic talents as both a performer and writer and also created a Valley girl-type character upon whom the Elvira persona mostly is based.

After small parts in “Cheech & Chong's Next Movie” (1980), “Coast to Coast” (1980) and “King of the Mountain” (1981), Peterson enjoyed a big breakthrough when she won a horror host position for KHJ TV LA  show, “Movie Macabre,” for which she created the adroit Valley-girl-type character named Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She remained with the show from 1981 to 1984.

The Elvira character quickly gained notoriety, thanks to her tight-fitting, low-cut black gown, which showed ample cleavage. Subsequently, Elvira appeared in guest roles in many TV series such as “CHiPs” (1982-1983), “Fantasy Island” (1983), “The Richard Simmons Show” (1983), “The Fall Guy” (1984-1985), “Just Say Julie” (1989) and “Totally Hidden Video,” as well as appeared on television movies “Last of the Great Survivors” (1984), “Get Out of My Room” (1985), “Bob Hope Buys NBC?” (1985) and “Elvira's Halloween Special” (1986). Apart from the Elvira character, Peterson also took on various roles in movies such as the Jerry Belson directed science fiction movie “Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again “ (1982), “The Sting II” (1983), “Stroker Ace” (1983), “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985), “Balboa” (1986), “Echo Park” (1986), “Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold” (1987) and “Pledge Night” (1988).      The popularity of Elvira persona reached its peak with the release of the motion picture “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” in 1988. Co-written by Peterson and directed byJames Signorelli, the film was a commercial failure by grossing $5,596,267 at the box office against a budget of $7.5 million. The film was nominated for a 1990 International Fantasy Film Award  for Best Film, while Peterson herself receiving a Saturn nomination for Best Actress and a Razzie nomination Worst Actress for her performance.           

Peterson continued to make personal appearances as the Mistress of the Dark in numerous TV shows like “Just Say Julie” (1989), “Parker Lewis” (1992), “Strange Universe” (1996), “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” (1996), “Nash Bridges” (1997), “The RuPaul Show”  (1998) and “The Girls Next Door” (2006) as well as in film productions, including  “Heavy Metal Heaven” (1989), “The Elvira Show” (1993), “Attack of the Killer B-Movies” (1995, TV), “The Ketchup Vampires” (1995), “Superstition” (1997, short), “Encounter in the Thrid Dimension” (1999, short), “Elvira’s Haunted Hills” (2001) and “Scares & Dares” (2001, TV). Outside of Elvira, the actress portrayed Lisa in the film “Ted & Venus” (1991), Roxy in the TV film “Acting on Impulse” (1993) and Mary Mulders in the short film “Tomoko's Kitchen” (2006).

In 2006, Peterson announced she would be searching a few good “Elviras” through a reality television program. This announcement was interpreted by some as her retirement. Therefore, later that year in October, she clarified the rumor by saying that she wanted to find other people to play the role, so that the character could appear at the multitude of personal appearance requests. “The Search for the Next Elvira,” which Peterson created with Eric Gardner, premiered on Fox Reality on October 13, 2007, with Elvira serving as the judge along with Christian Greenia (as Himself / “Manvira”), Patterson Lundquist (as Himself / “Manvira”), and Kane Hodder (former portrayer of horror movie icon, Jason Voorhees) and Rick Baker(six time Academy Award-winning special effects make-up artist) as guest judges. The eventual winner April Wahlin made a few appearances during Peterson's one-year “reign” from October 31, 2007 to October 31, 2008.

Peterson reprised her role as Elvira in the comedy/thriller movie “Her Morbid Desires” (2008), directed by Edward L. Plumb, and in the direct to video “The Scream” (2009), starring Melissa Bacelar, J.C. Taylor and Heidi Martinuzzi. In 2010, “Elvira's Movie Macabre” returned to television syndication in the United States, this time with public-domain films. The same year, Peterson also played the role of Linda in the comedy/horror film “All About Evil,” opposite Natasha Lyonne and Thomas Dekker.

In 2011, Peterson guest starred as Elvira in the television series “Last Man Standing”  (the episode “Last Halloween Standing”) and “The Marilyn Denis Show” (the episode “Halloween Spook-tacular “).  


Awards:

Los Angeles Silver Lake Film Festival: Spirit of Silver Lake Award  Show Less

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