For as long as any fan of Halloween can remember, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, has been ushering in bad horror movies to new generations. Her style can best be described as sexy goth or sassy dark, and she introduces every movie with the comedic timing of a seasoned standup. Thankfully, she's still spreading the good word of schlocky movies, and she still looks great doing it. Is she immortal? How old was Cassandra Peterson when she first played Elvira?
How old was Cassandra Peterson when she played Elvira for the first time?
In 1981, producers of the show Fright Night (not the movie) wanted to bring the format of the show back. Its original host, Larry Vincent, had died six years earlier. Basically, the host introduces low-budget science-fiction and horror movies while shamelessly ridiculing them the entire time. It was kind of like Mystery Science Theater 3000 before Mystery Science Theater 3000. The only difference this time, they wanted a lady to host it.
Elvira, who was 30 at the time, responded to a casting call. The producers gave her no instructions regarding what they were looking for, so it was left entirely up to Cassandra to create the character. Initially, she was leaning towards Sharon Tate's look in The Fearless Vampire Killers, but the producers didn't think that was appropriate. Soon she landed on the vixen we know and love today.
What is Elvira up to today?
Cassandra recently wrote a memoir titled Yours Cruelly, Elvira, in which she opened up about a lot of personal things she had been keeping locked up for most of her life. In the book, she shares her first horror movie experience, which was House on Haunted Hill starring horror daddy Vincent Price. This led to a deep love of horror movies that would influence her creation of the Elvira persona.
In 2021, she celebrated the 40th birthday of the wicked birth of Elvira, which coincided with the book's release. One of the most complicated aspects of her life she had difficulty keeping to herself was her 19-year relationship with her former trainer, who is a woman. In an interview with Daily News, Cassandra said she's glad to have it out there, but it still worries her. "I have moments where I go, ‘Maybe people won’t like me anymore’ and ‘Maybe I won’t get work anymore,'" she explained.
This anxiety isn't completely unfounded. Cassandra went on to say she has gay friends whose lives and work were affected after they came out of the closet. However, it's good to be free of the secret, she said, because "it’s not good for you, it’s not good for us. It sucks the energy out of you.”
When discussing her horror hero Vincent Price, Cassandra had nothing but lovely things to say about him to the Daily News. “He was so funny and the most charming man I have ever met," she admitted. She lovingly spoke about how much he enjoyed cooking and once taught her how to properly cook fish. "‘You know you can cook fish in your dishwasher by wrapping it in tin foil then washing the dishes. Just make sure it’s really sealed so no water gets in and when it’s done, you have a delicious meal.'"