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Yours Cruelly, Elvira

Cover: 'Yours Cruelly, Elvira'

Staff Review: "Yours Cruelly, Elvira" by Cassandra Peterson

★★★★★

You probably don’t know the name “Cassandra Peterson” yet she’s likely someone you’ve seen numerous times over the last several decades on TV, in movies or in advertisements, especially around Halloween.

Peterson is better known as her alter ego Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She first rose to fame in the early 1980s after adopting her stage personae and becoming the host of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, which was originally broadcast in the greater Los Angeles area before being syndicated and airing nationwide. As Elvira, Peterson hosted weekly airings of campy, horror B movies and became known for her low-cut, revealing black wardrobe, large beehive hairdo and crass, sarcastic wit. She eventually went on to star in movies of her own and became a “brand” of sorts, with her likeness being licensed for use for calendars, dolls, clothing, Halloween decorations and more.

Prior to becoming famous, Peterson grew up in a somewhat strict household in a small, rural Kansas town. As a teen, she started booking gigs as a go-go dancer at various clubs and before she even turned 18, Peterson got hired a Las Vegas showgirl. An aspiring actress, she eventually left Vegas and performed in various traveling shows (and even in Italian cinema!) before joining the L.A.-based comedy group The Groundlings, where she honed her comedic chops and created early versions of the Elvira character.

Yours Cruelly, Elvira was a deliciously entertaining read, opening the door to the woman behind Elvira and recounting the life experiences that shaped the person (and personae) she became. Many stories detailed in the memoir featured Peterson’s run-ins with celebrities like Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Wilt Chamberlain and Brad Pitt. Some of these anecdotes were shocking, others heartbreaking and others laughter-inducing, but all were gripping. If you’re a horror movie fan, a pop culture nut or just enjoy reading memoirs, this book by the Queen of Halloween is for you.  

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, biography and memoir

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