Horror icon Cassandra Peterson — recognized worldwide for her hostess character ‘Elvira, Mistress of the Dark’ which, over three decades, has become synonymous with Halloween and the horror genre — discusses her unique career, shares behind-the-scenes stories and answers fan questions at her 2015 Niagara Falls Comic Con Q&A panel.
Cassandra Peterson (Born September 17th, 1951) is an American actress and singer who began her career at age 17 as the youngest showgirl in Las Vegas history in the show “Vive Les Girls” at the Dunes Hotel. After receiving advice from “The King” himself, Elvis Presley, she traveled to Europe where she pursued a career as a singer and actor. She worked in several Italian films, including Federico Fellini’s “Roma” (1972) and performed throughout Europe as lead singer of an Italian rock band. Upon her return to the United States, Peterson toured the country as star of her own musical-comedy show “Mama’s Boys.” She eventually settled in Hollywood, where she spent over four years with L.A.’s foremost improvisational comedy group, The Groundlings.
In 1981, Peterson auditioned for the role of ‘horror hostess’ on local Los Angeles television station KHJ-TV. Her newly created character ‘Elvira, Mistress of the Dark’ wore a revealing, black, gothic, cleavage-enhancing gown on her weekly horror movie presentation “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” (1981-1986 and 2010-2011). Needless to say, both her wickedly vampish character and her show became overnight sensations. Peterson reprised the concept in 2014 with a TV miniseries “13 Nights of Elvira” leading up to Halloween. In addition to co-writing and performing in both the local L.A. and nationally syndicated television versions of “Movie Macabre,” she co-wrote, produced and starred in two related feature films, “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” (1988) and “Elvira’s Haunted Hills” (2001), and produced, wrote and starred in the Fox reality TV series “The Search for the Next Elvira” (2007).
In real life, Cassandra Peterson is comical, quirky and quick-witted with a ‘Valley girl’ vernacular. She has used Elvira’s celebrity status to bring attention to many worthy causes and organizations over the years, including her well-known work for animal welfare and raising money and awareness for the prevention of HIV/AIDS. She continues to work in various film, television and video game projects, including several recurring voice roles in the animated TV series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (2013-2017).