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Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark

Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark

by Cassandra Peterson
Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark

Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark

by Cassandra Peterson


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The woman behind the icon known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, the undisputed Queen of Halloween, reveals her full story filled with intimate bombshells—told by the bombshell herself. 

On Good Friday in 1953, at only 18 months old, 25 miles from the nearest hospital in Manhattan, Kansas, Cassandra Peterson reached for a pot on the stove and doused herself in boiling water. Third-degree burns covered 35% of her body, and the prognosis wasn't good. But she survived. Burned and scarred, the impact stayed with her and became an obstacle she was determined to overcome. Feeling like a misfit led to her love of horror. While her sisters played with Barbie dolls, Cassandra built model kits of Frankenstein and Dracula, and idolized Vincent Price.

Due to a complicated relationship with her mother, Cassandra left home at 14, and by age 17 she was performing at the famed Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. Run-ins with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Tom Jones helped her grow up fast. Then a chance encounter with her idol Elvis Presley, changed the course of her life forever, and led her to Europe where she worked in film and traveled Italy as lead singer of an Italian pop band. She eventually made her way to Los Angeles, where she joined the famed comedy improv group, The Groundlings, and worked alongside Phil Hartman and Paul "Pee-wee" Reubens, honing her comedic skills.

Nearing age 30, a struggling actress considered past her prime, she auditioned at local LA channel KHJ as hostess for the late night vintage horror movies. Cassandra improvised, made the role her own, and got the job on the spot. Yours Cruelly, Elvira is an unforgettably wild memoir. Cassandra doesn't shy away from revealing exactly who she is and how she overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. Always original and sometimes outrageous, her story is loaded with twists, travails, revelry, and downright shocking experiences. It is the candid, often funny, and sometimes heart-breaking tale of a Midwest farm girl's long strange trip to become the world's sexiest, sassiest Halloween icon.

Instant New York Times Bestseller, Los Angeles Times Bestseller, USA Today Bestseller, Publishers Weekly Bestseller

A New York Times Best Books to Give This Season selection

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306874352
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 09/21/2021
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 21,032
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Cassandra Peterson was born in Manhattan, Kansas, and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At age 17, she began performing as a showgirl at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas, then traveled to Europe where she pursued a career as a singer and actor. Upon returning to the states, Peterson toured America as star of her own musical-comedy show, Mama’s Boys. She eventually settled in Hollywood, where she spent four years with L.A.’s foremost improvisational comedy group, The Groundlings. In 1981, she auditioned for the part of “horror hostess” on a local Los Angeles station. That show, Movie Macabre, and her newly created character, Elvira, became an overnight sensation and gained national syndication. Peterson also co-wrote, produced, and starred in two feature length films: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark and Elvira’s Haunted Hills. She has spent four decades solidifying her unique brand and building it into an internationally recognized pop culture icon synonymous with Halloween and the horror genre.

Table of Contents

Prologue xi

Chapter 1 Kansas 1

Chapter 2 Colorado Bound 7

Chapter 3 Horror, Holidays, and Hormones 17

Chapter 4 The Virgin Groupie 32

Chapter 5 Life-A-Go-Go 38

Chapter 6 Are You Experienced? 51

Chapter 7 Fear and Lack of Clothing in Las Vegas 58

Chapter 8 Vive Les Girls (It's Showtime!) 65

Chapter 9 Through the Looking Glass 79

Chapter 10 All Shook Up 85

Chapter 11 It's Not Unusual 92

Chapter 12 Rome If You Want To 102

Chapter 13 Arrivederci, Roma 115

Chapter 14 LA Woman 118

Chapter 15 You'll Never Work in This Town Again 135

Chapter 16 Mama's Boys 143

Chapter 17 Do You Believe in Magic? 156

Chapter 18 The Groundlings 161

Chapter 19 A Hollywood Horror Story 168

Chapter 20 Boobs 'n' Beer 194

Chapter 21 Mistress of the Dark 203

Chapter 22 Saturday Night Dead 214

Chapter 23 Hey Swami 217

Chapter 24 Briarcliff Manor or Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? 221

Chapter 25 Livin' in a Haunted House 226

Chapter 26 The Pigeon from Hell 232

Chapter 27 The Elvira Show 237

Chapter 28 Lite a Flame 240

Chapter 29 Hello, Goodbye 244

Chapter 30 Baby Love 248

Chapter 31 Elvira's Haunted Hills 253

Chapter 32 The Hardest Part 261

Chapter 33 Just Like Starting Over 267

Chapter 34 Ch-Ch-Changes 271

Chapter 35 Both Sides Now 275

Epilogue 279

Acknowledgments 283

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