This month’s Geek You Should Know is Cassandra Peterson. Name doesn’t ring a bell? Peterson is better known as the TV personality Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Originally from Kansas, Peterson grew up in Colorado, but left for Las Vegas just days after finishing high school. After working as a show girl at The Dunes, Peterson began acting in small parts—including one in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. Finally, in 1981, the role Cassandra was born to play arrived when a Los Angles TV station wanted to revive its late night horror movie show. Although she was not their first choice for a host, Peterson and her persona Elvira were a perfect fit. Thus was born Elvira’s Movie Macabre.
Elvira and yours truly. Phoenix Comicon 2011
Elvira is a geek superstar. She is a regular at conventions and I know from personal experience that she still draws a crowd. Although she was a little late to the signing I was at (with that outfit, who can blame her), she was incredibly nice and apologetic for her late arrival. She may be small of stature, but she has a massive personality.
For many people, Elvira was the introduction to the world of late night B movies. Not only did Elvira host the movies on her show, but she often provided a running commentary as her sarcastic, valley girl character. In fact, Elvira was mocking movies well before MST3K came around. Elvira has been featured in comics (a mind blowing 166 issues!), two motion pictures, games, calendars, and even pinball machines. It’s even rumored that Cassandra is the model posing on the cover of Tom Waits’ Small Change album. It does look quite a bit like her. In 2010, Peterson revived Movie Macabre and began to release public domain films on DVD with her commentary.
My personal Elvira, Mistress of the Dark one sheet.