Cassandra Peterson is the person behind pop culture icon Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. And as the horror hostess, she’s known for her gothic, all-black and rather risqué look. But Peterson’s got quite a different aesthetic from Elvira, as it happens, meaning Elvira’s appearance had to be created from scratch. And, in fact, the story of how the actress came to embody her role is a fascinating one.
Even so, Elvira was never intended to become an enduring character; it was all a matter of fate. In 1981 a revival of the ’50s The Vampira Show was in progress, but its original hostess Maila Nurmi quit the project after producers rejected her suggestion for the lead role. So, the showmakers sent out a casting call for their leading lady – and among the hopefuls vying for a shot was Peterson.