Yvonne De Carlo is popping up everywhere these days. Last week, she made a cameo in Fox's "Here Come the Munsters." This Saturday, she plays an eccentric Norma Desmond lookalike who "monkey-sits" a chimp named Archie in "The Barefoot Executive," premiering Saturday on ABC.
Based on the popular 1971 Disney comedy, "The Barefoot Executive" stars Jason London as a young network TV employee hoping for his big break out of the mail room. His ticket to the executive suite is his girlfriend's (Terri Ivens) pet chimp Archie who has the uncanny knack of predicting top-rated TV shows. The satire was directed by Susan Seidelman of "Desperately Seeking Susan" fame.
Though her part is small, De Carlo, 73, says she had a great time monkeying around in "The Barefoot Executive."
"She is a woman who used to be a stand-in for movie people," De Carlo says of her character. "There are still people who live back in the '30s. I have known people like her. She has these outrageous costumes--six of them--and it's just a small part. But I like to do small things now."
Among them was her recent cameo in "Here Come the Munsters" in which she was reunited with the stars of the 1964-65 CBS series, Al Lewis, Pat Priest and Butch Patrick. (Fred Gwynne died in 1993.) But this time around, De Carlo wasn't decked out in her Lily Munster outfit and makeup.
"We didn't have to be in costumes because the Munsters have several lives," she explains. "So they are in sort of modern clothes. I was sort of resentful when Pat Priest yelled at me, 'I haven't seen you for 30 years!' I said, 'Why don't you shut up! Thirty years, for god's sake.' She was right. But I am not very good at facing that sort of fact of 30 years. Fifteen sounds awful long to me."
After 50 years in the business, De Carlo took a year off from acting. "For a while there I didn't want to work. I think I got burned out. All of a sudden, I didn't have any more interest in any of that. I took a break." But now she has an agent. "I have somebody who is really getting me in there and finding me things. I pick what I want. I'm back in the mood, obviously. What I should do actually is the voice-over thing. My voice is somehow recognizable even to clerks and people on the phone."
De Carlo lives north of Los Angeles near Solvang. "Not in the Danish Disneyland, but up on a hill," she says, laughing. "It's really nice. I have a view and a pool and I lived for 12 years without any cable. Now I have cable. It's quite interesting. Imagine someone living with only two stations all that time. I have a huge library of movies and documentaries."
Now, she watches her movies on cable. "I saw those Technicolor [movies,]" she says. "I wondered how in the world I could dance like that. All that hard work. Oh, my."
She's never been able to find herself, though, in a nightclub scene in 1943's "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
"I know I sat for days and days on the set talking with the director, Sam Wood. He was so nice. He put me in a chair next to his, and Gary Cooper came by and talked. I think they just stuck me in there as atmosphere."
De Carlo came to fame in the late '40s at Universal Studios. "Burt Lancaster, Howard Duff and Ava Gardner--we were all there together at the beginning of our careers when [producer] Mark Hellinger was there at Universal."
It was Hellinger, she says, who was responsible for her being cast as the femme fatale opposite Burt Lancaster in 1949's "Criss Cross."
"Burt didn't want me," De Carlo says. 'I guess he had somebody else in mind." Though Hellinger died before the film went into production "his wishes were observed. Isn't that something? He believed in me. He just thought I was going to be a star. Before that picture I was not."
De Carlo also starred on Broadway in the 1971 Stephen Sondheim musical, "Follies," for which she received a Tony nomination for best featured actress in a musical. De Carlo sang the now-classic standard, "'I'm Still Here."
"He wrote it for me," De Carlo says with enthusiasm. "Just for me!"
"The Barefoot Executive" airs Saturday at 9 p.m. on ABC; repeats of "The Munsters" air Sundays at 2:30 a.m.; Mondays at 1 a.m. and weeknights at 8 on Nickelodeon.