Elvira’s alter ego, Cassandra Peterson, was born in Manhattan, Kansas and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cassandra remembers being mesmerized by Ann-Margret. “I always wanted to be a dancer, ever since I saw Ann-Margret in ‘Viva Las Vegas‘.” Just days after graduating from high school, Cassandra fled to Vegas where, at the age of 17, she became the youngest showgirl in Las Vegas history.
Cassandra’s desire to emulate Ann-Margret led to an evening with the legendary Elvis Presley, who saw her perform and encouraged her to pursue a singing career. Off to Europe, Cassandra toured extensively as lead singer for an Italian rock band. Eventually settling in Rome, where she became fluent in Italian, Cassandra met renowned director, Federico Fellini, who cast her in his classic film, “Fellini’s Roma“.
Returning stateside, Cassandra formed her own nightclub review, “Mama’s Boys“, which toured the national club circuit. In the late 70’s, she joined the satiric improvisational troupe, The Groundlings, which also produced such notables as Phil Hartman, Pee Wee Herman, Jon Lovitz and Julia Sweeney. There she honed her now renowned comedic skills as both a writer and performer.
Film and television appearances such as “Cheech And Chong’s Next Movie“, “Fantasy Island“, “Happy Days” and “St. Elsewhere” followed, but Cassandra recalls, “I was your typical struggling actress. I went to every audition, took a million acting, dancing and singing lessons and spent years wondering where my next meal was coming from.”
It was the fall of 1981, with the birth of her character, Elvira, that it all changed. While she has since played herself in many film and television shows including “Echo Park“, “Alan Quartermain” and “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure“, Cassandra Peterson ultimately combines her numerous talents into an intriguing persona which has not only become a Halloween icon, but a “vamp” for all seasons.