For four decades now, Cassandra Peterson has brought camp, humor, and glamor to the world as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Starting out as a local horror movie hostess in Los Angeles, she quickly became a fixture of nationally syndicated TV. Then, a movie star, and later a true licensing juggernaut. There are almost no products that haven’t had a special “Elvira Edition” over the past 40 years.
But while there have been Elvira action figures in the past as part of her licensing empire, this newest deluxe figure from NECA is easily the best one yet. The figure’s debut is part of the Haul-a-Thon collector’s event from NECA and Target, featuring a variety of high-end nerdy collectibles. We got the chance to chat with Cassandra Peterson about her long-awaited ultimate 8″ Elvira action figure, and her 40th anniversary as the Queen of Halloween.
Nerdist: You’ve had a lot of toys of yourself made in the past, but NECA’s Standard Edition and Special Edition figures look the most like Elvira that we’ve seen so far. How excited are you about this new figure and the whole Haul-A-Thon event?
Cassandra Peterson: I am super, super excited about this figure. This is the action figure that I have wanted since I started being Elvira. You can look it up online if you want to see the action figures that I got. They weren’t that great. The first one was truly frightening, I called it “the ugly Troll doll.” And the second one, it had a decent sculpt. It didn’t look as much like me as it could have. But this one, it’s articulated, it has real cloth clothing and the dagger. And it has the extra head. So this one is the premiere, ultimate dream Elvira action figure.
The accessories for this figure really evoke the Elvira: Mistress of the Dark movie more than any other media you’ve appeared in. Was that on purpose?
Yeah, you might be right about that. We talked about different things. You know, the Mistress of the Dark movie is always in the background. But we didn’t really base it on that. But then, there weren’t that many little things we could have pulled from my Movie Macabre show actually. Because basically, I was on a sofa. That was the prop. But, we did talk about doing more down the line. So if this is successful, who knows? Maybe Elvira will have her own little toy world going on.
How involved in the design process for the figure were you?
I was very involved. Looking at the face, looking at the hair, the dress. Correcting things, adding things, making comments about everything. I think they did a fantastic job in the end. It just looks amazing. I did not imagine they’d get so much detail in the costume. And they did a spectacular job on the face. Certainly, the best I’ve ever had done.
What’s your favorite detail on the figure that might surprise die hard Elvira fans?
For me, I just love that it comes with the little dagger that slides in and out of the belt. And it’s got a little holster there. I’m most impressed with that. And I love the face. But the extra winking face, that was my favorite. I know the main face is the more straightforward “Elvira face,” but I’m so glad we got to add the additional winking face. Because that’s very Elvira.
When we think Elvira, we usually think of you winking to us and waving goodbye.
There ya go! Pose my hands up next to face, have me wave goodbye! There has to be nine hundred billion pictures of me like that.
You’ve just celebrated 40 years of Elvira, and you released your autobiography to celebrate, which is a fantastic read. What has been the most wonderful response you’ve had since releasing Yours Cruelly, Elvira?
Oh my gosh, the best response is that I’ve received many, many offers to do a documentary based on the book. And that is currently what I’m working on. I have some really great people working with me on it. Which I cannot divulge yet, unfortunately. I am more excited about the documentary based on the book than the actual book. Because I’m much more visual. So I can’t wait to see that. And I have so many years, 40 to be exact, of photos and things that nobody has ever seen. So this is going to be a very fun project.
One of our favorite stories in the book is how you kept putting off the Elvira auditions until you finally went and got the part. Do you ever wonder what your life path would have been like had you blown off that last audition?
Oh my god, I talk about in the book how I was going to quit show business. All because I’d lost the part of Ginger in the Gilligan’s Island remake. That was just devastating to me, and I was going to leave the business after being in it for like 30 years. And my “real job” was going to be taking artist portfolios around, like for advertising. Making one-sheets for films and all that. Which, I would have been out of a job now, because they just don’t do that anymore. But I would have been horrible at doing that. I can’t even imagine.
It was just a miracle that after my honeymoon, I got the call and they still had found nobody to play the part. It was pretty hard to find a horror host. They put out an ad in the LA Times, and they had every girl off the street showing up, honestly. And people who weren’t necessarily actors. A “look” is one thing, but if you can’t read a teleprompter well? Good luck. I was also one of the few actors who were so desperate that they were willing to take the job for the small amount of money they were paying. It was all ultimately better for me, that’s for sure.
Halloween is still eight months away, but we know that you plan far ahead, like Santa does for Christmas. What can we expect from you for the spooky season this year?
Well, we have a lot of stuff that we’re holding back that is coming out around the fall. Which, unfortunately, I can’t tell you about. And a lot of things are really depending on what’s going on with the pandemic. At least in terms of appearances. I did a ton last Halloween with Netflix and Shudder, but it was weird because we did it with no one in the studio when we were filming. It was really difficult. But we do have some very cool licensing things which will be coming out, and I just wish I could tell ya more about it! And the documentary won’t be this fall, but the following fall. This fall we have the paperback edition of my book coming out, and there will be different collectible covers. And I think that’ll be very fun for the fans.
The Elvira 8″ Clothed Action Figure: Standard Edition comes priced at$34.99. The Signature Edition Elvira (autographed) is priced at $99.99. It’s available to purchase at the start of Haul-A-Thon on April 1 in Target stores only. It will be available to purchase online at Haulathon.com and Target.com.