Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Name at birth: Cassandra PetersonActress Cassandra Peterson is better known for her spoofy, sexy alter ego: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Peterson was just another struggling actress during the 1970s, with bit parts on episodes of the TV series Happy Days and Flying High. But in the early 1980s she created the character of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Clad in black, with giant wig and ample bosom, she put the "vamp" in vampire as she introduced horror movies on a Los Angeles television station. The character took off, and Elvira became a spokeswoman for all things spooky and campy, with a merchandising blitz that cranked out everything from perfume to pinball machines to wine ("Elvira's Macabrenet"). She typically reappears each October as a friendly corporate mascot of Halloween. Elvira starred in the horror comedy feature Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) and has hosted several short-lived TV series including The Elvira Show (1993), The Search for the Next Elvira (2007), Elvira's Movie Macabre (2010-11) and 13 Nights of Elvira (2014).
Cassandra Peterson is a longtime supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); in a much-publicized 1991 incident, she turned down an offer to perform as an elephant trainer in the TV extravaganza Circus of the Stars.