Yvette Vickers .com


Sultry blonde actress, singer and pin-up model Yvette Vickers was born Yvette Vedder in Kansas City, Missouri on August 26, 1928.

The daughter of jazz musicians Charles and Iola Vedder, during her youth she traveled with them on the road. Sounds like one of those common "born in a trunk" sagas, but Vickers instead wanted to become a writer, and took journalism classes at UCLA.

However, as a fill-in course on her school schedule, she also took an acting class, and discovered she enjoyed it much more than she thought she would. It wasn't long before she changed her major to drama.

While still at UCLA, and seeking the odd modeling gig, she was noticed by the advertising industry and began making commercials. She moved to New York City where she became the White Rain Girl (hair spray), but decided to return to California. Why settle for just the ad biz, when she might be able to enter the film industry?

Vickers' first movie appearance was in 1950, in a small (and uncredited) role in the hugely popular Sunset Boulevard (1950). Well, if one is going to do only a bit part, it might as well be in a classic.

By 1953, she was married to Don Prell, but by 1957 they were already divorced. That same year she made her first substantial movie appearance in Short Cut To Hell, which is only notable as being a film directed by superstar James Cagney.

But in 1958, fate placed Vickers in the kind of role she could do best - Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman - playing a femme fatale "bad girl" who is so off the charts naughty that the script demands that she gets killed off. (Remember, practically all of the 1950s was during the ultra-repressive Eisenhower administration.)

She portrayed the notorious Honey Parker, reckless party girl and husband-stealer. But she swiped one husband too many, and when the man's wife (Allison Hayes) finds out about it, and also manages to grow 50 feet tall - look out!

Vickers soon-after followed that B-movie marvel with another great role as a trampy vamp, this time playing "love 'em and leave 'em" Liz Walker, an unfaithful lawman's wife, in Attack Of The Giant Leeches. Around the same era, she also got parts on various TV shows. But there was still the print media to conquer, and indeed she did, appearing in 1959 as the Playboy Playmate of the Month for the July issue.

And her centerfold wasn't shot by just any old photographer - it was done by non other than future softcore "skinflick" king Russ Meyer, who would gain fame for Vixen and many other censorship-provoking films. (Not surprisingly, Vickers quickly became in demand by several other men's periodicals of the time, much to the delight of male magazine fans across the country.)

Later in 1959, Vickers married again, this time to Leonard Burns, but - you guessed it - they were divorced the same year. Not to be unfair, but it seems that her screen persona may well have been strikingly similar to her personal one. But around that point, her film career started winding down.

Of course she continued to land some small parts in films from 1962 onward, even including a small 1963 role in the much-respected Hud, which starred the legendary Paul Newman. She popped in and out of films and TV during the '70s and '80s, even lasting as long as the early '90s in the horror offering Evil Spirits, a 1991 low budget lemon which was her last hurrah.

Although she never got hitched again after her failed second marriage, Vickers did manage to maintain a long-term relationship with actor Jim Hutton, father of actor Timothy Hutton. However, the elder Hutton died early of cancer in 1966.

(Click to enlarge)

More contemporary audiences were introduced to Vickers when her cheese classic Attack Of The Giant Leeches appeared once more in the public eye, this time as an object of ridicule on the satirical fan favorite TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

But Vickers wasn't through yet - remember we mentioned she was also a singer? Well, even as late as the 1990s, she released a CD which was a jazz tribute to her parents. In 2005, she visited Canada for the first time, showing up at the Toronto Classic Movie Festival.

And what of her other great B-movie hit - Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman? Well, luckily a version of it has been released on DVD with an audio commentary featuring Vickers herself. Her golden voice is heard along with interviewer Tom Weaveron on the 2007 Warner Brothers DVD release of the film - accept no substitutes.

Now comes the really creepy part of our tale, which echoes the previous overlapping of Vickers and her roles. In her Leech film, she was famous for being attacked and then covered in webbing by the monsters in the film. Well, in real life, on April 27, 2011 one of her neighbors became concerned after noticing a large pile of yellowing mail in her mailbox, as well as spider webs across her front door.

An investigation led police inside to find the dead body of an 81 year old Vickers. A heater and some lights had been turned on just before she died, and they were still running almost a year later when Vickers was found. One always wonders in such cases - who kept paying the utility costs? (Normally a shutoff notice is sent after just two unpaid bills.)

Meanwhile, since the rest of her neighbors also hadn't seen her out and about since the previous summer (June or July), her body had become essentially "mummified." Yes, just like in that Leech flick! (She certainly gave even fellow B-movie queen Susan Cabot a run for her macabre money.)

And as one final kicker to her kick-off, Vickers had in addition been working on her autobiography prior to her death. (Remember, we said she was also a writer.) Hopefully, that material will one day see the light of day. Whether she was still on the early chapters or had almost completed the book, that remains for authorities to determine, depending on how much manuscript material might be recovered.

But one thing's for sure: Vickers certainly proved, even towards the very end, that she still had a fantastic flair for the dramatic!

Vickers' Very Best:

Try And Get Me (1950)
Reform School Girl (1957)
Short Cut To Hell (1957)
The Sad Sack (1957)
I Mobster (1958)
Juvenile Jungle (1958)
Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman (1958)
The Saga Of Hemp Brown (1958)
Attack Of The Giant Leeches (1959)
Pressure Point (1962)
Hud (1963)
Beach Party (1963)
What's The Matter With Helen? (1971)
Evil Spirits (1990)

Yvette puts 'em all in a sweat!
Yvette Vickers On The Internet Movie Data Base

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