Yvette Vickers, a former Playboy model and star of such sci-fi fare as Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman and Attack Of The Leeches, died at the age of 82, but it wasn’t until last week—a year later—that anyone learned that she was dead. In a scene straight out of the sort of B-movie horrors she starred in, a neighbor discovered Vickers’ mummified corpse—so decomposed as to be unrecognizable—after finally investigating the stacks of yellowing junk mail and growing cobwebs in front of Vickers’ home.
It’s a horrifying fate for anyone to meet, but for Vickers it was an especially dark end to a fairly starry life. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed model had a swift rise after being discovered by Billy Wilder, who cast her in a small role in Sunset Boulevard that landed her in the studio system and then a larger part in the 1957 crime drama Short Cut To Hell, directed by James Cagney. After that film flopped, Vickers turned to TV work and B-movies, notably playing Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman’s Honey Parker, the floozy mistress who becomes the victim of the giantess’ rage, and playing another loose woman who’s taken prisoner by the titular bloodsuckers in Attack Of The Giant Leeches (perhaps best known to modern audiences for its appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000). In 1959, Vickers put her assets on display as Playboy’s Miss July in a pictorial shot by Russ Meyer, and around that same time made appearances on numerous crime dramas and Westerns like Dragnet, Bat Masterson, and Mike Hammer. She was also seen on the arm of actors like Cary Grant and Jim Hutton (father of Timothy Hutton), both of whom remained lifelong friends.
Vickers’ career slowed considerably after her small role opposite Paul Newman in Hud, though she continued to act sporadically through the 1970s, including on Broadway and in the creepy, campy Debbie Reynolds-Shirley Winters thriller What’s The Matter With Helen? Her last on-screen appearance was in 1990’s Evil Spirits, a low-budget horror with Karen Black and Laugh-In’s Arte Johnson; that marked the end of her acting, and in the ’90s she pursued a hobby side career as a jazz singer, even releasing a CD. Though she dated Hutton for nearly 15 years and married (and divorced) twice, Vickers had no children or other surviving family, and had more or less became a total recluse in her later years. She popped up occasionally for fanzine interviews or to contribute the DVD commentary for Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman, but she also reportedly became increasingly paranoid in her waning years and was convinced that she was being stalked, leading her to completely close herself off from everyone. Sadly, Vickers’ reclusiveness meant that she was all but forgotten—until now, anyway.