This Vintage Horror Actress Suffered A Truly Terrifying Fate

Any fan of vintage 1950s horror movies will easily recall the name Yvette Vickers. Remembered for her performances in many of the B movies that played in drive-in after drive-in across the country, Vickers is best known for her roles in the 1958 feature "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" and 1959's "Attack of the Giant Leeches." Along with her many other roles throughout the '50s, Vickers also appeared in the July 1959 issue of Playboy as the "Playmate of the Month" (via Big Country News).

But even with all that fame and notoriety, Vickers still suffered a sad, strange end. In a weird turn of events, Vickers was last seen alive back in early 2010 (via The Conway Daily Sun). In fact, according to Los Angeles Magazine, it was determined by her mail that Vickers probably died sometime toward the end of August 2010. Based strictly on her unpaid phone bill, Vickers stopped making calls in September, suggesting she may have died around that time. However, it wasn't until April 27, 2011 (about 8 months later) that anyone learned of her death (via Oxygen). Over the course of that year, Vickers' body became mummified from the combination of the southern California climate and a space heater that had been running the entire time.

Giant-sized fame

Born Yvette Iola Vedder in Kansas City, Missouri (via The San Diego Union-Tribune) on August 26, 1928 to jazz musician Charles Vedder and his wife Iola, Vickers (above middle) didn't get involved in acting until well into her teens. The acting bug eventually bit her while attending UCLA, however. During Vickers' time at the university, she stumbled on an acting class that would set her on the course for stardom (via the Los Angeles Times).

Graduating with a degree in theater, Vickers quickly landed her first role, though uncredited, in the 1950s movie "Sunset Boulevard" (via I Am Not a Stalker). Over the next several years, Vickers continued clawing her way up the Hollywood ranks until 1958, when she landed her first leading role in the movie "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman." In it, Vickers played the town's Hester Prynne, known as Honey Parker. While only a B movie, the film afforded her yet another leading role the following year in the movie "Attack of the Giant Leeches."

A descent into obscurity

For Vickers, 1959 was a turning point in her career. After appearing in "Attack of the Giant Leeches," an up-and-coming brand came knocking on the actresses' door. Hugh Hefner approached Vickers about appearing in his relatively new "gentleman's magazine," Playboy. She accepted, and in July 1959, just a few months before the release of "Attack of the Giant Leeches," Vickers was crowned Playboy's "Playmate of the Month" (via Los Angeles Times).

While Vickers was married three times over the course of her life — first to Donald Prell, then to Leonard Burns, and finally tying the knot to Tom Howland — she remained childless throughout. Even though Vickers was unable to find love through marriage, she definitely had some luck dating some of Hollywood's then-hottest men. She claimed a multi-year affair with actor Cary Grant (via Los Angeles Magazine) and a little something on the side with "Dirty Dozen" actor Lee Marvin as well as Timothy Hutton's father, Jim Hutton, star of the 70's TV show "Ellery Queen."

A sad demise

After appearing in a few more movie roles and a couple of other "men's" magazines, offers began drying up for Vickers until she eventually faded away into obscurity; her last role of the era was in the '70s TV show "Switch." Vickers attempted a resurgence of sorts in the early '90s, appearing in the film "Evil Spirits." A short-lived revival, Vickers' descent into anonymity was so spectacular that she died alone without the world knowing otherwise.

According to the Daily Mail, the former actress was accidentally discovered by a neighbor, Susan Savage. Savage noticed that the actresses' mail had not been picked up in some time. It had been so long that her mail was yellowing and covered in cobwebs in the mailbox. Forcing her way through a barricaded gate to reach the front door (via The San Diego Union-Tribune), Savage discovered Vickers dead in her house, with a space heater still running. An autopsy later confirmed that the 82-year-old actress had been dead for at least a year, her body mummified from the neglect and the California climate.

"She kept to herself, had friends and seemed like a very independent spirit," Savage said of Vickers. "To the end, she still got cards and letters from all over the world requesting photos."