2021-01-04 14:14:24 UTC
(warning: this includes a big spoiler for The Gorgon, so I left it out)
Barbara Shelley, the actress dubbed the 'first leading lady of British horror' and star of movies like Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Village of the Damned, has died at the age of 88.
According to reports, she had contracted COVID-19 while in hospital, but it was not the cause of death.
"She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer,” her agent Thomas Bowington said in a statement.
"On screen she could be quietly evil. She goes from statuesque beauty to just animalistic wildness. She was a regular favourite of Hammer events and autograph shows but also performed on stage with the RSC.
“She adored Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. And loved working with them, that was very dear to her."...
...Many of her early credits found her working in the Italian movie business through the 1950s, for cult directors including Luigi Capuano and Camillo Mastrocinque.
However, it was on her return to the UK and her work for the hugely influential Hammer studio in the late 50s which made her an icon among horror fans, firstly in the 1958 WWII movie The Camp On Blood Island...
...Shelley would go on to appear with Lee in several of Hammer's classic movies, including Dracula: Prince of Darkness in 1966 and playing Sonia in Rasputin, The Mad Monk, lady-in-waiting to the tsarina who is beguiled by Lee's maniacal holy man.
Her last movie for Hammer was the sci-fi classic Quatermass And The Pit in 1967, after which she concentrated her career on theatre and television, having already appeared in the likes of The Saint, Z-Cars, The Man from UNCLE and The Avengers.
She starred in the 1981 BBC series The Borgias, along with Blake's 7 and Doctor Who, in the episode Planet of Fire in 1984, opposite Peter Davison's Doctor.
Shelley also appeared in the likes of Bergerac, Maigret and the 1980 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
Then in 1988, she made her way to Albert Square, playing the role of Hester Samuels in EastEnders, sister of Doctor Legg...