Ingrid Pitt (21 November 1937 – 23 November 2010) was an actress best known for her work in horror films of the 1960s and 1970s. Pitt was born Ingoushka Petrov in Warsaw, Poland to a German father of Russian descent and a Polish Jewish mother. During World War II she and her family were imprisoned in a concentration camp.
In the early 1960s Pitt was a member of the prestigious Berliner Ensemble, under the guidance of Bertolt Brecht’s widow Helene Weigel. In 1965 she made her film debut in ‘Doctor Zhivago’, playing a minor role. In 1968 she co-starred in the low budget science fiction film The Omegans and in the same year played “Heidi” in ‘Where Eagles Dare’ (1968) opposite Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.
It was her work with Hammer Film Productions that elevated her to cult figure status. She starred as “Carmilla/Mircalla” in ‘The Vampire Lovers’ (1970), and played the title role in ‘Countess Dracula’ (1971), a film based on the legends around Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Pitt also appeared in the Amicus horror anthology film ‘The House That Dripped Blood’ (1971) and had a small part in the film ‘The Wicker Man’ (1973).
During the 1980s, Pitt returned to roles in mainstream films and on television. Her role as Fraulein Baum in the 1981 BBC Playhouse Unity, who is denounced as a Jew by Unity Mitford (played byLesley-Anne Down, who had played her daughter in Countess Dracula), was uncomfortably close to her real-life experiences.
Her popularity with horror film buffs saw her in demand for guest appearances at horror conventions and film festivals. Other films Pitt has appeared in outside the horror genre are: ‘Who Dares Wins’, (aka The Final Option), ‘Wild Geese II’, and ‘Hanna’s War’. Generally cast as a ‘baddie’, she usually manages to get killed horribly at the end of the final reel. “Being the anti-hero is great – they are always roles you can get your teeth into.”
It was at this time that the theatre world also beckoned. Pitt founded her own theatrical touring company and starred in successful productions of Dial M for Murder, Duty Free (aka Don’t Bother to Dress), and Woman of Straw. She also appeared in many TV shows in the UK and US – Ironside, Dundee and the Culhane, Doctor Who (The Time Monster, Warriors of the Deep), and Smiley’s People.
Pitt made her return to the big screen in the 2000 production The Asylum. The film starred Colin Baker and Patrick Mower, and was directed by John Stewart. In 2003, Pitt voiced the role of “Lady Violator” in Renga Media’s production ‘Dominator’. The film was the UK’s first CGI animated film.
After a period of illness, Pitt returned to the screen in 2006 for the Hammer Films-Mario Bava tribute, ‘Sea of Dust’. In 1998, Pitt narrated Cradle of Filth’s “Cruelty and the Beast” album, although her narration was done strictly in-character as the Countess she portrayed in Countess Dracula.
Pitt died in a south London hospital on 23 November 2010, a few days after collapsing, and two days after her 73rd birthday. Seven months before she died, Pitt finished narration for “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest,” an animated short film on her experience in the Holocaust, a project that had been in the works for five years. Character design and storyboards were created by two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Bill Plymton. The film is directed by Kevin Sean Michaels; and drawn by 10-year-old animator, Perry Chen.
November 21, 2011 | Categories: Biography, Biography: ACTORS, Scream Queens | Tags: Actors, Amicus Film, Biography, Countess Dracula, Cult, Hammer Glamour, Hammer Horror, Horror, Icons, Ingrid Pitt, Nudity, The Wicker Man, Vampire Lovers, Vampires, Where Eagles Dare | Leave a comment