First Leading Lady Of British Horror Movies Barbara Shelley Dies Aged 88

CREDIT: @OwenEdmunds/ Twitter

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, dies aged 88.

Her agent Thomas Bowington said in a statement: “She went into hospital for a muscle check up and in that process she contracted Covid.

“But after that she had an infection and was in hospital by herself for two weeks before Christmas.

“It’s most likely Covid is going to come up on the death certificate.”

The news has shocked many Hammer Horror fans as Shelley had become its number-one female star, with The Gorgon (1964), Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966), Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1966), and Quatermass and the Pit (1967) among her credits.

Thomas Bowington reiterated the point in his statement: “She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer.

“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.”

Fans and people within the movie industry paid their tributes to the actress, who also most noticeably starred in The Saint (1962), The Avengers episodes “Dragonsfield” (1961) and “From Venus With Love” (1967); the Doctor Who serial Planet of Fire (1984), and EastEnders (1988).

Actor-Writer, James Swanton said: “Barbara Shelley has died. She matched Christopher Lee’s Dracula and Rasputin for blazing bravura. She became the cat girl and the Gorgon; fought the mad medicos of Wolfit and Cushing; inhabited a village of the damned and channelled the Martians. Our greatest horror actress.”

Film producer, Jonathan Sothcott tweeted: “Barbara Shelley was Hammer Films great female star and Britain’s most accomplished horror film actress. Brilliant in 60s classics The Gorgon, Dracula Prince of Darkness, Rasputin & Quatermass & The Pit. Uniquely strong, nuanced performances amidst a sea of Hammer Glamour. RIP.”


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Written by

Matthew Roscoe

Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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