It’s with great sadness that I bring you the news that one of my favourite female horror stars of the ‘50s and the ‘60s passed away this morning at the age of 88. Her agent Thomas Bowington tells us that she went into hospital for a muscle check up and caught Covid. She recovered, but almost immediately after she had to go back into hospital after catching another infection and died two weeks later. Says Bowington:
“it wasn’t the Covid that took her, she had underlying issues. It’s most likely Covid is going to come up on the death certificate”.
Dubbed “The First Leading Lady of British Horror”, Barbara starred in Cat Girl, Blood Of The Vampire and the classic Village Of The Damned, but really made her name as one of Hammer’s greatest starlets, and one who most definitely had the acting chops as well as the looks. The Camp On Blood Island, The Secret Of Blood Island, Shadow Of The Cat, Rasputin The Mad Monk and Quatermass And The Pit all benefited from her presence, but for me I’ll always most remember her for two particular roles in films which show Hammer Horror at its very best. The first is as repressed wife Helen Kent who turns into a sensual creature of the night in Dracula, Prince Of Darkness, where during filming she accidentally swallowed one of her fangs and had to drink salt water to bring it back up again because there were no spares. And the second is as the tragic title character in The Gorgon, or should that be two characters; the hideous monster with snakes for hair and the poor Carla Hoffman who becomes more and more aware of what she becomes at night. She also did a lot of TV work including episodes of Doctor Who, The Avengers and even Eastenders.