Wednesday 24 November 2010

The Wonderful Ingrid Pitt dies aged 73

I was saddened to hear of Ingrid Pitt's passing this morning. Ingrid, who starred alongside Clint in (arguably) the greatest WWII adventure of all time, collapsed on her way to an event held by her loyal fans and just two days after her 73rd birthday. As an actress, she was a fan's dream. Ingrid was a regular on the convention and film fair circuit. Warm, courteous and utterly charming, Ingrid was always happy to involve and welcome you with that beautiful smile that left you melting. I was lucky enough to have met her on several occasions and she was always a delight.
Below: Ingrid during the filming of Where Eagles Dare

Born Ingoushka Petrov in Poland in 1937, she survived imprisonment in a concentration camp during the Second World War. On the night she planned to make her stage debut, she found herself under threat from the Communist East German authorities. After jumping into the River Spree to escape them, she was rescued by an American soldier, who became her first husband. 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 in Where Eagles Dare opposite Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.

Above: Ingrid as Heidi alongside Richard Burton in Where Eagles Dare.
It was her work with Hammer Film Productions that elevated her to cult figure status. She starred in The Vampire Lovers (1970), a film based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's novella Carmilla, and Countess Dracula (1971), a film based on the legends around Countess Elizabeth Báthory. Pitt also appeared in the Amicus Horror Anthology film The House That Dripped Blood (1971) and had a small part in the cult film The Wicker Man (1973).
Below: Ingrid as Countess Dracula

Ingrid's daughter, Steffanie Pitt said: "She passed away this morning. It was heart trouble. She was a fantastic person." She added: "She had a couple of bad years, health-wise, but she had fought through. She'll be sorely missed." Steffanie said she wanted her mother to be remembered as the Countess Dracula with the "wonderful teeth and the wonderful bosom".
She relished being cast as predatory baddies, rather than innocent victims. Film historian Marcus Hearn, said: "She was partly responsible for ushering in a bold and brazen era of sexually explicit horror films in the 1970s, but that should not denigrate her abilities."

Above: Ingrid was proud to be recognised as the sexy scream queen
Robin Hardy, the director of The Wicker Man, said "She was a very attractive person in every sense. She was a perfectly good actress but a very decent person as well, not that those two things don't often go together."
Later in her life, she published many books and toured the film fair and convention scene regularly. Ingrid seemed to radiate enjoyment when it came to meeting her fans and seemingly relished sharing a joke with them. Our thoughts are naturally with her husband Tony and their family. Ingrid will be sorely missed by many.
Below: Ingrid in later years, like the countess she retained an enigmatic beauty

~The Clint Eastwood Archive~