Ingrid Pitt  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Ingrid Pitt (21 November 1937 - 23 November 2010) was an actress best known for her work in horror films of the 1960s and 1970s, in such films as The Vampire Lovers.



She was born Ingoushka Petrov in Poland to a German father and a Polish Jewish mother. During World War II she and her family were imprisoned in a concentration camp. She survived and in Berlin, Germany in the 1950s met and married an American soldier and ended up living in California. After her marriage failed, she returned to Europe but after a small role in a film, she headed to Hollywood where she worked as a waitress while trying to make a career in the movies. Her natural hair colour is brown, though she frequently has lightened it to blonde.

Acting career

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.

It was her work with Hammer Film Productions that elevated her to cult figure status. She starred in The Vampire Lovers, a film based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's novella Carmilla, and Countess Dracula, a film based on the legends around Countess Elizabeth Báthory. She had a small part in the cult film The Wicker Man (1973), in which she appeared nude in a bathtub.

Pitt also appeared in the Amicus Horror Anthology film The House That Dripped Blood, a gothic horror film that, along with The Vampire Lovers, marked the first of a string of early 1970s successes for her in that genre.

During the 1980s, Pitt returned to roles in mainstream films and on television but 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 2, Hanna's War etc. 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 has also appeared in many TV shows in the UK and USA - Ironside, Dundee and the Calhane, Doctor Who ("The Time Monster", "Warriors of the Deep"), Smiley's People, etc.

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.

Writing career

Pitt's first book, after a number of ill-fated tracts on the plight of the Native Americans, was a novel, Cuckoo Run, a spy story about mistaken identity. "I took it to Cubby Broccoli. It was about a woman called Nina Dalton who is pursued across South America in the mistaken belief that she is a spy. Cubby said it was a female Bond. He was being very kind."

This was followed in 1984 by a novelisation of the Peron era in Argentina, where she lived for a number of years after falling afoul of the establishment in England. "Argentina was a wild frontier country ruled by a berserk military dictatorship at the time. It just suited my mood."

In 1984, Pitt and her husband Tony Rudlin were commissioned to script a Doctor Who adventure. The story, entitled "The Macro Men", was one of a number of ideas submitted by the couple, after she appeared in the season 21 DW story Warriors of the Deep. The plot concerned events surrounding the Philadelphia Experiment - a US military experiment during the Second World War to try to make the naval destroyer USS Eldridge invisible to radar - about which Pitt and Rudlin had read in a book entitled The Philadelphia Experiment by leading paranormal investigator Charles Berlitz. It involved the Doctor, and companion Peri, arriving on board the USS Eldridge in Philadelphia harbour in 1943 and becoming involved in a battle against microscopic humanoid creatures native to Earth but previously unknown to humankind. The writers had several meetings with script editor Eric Saward and carried out numerous revisions, but the story progressed no further than the preparation of a draft first episode script under the new title 'The Macros'. The story has now been made by Big Finish in their Doctor Who: the Lost Stories audios, as The Macros.

In 1999, her autobiography, Life's a Scream (Heinemann) was published, and she was short-listed for the Talkies Awards for her own reading of extracts from the audio book. "I hate being second".

The autobiography detailed the harrowing experiences of her early life in a Nazi Concentration camp, her search throughout the European Red Cross Refugee Camps for her father, and her escape from East Berlin, one step ahead of the Volkspolizei. "I always had a big mouth and used to go on about the political schooling interrupting my quest for thespian glory. I used to think like that. Not good in a police state."

The Bedside Companion for Ghosthunters (Batsfords) is Pitt's tenth book. It was preceded by the Bedside Companion for Vampire Lovers (Batsfords). The Ingrid Pitt Book Of Murder, Torture And Depravity was published in October 2000.

Several other books are in the pipeline. Pitt's credentials for writing about ghosts spring from a time when she lived for a while with a tribe of Indians in Colorado. Sitting with her baby daughter, Steffanie, by a log fire, she was sure that she could see the face of her father smiling at her in the flames. "I told one of the others and he went all Hollywood Injun on me and said something like 'Heap good medicine'. I guess he was taking the mickey."

Other writing projects include different look at Hammer Films entitled The Hammer Xperience. She also has written a story currently penned as Dracula Smith, which has been illustrated within the Fan club magazine, and is rumoured to be waiting to be snapped up for production . Pitt writes regular columns for various magazines and periodicals, including Shivers magazine, TV & Film Memorabilia and Motoring and Leisure. She also writes a regular column, often about politics, on her official website, as well as a weekly column at UK website Den of Geek. Recently she has been added to the merchandising of Monster-Mania: The Magazine.

Fan Club

The Ingrid Pitt Fan Club is well represented internationally and has an Annual Reunion in London each November.

In spite of her busy workload, Pitt still manages to visit conventions and film festivals in the UK, Europe and USA. "It's great meeting the fans. They tell me that I am more beautiful now than when I was making films a quarter of a century ago. All lies, of course, but sweet. And where else is an old bag like me going to get strapping young men and women whispering sweet nothings in her ear?"

Other passions

Pitt has a passion for World War 2 aircraft. After revealing her passion on a radio programme, she was invited by the museum at RAF Duxford to have a flight in a Lancaster. Template:Citation needed

She has a student's pilot licence and a black belt in karate. Template:Citation needed

Filmography (partial)

Bibliography (partial)

  • Cuckoo Run (1980)
  • The Perons (1984)
  • Eva's Spell (1985)
  • Katarina (1986)
  • The Ingrid Pitt Bedside Companion for Vampire Lovers (1998)
  • The Autobiography of Ingrid Pitt : Life's A Scream (1999)
  • Ingrid Pitt Bedside Companion for Ghosthunters (1999)
  • The Ingrid Pitt Book of Murder, Torture and Depravity (2000)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ingrid Pitt" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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