Born Victoria Louise Samantha Eggar in London in 1939, Eggar was the daughter of a British Army Brigadier and was educated in a convent. She became interested in acting while in her teens and performed with several Shakespeare repertory companies.
It was while appearing in a play that Eggar was discovered by a film producer and cast in 1961's The Wild and the Willing as a college coed. There would be a couple of other undistinguished roles but the lovely young actress would get her big break when she replaced Natalie Wood in William Wyler's The Collector.
At 26, she found international fame. The thrilling character study was based on the novel by John Fowles. In the film adaptation, Eggar played the demanding role of Miranda Grey, the object of a stalker's unhealthy obsession. She is soon kidnapped and kept in a basement, as if she were just part of the psycho's butterfly collection.
About the director's technique, Eggar recalls that "he kept me unnerved and high-strung. He made me believe he actually hated me, to get the performance out of me that he wanted."
For her performance, she won the Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actress in a Drama and was nominated for an Academy Award. Time Magazine described Eggar as a "rare combination of acting talent and physical beauty."
The success of The Collector led to a starring role opposite Cary Grant in Walk Don't Run (1966) which would mark Grant's swan song in motion pictures. Eggar appeared in Dr. Dolittle in 1967 and then took a break when her daughter Jenna Louise Stern was born.
She returned to acting three years later and found work in a variety of projects. With her striking looks, Eggar seemed to enjoy taking part in various thrillers and horror films. She was cast as Myra in Armando Crispino's 1972 The Dead Are Alive AKA L'etrusco uccide ancora.
The film, about an archaeological expedition searching for Etruscan ruins in Italy, seems at times to have a supernatural bent but turns out to be a decent and traditional giallo.
Throughout the '70s, she appeared regularly on American television shows and movies. In 1973, the actress played Phyllis Dietrickson in a remake of Double Indemnity, the role made famous by Barbara Stanwyck.
She played Robert Culp's wife in the forgettable haunted house flick A Name For Evil (1973) but Eggar was better served in the 1974 Made-for-TV movie All the Kind Strangers, in which killer hillbilly children hold a couple hostage.
1977's anthology The Uncanny had the look and feel of an Amicus Studio production. Eggar played the actress wife of Donald Pleasence in a film that had a peculiar premise about cats that are out to rule and destroy mankind. Her segment was played mainly for laughs.
She co-starred with Oliver Reed in David Cronenberg's The Brood (1979). Her Nola Carveth was a truly terrifying, complex character. Because of the abuse she received as a child, Nola has given birth to a group of mutants who kill those persons she concentrates her rage on. Who can forget the grotesque scene in which she gives birth from a womb outside of her stomach - and then licks the blood off the baby?
In 1983's Curtains, Eggar's portrayal of Samantha Sherwood (teetering on the brink of insanity as she goes after the role of a lifetime) was yet another fine performance in a distinguished career.
Eggar continues to act in television and feature films.
|The Dead Are Alive
|A Name for Evil