30 July 2014


Ingrid Pitt was born Ingoushka Petrov in Poland on November 21, 1937, to Jewish and German parents. The Petrov family, including young Ingoushka, spent three years in a Nazi concentration camp, but thankfully survived the Holocaust and all the unimaginable horrors of World War II.

Ingoushka changed her name to Ingrid - and then went on to become a successful stage actress in East Berlin. She began spending time in Spain, where she became a member of the Spanish National Theatre.

In Spain, Pitt soon broke into films. Her first was called El sonido de la muerte (AKA The Prehistoric Sound), a low budget (with a capital L) thriller about a dinosaur that makes mince meat out of a couple of treasure hunters in Greece.

There would be uncredited cameos in Doctor Zhivago (1965) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), before Pitt received the higher profile role of Heidi in Where Eagles Dare (1968), an Alistair MacLean action adventure flick starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.

The following decade saw Pitt find her niche when she was cast in Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers (1970). It was a good match, as Pitt's husky voice and exotic looks were perfectly suited to the genre.

Playing Carmilla, a 200 year-old lesbian gypsy vampire, Pitt oozes sexuality and it is not difficult to see how her female victims succumb to her advances. The film was a huge international hit for Hammer and the studio followed it with two sequels in 1971: Lust For a Vampire and Twins of Evil. Pitt did not appear in either – but both are enjoyable in their own right.

Instead, Hammer chose Countess Dracula as the next vehicle for their star. Set in medieval Europe, Pitt portrays Countess Elisabeth Nodosheen, who finds the fountain of youth in the blood of young girls. It would cement her reputation as the studio’s Vampire Queen.

In quick succession, she appeared in The Cloak, a segment in 1971’s The House That Dripped Blood anthology for Hammer’s rival studio Amicus. Scripted by Robert Bloch, it was generally thought that Pitt’s story was the best of the four…with its emphasis on humor. Jon “Doctor Who” Pertwee played an actor who is turned into a vampire when he dons a black cape.

For all of Pitt's worldwide popularity in the genre, it is perhaps puzzling that her role as the librarian in The Wicker Man (1973) was essentially her swan song in fright films for quite a while.

She appeared in an episode of the excellent Thriller series entitled Where the Action Is, but her acting stints following her success in the first half of the ‘70s is sporadic.

The lovely actress kept busy by writing, attending horror conventions, and appearances at film festivals, right up until her death in 2010 at the age of 73.

NOTABLE FILMS YEAR
Countess Dracula 1971
The House that Dripped Blood 1971
The Omegans 1968
The Vampire Lovers 1970
The Wicker Man 1973
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