Ingrid Pitt

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Ingrid Pitt
Ingridd Pitt.jpg
Pitt in Where Eagles Dare (1968)
Born Ingoushka Petrov
(1937-11-21)21 November 1937
Warsaw, Poland
Died 23 November 2010(2010-11-23) (aged 73)
South London, England
Occupation Actress, writer
Years active 1964–2010
Spouse(s) Laud Roland Pitt Jr (divorced)
George Pinches (divorced)
Tony Rudlin
Children Steffanie Pitt-Blake

Ingrid Pitt (21 November 1937 – 23 November 2010) was a Polish-British actress best known for her work in horror films of the 1960s and 1970s.[1]

Background[edit]

Pitt was born Ingoushka Petrov in Warsaw, Poland, to a German father of Russian descent and a Polish Jewish mother.[2] During World War II, she and her family were imprisoned in a concentration camp.[1] She survived and, in Berlin in the 1950s, married an American soldier and moved to 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 was brown, though she frequently lightened it to blonde.

Acting career[edit]

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 "Heidi" in Where Eagles Dare opposite Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.

She appeared as Queen Galleia with Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado in 'The Time Monster', which was the fifth Serial of the ninth season of 'Doctor Who', broadcast in six weekly parts between 20 May - 24 June 1972. Pitt also appears in the second broadcast episode of the short lived cult ITC series The Zoo Gang 'Mindless Murder' - 12 April 1974.

It was her work with Hammer Film Productions that elevated her to cult figure status. She starred as "Carmilla/Mircalla" in The Vampire Lovers (1970), based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's novella Carmilla, and played the title role in Countess Dracula (1971), 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 Wicker Man (1973).

In the mid-1970s, she appeared on the judging panel of the British ITV talent show New Faces.[3]

During the 1980s, Pitt returned to mainstream films and television. Her role as Fraulein Baum in the 1981 BBC Playhouse Unity, who is denounced as a Jew by Unity Mitford (Lesley-Anne Down), was uncomfortably close to her real-life experiences. 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 II, and Hanna's War. Generally cast as a "baddie", she usually manages to die 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 also appeared in many TV shows in the UK and the U.S. – Ironside, Dundee and the Culhane, Doctor Who (The Time Monster, Warriors of the Deep), Smiley's People, etc.

In 1998, Pitt narrated Cradle of Filth's "Cruelty and the Beast" album, although her narration was done strictly in-character as the Countess Elizabeth Báthory, as she portrayed in Countess Dracula.

In 2000, Pitt made her return to the big screen in The Asylum, starring Colin Baker and Patrick Mower and 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.

Writing career[edit]

Pitt's first book, after a number of ill-fated tracts on the plight of 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 ("The Perons"), where she lived for a number of years: "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 story arc Warriors of the Deep (1984). The plot concerned events surrounding the Philadelphia Experiment—the urban legend about a U.S. Navy experiment during World War II to try to make the USS Eldridge destroyer escort invisible to radar. Pitt and Rudlin had read it in The Philadelphia Experiment - Project Invisibility (1979) by paranormal writer Charles Berlitz, grandson of the founder of the Berlitz Language Schools. It involved The Doctor (Colin Baker) and companion Peri (Nicola Bryant) arriving on board the ship in 1943 in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and becoming involved in a battle against microscopic humanoid creatures native to Earth but previously unknown to humankind. The couple 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 was released in June 2010 by Big Finish Productions as The Macros in their Doctor Who: The Lost Stories audios, five months before Pitt's death.

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 through Europe in 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 Ingrid Pitt Bedside Companion for Ghosthunters (2003) was Pitt's tenth book. It was preceded by the The Ingrid Pitt Bedside Companion for Vampire Lovers (1998) and The Ingrid Pitt Book Of Murder, Torture & Depravity (2000).

Pitt's credentials for writing about ghosts spring from a time when she lived 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 a different look at Hammer Films entitled The Hammer Xperience. She also wrote a story under the pen name Dracula Smith, which was illustrated within the Fan club magazine and is rumoured to be waiting to be snapped up for production.

Pitt wrote regular columns for various magazines and periodicals, including Shivers magazine, TV & Film Memorabilia, and Motoring and Leisure. She also wrote a regular column, often about politics, on her official website, as well as a weekly column at UK website Den of Geek.[4] In 2008, she was added to the merchandising of Monster-Mania: The Magazine.[5]

In 2011, Avalard Publishing acquired the rights to Cuckoo Run (1980) and a number of other previously unpublished titles, including Annul Domini: The Jesus Factor (March 2012), a speculative novel about what would have happened if Jesus had never made it to Jerusalem.

Pitt's original novel Dracula Who...? was released in a limited edition by Avalard in October 2012 alongside the script for the unproduced film version. Dracula Who...? saw the return of Countess Dracula, a role Ingrid had played on screen for Hammer Films.

Personal life[edit]

Pitt married three times: Laud Roland Pitt Jr, an American GI; George Pinches, a British film executive; and Tony Rudlin, a writer and racing car driver. Her daughter, Steffanie Pitt-Blake, is also an actress.

She had a passion for World War II aircraft. After revealing this on a radio programme, she was invited by the museum at RAF Duxford to have a flight in a Lancaster.[6] She held a student's pilot licence and a black belt in karate.[7]

Death[edit]

Pitt died in a south London hospital on 23 November 2010, a few days after collapsing, and two days after her 73rd birthday.[8]

Legacy project[edit]

Seven months before she died, Pitt finished narration for Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest (2011), an animated short film on her experience in the Holocaust, a project that had been in the works for five years. Character design and storyboards were created by two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Bill Plympton. The film is directed by Kevin Sean Michaels; co-produced and co-written by Dr. Jud Newborn, Holocaust expert and author, "Sophie Scholl and the White Rose"; and drawn by 10-year-old animator, Perry Chen. There will be a feature-length documentary, also by Michaels, to follow.[9][10][11]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1964 Sound of Horror Sofia Minelli
1965 Chimes at Midnight Uncredited
1965 Doctor Zhivago Uncredited
1966 Un beso en el puerto Dorothy
1966 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Courtesan Uncredited
1968 The Omegans Linda
1968 Where Eagles Dare Heidi
1970 The Vampire Lovers Marcilla/Carmilla/Mircalla Karnstein
1971 Countess Dracula Countess Elisabeth Nádasdy
1971 The House That Dripped Blood Carla Lind Segment: "The Cloak"
1972 Nobody Ordered Love Alice Allison
1973 The Wicker Man Librarian
1982 Who Dares Wins Helga
1983 Octopussy Gallery Mistress Voice; uncredited
1984 Bones
1985 Wild Geese II Hooker
1985 Underworld Pepperdine
1986 Parker Widow
1988 Hanna's War Margit
2000 The Asylum Isobella
2000 Green Fingers Mrs. Bowen Short film
2003 Dominator Lady Violator Voice
2006 Minotaur The Sybil
2008 Beyond the Rave Tooley's Mum Direct-to-video
2008 Sea of Dust Anna
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1967 Dundee and the Culhane Tallie Montreaux Episode: "The 1000 Feet Deep Brief"
1967 Ironside Irene Novas Episode: "The Fourteenth Runner"
1972 Jason King Nadine Episode "Nadine"
1973 The Adventurer Elayna Episode: "Double Exposure"
1974 The Zoo Gang Lyn Martin Episode: "Mindless Murder"
1975 Thriller Ilse Episode: "Where the Action Is"
1981 BBC2 Playhouse Fraulein Baum Episode: "Unity"
1981 Artemis 81 Hitchcock Blonde Television film
1982 Smiley's People Elvira Episodes: season 1.1, season 1.2; television mini-series
1983 The Comedy of Errors Courtesan Television film
1972–1984 Doctor Who Galleia/Dr. Solow 5 episodes
1984 The House Countess Von Eisen Television film
1987 Bulman Laura Episode: "Chicken of the Baskervilles"
Writer
Year Title Notes
2011 Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest Short film; released in 2011

Bibliography (partial)[edit]

  • 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)
  • Annul Domini (2012)
  • Dracula Who...? (2012)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Margalit Fox (25 November 2010). "Ingrid Pitt, Horror Star Who Survived Nazis, Dies at 73". New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2010. "Lovely and voluptuous, the actress Ingrid Pitt was given a choice early in her film career: pornography or horror. Ms. Pitt, who had spent her childhood in a Nazi concentration camp, later scoured Europe in search of her vanished father and still later was forced to flee East Germany a step ahead of the police, chose horror. It was a genre she knew firsthand. ..." 
  2. ^ Ingrid Pitt
  3. ^ Pitt, Ingrid (8 September 2008). "The Ingrid Pitt column: talent shows". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  4. ^ Pitt, Ingrid (29 January 2008). "Doctor Who: Warriors of the Deep". Den of Geek. 
  5. ^ "Monster Media". February 2008. 
  6. ^ "Ingrid Pitt". The Daily Telegraph (London). 24 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Cotter, Robert Michael (2010). Ingrid Pitt, Queen of Horror. McFarland & Co. pp. 170, 205. ISBN 978-0-7864-5888-2. 
  8. ^ "Hammer horror actress Ingrid Pitt dies aged 73". BBC News (BBC). 23 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  9. ^ Child, Ben (25 November 2010). "Ingrid Pitt made film about concentration camp childhood-Prior to her death, Hammer horror muse narrated animated short film about her childhood experience of the Holocaust". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  10. ^ . perrys previews http://www.perryspreviews.com/?p=1779. Retrieved 24 November 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ http://www.judnewborn.com.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]