Kate O'Mara

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Not to be confused with Kate Mara.
Kate O'Mara
Kate O'Mara in trailer for "The Vampire Lovers"
O'Mara in the trailer for The Vampire Lovers
Born Frances Meredith Carroll[1]
(1939-08-10)10 August 1939
Leicester, Leicestershire, England, UK
Died 30 March 2014(2014-03-30) (aged 74)
Sussex, England, UK
Occupation Actress, writer
Years active 1963–2012
Spouse(s) Jeremy Young (m. 1961–76) (divorced)
Richard Willis (m. 1993–96) (divorced)
Children Dickon Young, Christopher Linde
Relatives Belinda Carroll (sister)

Kate O'Mara (10 August 1939 – 30 March 2014) was an English film, stage and television actress, and writer. She was perhaps most widely known for her 1986 role as Caress Morell, the scheming sister of Alexis Colby in the American primetime soap opera Dynasty.

O'Mara made her stage debut in a 1963 production of The Merchant of Venice. Her other stage roles included Elvira in Blithe Spirit (1974), Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (1982), Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra (1982), Goneril in King Lear (1987) and Marlene Dietrich in Lunch with Marlene (2008). Her films included two 1970 Hammer Horror fillms, The Vampire Lovers and The Horror of Frankenstein. On television, she also had regular roles in The Brothers (1975-1976), Triangle (1981-1982) and Howards' Way (1989-1990), and portrayed the recurring part of the Rani in Doctor Who in 1985 and 1987. She also appeared as Jackie Stone in two episodes of the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.

Early life and career[edit]

O'Mara was born Frances Meredith Carroll to John F. Carroll, an RAF flying instructor, and actress Hazel Bainbridge (born 1909/1910 – died 7 January 1998). Her younger sister is actress Belinda Carroll.[2] After boarding school she attended art school before becoming a full-time actress.[3] O'Mara married Jeremy Young in 1961, but the couple divorced in 1976. She had two sons, Dickon Young (1964–2012) and Chris Linde, but gave up Linde for adoption.[4]

O'Mara made her stage debut in a production of The Merchant of Venice in 1963, although her first film role was some years earlier (under the name Merrie Carroll) in Home and Away (1956) with Jack Warner, as her father, and Kathleen Harrison.[1] Her earliest television appearances, in the 1960s, included guest roles in Danger Man, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Saint, Z-Cars and The Avengers.[citation needed]

In 1970, she appeared in two Hammer Studio horror films: The Vampire Lovers and The Horror of Frankenstein. In the former, she had an erotically charged scene with Ingrid Pitt, in which O'Mara was meant to be seduced; the two women were left laughing on set, however, as Pitt's fangs kept falling into O'Mara's cleavage.[5] O'Mara's work in The Vampire Lovers impressed Hammer enough for them to offer her a contract, which she turned down, fearful of being typecast.[5]

She had a regular role in the BBC drama series The Brothers (1975-76) as Jane Maxwell, and in the early 1980s, O'Mara starred in the BBC soap opera Triangle (1981-82), sometimes counted among the worst television series ever made.[6] She played the villainous Rani in Doctor Who.[7] The character, as played by O'Mara, appeared in two serials, "The Mark of the Rani" (1985) and "Time and the Rani" (1987) and the "Doctor Who" 30th Anniversary Special "Dimensions in Time" (1993), part of the Children in Need charity event.

Between these appearances in Doctor Who, she played Caress Morrell in the American primetime soap opera Dynasty.[8] As the sister of Alexis Colby (Joan Collins), O'Mara appeared in 17 episodes of the sixth season and 4 episodes of the seventh during 1986. "We had a tremendous bitchy tension between us", the actress recalled about performing opposite Collins. “My character Caress was like an annoying little mosquito who just kept coming back and biting her.”[6] O'Mara quickly found, however, that she disliked living in California, preferring the change of seasons in Britain, and to her relief was released from her five-year contract after Collins had told the producers that having two brunettes in the series was a bad idea.[6] After returning to the UK, she was cast as another scheming villain, Laura Wilde, in the BBC soap Howards' Way (1989-90).[9]

Later life and career[edit]

O'Mara and Peter Davison at the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration.

O'Mara continued to make television appearances throughout the 1990s, including Cluedo and Absolutely Fabulous. In 2001, she had a recurring role in the ITV prison drama series Bad Girls before appearing in the short-lived revival of the soap opera Crossroads. She continued to perform on stage and in March 2008 she played Marlene Dietrich in a stage play entitled Lunch with Marlene. From August to November 2008, she played Mrs Cheveley in Oscar Wilde's stage play An Ideal Husband directed by Peter Hall and produced by Bill Kenwright. She performed in radio and audio plays. In 2000 she reprised her role as the Rani in the BBV audio play The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind, and in 2006 she made a guest appearance in the radio comedy series Nebulous.[10]

One of O'Mara's sons, Dickon Young (1964–2012), was formerly a stage manager for the Royal Shakespeare Company before setting up his own company building tree-houses in the mid-1990s. He was found hanged, presumed suicide, at the family home in Long Marston, Warwickshire on 31 December 2012.[4]

O'Mara was hospitalised with pneumonia at the time of her son's death and his body was not discovered for three weeks.[11] She was a vegetarian and animal rights activist.[12]

O'Mara wrote four books, two novels (When She Was Bad (ISBN 0261667157) and Good Time Girl (ISBN 0002242915)), and two autobiographical books, Vamp Until Ready (ISBN 1861057008) and Game Plan: A Woman's Survival Kit (ISBN 0283060573). In 1993 she married Richard Willis, but the marriage was dissolved in 1996.[13]

Speaking about her bouts of depression, later in her life, O'Mara said: "... I’ve since learnt a cure for depression: listening to J.S. Bach and reading P.G. Wodehouse. This got me through the break-up of my second marriage 17 years ago. The great thing about Wodehouse is that his books are full of romantic problems and yet so hilarious that it puts things in perspective ... I'm not frightened of dying, but I love the countryside so much and I’m going to miss it. I’d like to be out in the wind and the trees for ever."[13]

O'Mara died on 30 March 2014, in a Sussex nursing home, at the age of 74, following a short illness.[14][15][13]

Film and television credits[edit]

Film and television
Year Title Role Notes
1964–
1966
No Hiding Place Jacqueline 2 episodes
1965 Danger Man Annette Episode: A Room in the Basement
1965 Gaslight Theatre Patience Episode: The Drunkard or, the Sins of the Parents Shall Be Visited...
1966 Court Martial Episode: Logistics of Survival
1966 Weavers Green Mick Armstrong
1967 Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond Miss Moneypenny's assistant Uncredited
1967 Adam Adamant Lives! Sonia Fawzi Episode: The Basardi Affair
1967 The Troubleshooters Kim Hart Episode: Mr. Know-How
1967–
1968
The Saint Annabelle/Nadine/Yvette Episodes: Double Take, Counterfeit Countess, Fast Women
1967–
1969
Z-Cars Kate/Mae Astell 4 episodes
1968 Promenade Laura Short film
1968 The Limbo Line Irina Tovskia
1968 Corruption Val Nolan
1968 The Champions Jane Purcell Episode: To Catch a Rat
1968 Great Catherine Varinka Gordon Flemyng film
1969 The Avengers Lisa Episode: Stay Tuned
1969 The Desperados Adah (Jacob's girl) Henry Levin film
1969 The Main Chance Julia Main 4 episodes
1969 Department S Pietra Episode: Who Plays the Dummy
1970 Never a Cross Word Ellie Episode: When is a Spy...
1970 Codename Helen Lingard Episode: Opening Gambit
1970 Paul Temple Luciana Benedetti Episode: Re-take
1970 The Vampire Lovers The Governess (Mme. Perrodot) Roy Ward Baker film
1970 The Adventures of Don Quick Peleen Episode: People isn't Everything
1970 The Horror of Frankenstein Alys Jimmy Sangster film
1970 Cannon for Cordoba Ruby
1972 A Man About a Dog Storm Riordan
1972 ITV Sunday Night Theatre Storm Riordan
1972 The Persuaders! Heidi Schulman Episode: Read and Destroy
1972 Jason King Delphi Episode: A Kiss for a Beautiful Killer
1972 Clouds of Witness Cynthia Tarrant Episode 1.3
1972 Pathfinders Section Officer Anne Denby Episode: Fog
1973 Spy Trap Sharon Lunghi 3 episodes
1974 Feelings Barbara Martin Gerry O'Hara film
1974 The Protectors Sarah Trent Episode: A Pocketful of Posies
1974 The Tamarind Seed Anna Skriabina Blake Edwards film
1975–
1976
The Brothers Jane Maxwell 30 episodes
1976 Machinegunner Pat Livingston
1976 Morecambe & Wise Kate O'Mata Hari Christmas Special
1976 The Two Ronnies The Gypsy Queen
1977 The Two Ronnies Lucy Lee Series 6 Episodes 3–6: Stop! You're Killing Me mini-serial
1978 Tuntematon ystävä (An Unknown Friend) Karen Lindén/Judith Russell/Berit Lindström Finnish crime/suspense film
1978 Return of the Saint Jeanette Episode: Assault Force
1978 The Nativity Salome TV film
1979 The Plank 'It's Paint' Woman
1981–
1982
Triangle Katherine Laker 27 episodes
1985 & 1987 Doctor Who The Rani 6 episodes
1986 Dempsey and Makepeace Joyce Hargreaves Episode: Guardian Angels
1986 Dynasty Cassandra 'Caress' Morrell 21 episodes
1987 Great Catherine Varinka
1989–
1990
Howards' Way Laura Wilde 26 episodes
1990 Cluedo Mrs. Peacock Episode: Christmas Past, Christmas Present
1992 Aladdin Madam Roly Poly (voice) Ron Clements and John Musker film
1993 Comic Relief: The Invasion of the Comic Tomatoes Female Patient
1993 Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time The Rani 2 mini episodes
1995–
2003
Absolutely Fabulous Jackie Stone 2 episodes
1997 The New Adventures of Robin Hood Lady Isabelle Episode: Marion to the Rescue
1999 The Road to Ithaca' Despina
2001 Bad Girls Virginia O'Kane 4 episodes
2003 Crossroads Lady Alice Fox Soap opera
2005 Family Affairs Jackie Lawrence Soap opera
2008 Doctors Rosetta Froom Episode: Fears, Feats & the Frooms
2012 Benidorm Barbara Simmonds 1 episode

Select stage roles[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Michael Coveney Obituary: Kate O'Mara, The Guardian, 30 March 2014
  2. ^ Birth registration info from Findmypast.co.uk:
    Civil Registration event: Birth
    Name: CARROLL, Frances M
    Registration District: Leicester
    County: Leicestershire
    Year of Registration: 1939
    Quarter of Registration: Oct–Nov–Dec
    Mother's Maiden Name: Bainbridge
    Volume No: 7A, Page No: 592
  3. ^ "She’s not a superbitch after all". Edinburgh Evening News. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Kate O'Mara 'beyond distraught' over son's suspected suicide". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK: Telegraph Media Group). 3 January 2013. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Robert Michael 'Bobb' Cotter The Women of Hammer Horror: A Biographical Dictionary and Filmography, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2013, p. 142
  6. ^ a b c Obituary; Kate O'Mara, Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2014
  7. ^ Emma G. Fitzsimmons "Kate O’Mara, a Schemer on ‘Dynasty’, Dies at 74", New York Times, 30 March 2014.
  8. ^ Charles, Marissa (27 October 2009). "Kate O'Mara". Metro News. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Dynasty star Kate O'Mara dies". BBC News. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  10. ^ "Nebulous". BBC comedy. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Dolan, Andy (17 April 2013). "Dickon O'Mara: Son of Dynasty actress Kate O'Mara hanged himself in her garage after 'issues' with drink but body was undiscovered for three weeks". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Webber, Richard (2010). "The shape I'm in: Kate O'Mara". Mail Online. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c "Kate O'Mara obituary". The Telegraph. 30 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Dynasty and Triangle star Kate O'Mara dies aged 74". Itv.com. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Coveney, Michael. "Kate O'Mara obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "The Avengers Declassified: The Stage Show". Declassified.theavengers.tv. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]