Guido de Moor, Catherine Schell, and Piet Römer in 1967
Katherina Freiin Schell von Bauschlott
17 July 1944
|Other names||Catherine von Schell|
Katherina von Schell
Katherine von Schell
|Alma mater||Otto Falckenberg School of the Performing Arts|
|Occupation||Television and film actress|
|Years active||1964–2004; 2020|
(m. 1968; div. 1977)
(m. 1982; died 2006)
|Parent(s)||Baron Paul Schell von Bauschlott|
Countess Katharina Maria Etelka Georgina Elisabeth Teleki de Szék
Catherine Schell (born Katherina Freiin Schell von Bauschlott, 17 July 1944 in Budapest) is a Hungarian-born actress who came to prominence in British film and television productions from the 1960s. A former Bond girl, she worked with Peter Sellers on two films, appeared in a Doctor Who serial (City of Death, 1979) and had a regular role in season two of Space: 1999 (1976).
Schell's father, Baron Paul Schell von Bauschlott, was a Hungarian diplomat of three-quarter Magyar ancestry; her mother was Countess Katharina Maria Etelka Georgina Elisabeth Teleki de Szék. At the start of the Second World War, her parents' estates were confiscated by the Nazis. "Schell" is the family name, while "von Bauschlott" indicates the place in Germany where the Schell family owned its main estate.
Fleeing Hungary in advance of the Soviets and communism, the family lived in poverty until 1948, finding asylum in Austria: first in Vienna, then in Salzburg. In 1950, the family emigrated to the United States, where Schell's father acquired American citizenship.
Schell entered a convent school in the New York City borough of Staten Island. In 1957, her father joined Radio Free Europe and the family moved to Munich, Germany, where Schell developed an interest in acting and attended the Otto Falckenberg School of the Performing Arts.
She acted under the name "Catherine von Schell" or "Katherina von Schell" early in her career. Under the latter name, she made her film debut as the title character in the little-known German-language film Lana: Queen of the Amazons [de] (German: Lana – Königin der Amazonen, 1964). She appeared as Bond girl Nancy in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), with George Lazenby in the lead. Around the same time, she appeared in Hammer Films science-fiction thriller Moon Zero Two (also 1969) cast in the role of Clementine Taplin. She appeared with Bette Davis, now credited as Catherine Schell, in Madame Sin (1972), a television film made by ITC which was released theatrically in some markets.
Schell appeared opposite Peter Sellers in the comedy The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) as Lady Claudine Lytton. It is regularly claimed that her apparent tendency for uncontrollable laughter, or corpsing, at Sellers' antics as Inspector Clouseau is an example of breaking character. Reputedly, the film shows Schell attempting to stifle laughter at Sellers's performance in a handful of scenes. Schell has maintained in interviews that she considered it in character for Lady Lytton to be amused by Clouseau, whom she does not see as a serious threat. Schell appeared with Sellers again in The Prisoner of Zenda (1979), one of his last films.
Schell spent much of her career in British television, appearing in more than 47 series spanning a period of nearly 30 years. She played regular roles in series such as The Adventurer, Looking For Clancy, One by One, Mog and Wish Me Luck, in addition to many guest appearances, including The Persuaders!, The Troubleshooters, Arthur of the Britons, Return of the Saint, The Sweeney, The Onedin Line, The Gentle Touch, Lovejoy, Bergerac, The Bill, Howards' Way and The Search for the Nile.
Schell appeared in the science-fiction series Space: 1999 as a robotic servant ("Guardian of Piri", 1975), and returned to the series in its second season as the regular character Maya, a shape-shifting "metamorph" from the planet Psychon. Schell appeared in another British science-fiction series, as Countess Scarlioni in the Doctor Who serial City of Death (1979).
Schell's brother, Paul Rudolf (born 1940), now known as Paul von Schell, has acted in a number of German-language productions. A younger brother, Peter (1941–68), died young. Through a German great-grandfather, Schell is related to Louis XIV of France (1638–1715), Philip II, Duke of Orléans (1674–1723), Regent of France and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor (1708–65). She is not believed to be related to the Austrian-Swiss actors Maximilian and Maria Schell.
While filming Amsterdam Affair in 1968, Schell met and married her first husband, British actor William Marlowe (1930–2003), and moved to London. The marriage ended in divorce in 1977. Schell married director Bill Hays (1938–2006) in 1982. In 1984, they worked together for the first time as husband and wife on a TV production of Ivan Turgenev's play A Month in the Country.
Schell's career continued into the mid-1990s, after which she retired from acting and opened Chambre d'Hôtes Valentin, a small guesthouse in Bonneval, Haute-Loire, France, which would become a popular destination for fans of Space: 1999. She reportedly sold the inn after the death of her second husband in 2006.
Schell made her first convention appearance at MainMission:2000, a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Space: 1999 held in New York City. To date, she has appeared at only one other convention, mainly due to her second husband's declining health.
Schell's autobiography A Constant Alien was published in 2016.
- Lana – Königin der Amazonen (1964) - Queen Lana
- Traitor's Gate (1964) - Hope Joyner
- Hell Is Empty (1967) - Catherine Grant
- Assignment K (1968) - Maggi (uncredited)
- Amsterdam Affair (1968) - Sophie Ray
- Moon Zero Two (1969) - Clementine
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - Nancy, a Hungarian Girl
- Madame Sin (1972) - Barbara
- The Black Windmill (1974) - Lady Melissa Julyan
- Callan (1974) - Jenny
- The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) - Lady Claudine Litton
- Gulliver's Travels (1977) - Mary
- Exposure (1978) - Caroline
- The Prisoner of Zenda (1979) - Antoinette
- The Island of Adventure (1982) - Alison Mannering
- On the Third Day (1983) - Clarissa Hammond
- On the Black Hill (1988) - Lotte Zons
- The March (1990) - Noelle Epps
- Piccolo grande amore (1993) - Countess Von Dix
- The Sweeney (1975) - Stella Goodman
- Space: 1999 (1976) - Maya
- Doctor Who (1979) - Countess Scarlioni in City of Death
- The Spoils of War (1980–1981) – Paula Brandt
- Dracula (2020) - Grand Duchess Valeria
- "The Making of Space:1999" by Tim Heald, Ballantine Books, 1976, ISBN 978-0345252654 (p. 60)
- Biography for Paul von Schell at imdb.com