Kate O'Mara

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Kate O'Mara
Actress Kate O'Mara.jpg
Born
Francesca Meredith Carroll[1]

(1939-08-10)10 August 1939
Died30 March 2014(2014-03-30) (aged 74)
Sussex, England, UK
OccupationActress, writer
Years active1963–2012
Spouse(s)
(m. 1971; div. 1976)

Richard Willis
(m. 1993; div. 1996)
ChildrenDickon Young, Christopher Linde
RelativesBelinda Carroll (sister)

Kate O'Mara (born Francesca Meredith Carroll; 10 August 1939 – 30 March 2014) was an English film, stage and television actress, and writer. 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).

In the cinema, O'Mara acted in two 1970 Hammer Horror films: The Vampire Lovers and The Horror of Frankenstein. On BBC television, she had regular roles in The Brothers (1975–1976), Triangle (1981–1982) and Howards' Way (1989–1990), and portrayed Doctor Who villain the Rani three times (1985–1993). She also appeared as Jackie Stone in two episodes of the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous (1995–2003). On American television, she played Caress Morell, the scheming sister of Alexis Colby in the primetime soap opera Dynasty (1986).

Early life and career[edit]

O'Mara was born to John F. Carroll, an RAF flying instructor, and actress Hazel Bainbridge (born Edith Marion Bainbridge; 25 January 1910 – 7 January 1998). Her younger sister is actress Belinda Carroll. After boarding school she attended art school before becoming a full-time actress.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[4]

Her first major TV role was as Julia Main, wife of the main protagonist in the ITV series The Main Chance (1969). She had a regular role in the BBC drama series The Brothers (1975–1976) as Jane Maxwell, and in the early 1980s, O'Mara starred in the BBC soap opera Triangle (1981–1982), sometimes counted among the worst television series ever made.[5] She played the villainous Rani in Doctor Who in two serials, The Mark of the Rani (1985) and Time and the Rani (1987), and also in the Doctor Who 30th anniversary spoof Dimensions in Time (1993), part of the Children in Need charity event.[6]

Between these appearances in Doctor Who, she auditioned for the role of Sable Colby on the American primetime soap The Colbys, a spin-off of the American prime time soap opera Dynasty. Eventually, O'Mara declined the role since she was under contract with London stage play Light Up the Sky at the Old Vic Theatre, and the role went to Stephanie Beacham. Shortly after, she was offered the part of Caress Morell on Dynasty.[7] 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.”[5] O'Mara disliked living in California, preferring the change of seasons in Britain, and to her relief was released from her five-year contract after Collins told the producers that having two brunettes in the series was a bad idea.[5] After returning to the UK, she was cast as another scheming villain, Laura Wilde, in the BBC soap Howards' Way (1989–1990).[8]

Later life and career[edit]

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

O'Mara spoke on several occasions about her experience with the casting couch. On an episode of The Word in 1994, O'Mara claimed that American producer Judd Bernard pulled down her panties during a hotel-room audition for the Elvis Presley vehicle Double Trouble.[9] In her autobiography Vamp Until Ready: A Life Laid Bare, O'Mara described this incident[10] and "many other close encounters with... this very unpleasant and humiliating procedure",[11] including with a well-known television casting director,[12] the boss of Associated Television at ATV Elstree Studios,[13] and the director of Great Catherine.[14]

O'Mara continued to make television appearances throughout the 1990s, including Cluedo (1990), and playing Jackie Stone (Patsy's older sister) in two episodes of Absolutely Fabulous (1995–2003). 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.[15]

In 2012, O'Mara appeared in a theatre adaptation of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile.[16]

Personal life[edit]

O'Mara was married twice, first to Jeremy Young in 1971; the couple divorced in 1976. In 1993, she married Richard Willis, but the marriage was dissolved in 1996.[17] She had two sons, Dickon Young (1964–2012) and Christopher Linde (born 1965), both from previous relationships, although Dickon took his stepfather's surname. She gave up Linde for adoption and he was named by his adoptive parents, Derek and Joy Linde.[18]

Christopher, from whom the actress was long estranged, was born from her relationship with actor David Orchard.[citation needed]

Dickon, whose biological father was reportedly actor Ian Cullen,[citation needed] was 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, a presumed suicide, at the family home in Long Marston, Warwickshire, on 31 December 2012, after previous suicide attempts.[18] O'Mara was in hospital with pneumonia at the time of her son's death and his body was not discovered for three weeks.[citation needed]

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).

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."[19]

Death[edit]

O'Mara died on 30 March 2014 in a Sussex nursing home, aged 74, from ovarian cancer. She left a £350,000 estate, bequeathing £10,000 to the Actors’ Benevolent Fund and, after the funeral and legal fees, the remainder to her younger sister Belinda Carroll, a former actress.[20][21]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1956 Home and Away Annie Knowles As Merrie Carroll
1962 Captain Clegg Girl at Inn Uncredited
1967 Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond Miss Moneypenny's assistant Uncredited
1968 Corruption Val Nolan
Great Catherine Varinka Gordon Flemyng film
The Limbo Line Irina Tovskia
1969 The Desperados Adah Henry Levin film
1970 The Vampire Lovers The Governess (Mme. Perrodot) Roy Ward Baker film
Cannon for Cordoba Ruby
The Horror of Frankenstein Alys Jimmy Sangster film
1974 The Tamarind Seed Anna Skriabina Blake Edwards film
Feelings Barbara Martin Gerry O'Hara film
1976 Machinegunner Pat Livingston
1978 An Unknown Friend Karen Lindén
The Nativity Salome
1992 Aladdin Madam Roly Poly Voice
Beauty and the Beast Lucinda Voice
1999 The Road to Ithaca Despina

Television[edit]

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...
1965 Hereward the Wake Richilda Episode: The Court of Love
1966 Court Martial Episode: Logistics of Survival
1966 Weavers Green Mick Armstrong
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 Champions Jane Purcell Episode: To Catch a Rat
1969 The Avengers Lisa Episode: Stay Tuned
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 Adventures of Don Quick Peleen Episode: People isn't Everything
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 The Protectors Sarah Trent Episode: A Pocketful of Posies
1975–
1976
The Brothers Jane Maxwell 30 episodes
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 Return of the Saint Jeanette Episode: Assault Force
1979 The Plank 'It's Paint' Woman
1981–
1982
Triangle Katherine Laker 27 episodes
1985–
1987
Doctor Who The Rani 6 episodes (2 Stories)
1986 Dempsey and Makepeace Joyce Hargreaves Episode: Guardian Angels
1986 Dynasty Cassandra "Caress" Morell Recurring (Seasons 6–7)
1987 Great Catherine Varinka
1989–
1990
Howards' Way Laura Wilde 26 episodes
1990 Cluedo Mrs. Peacock Episode: Christmas Past, Christmas Present
1992 Aladdin (Not Disney) 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 Guest appearance
1995–
2003
Absolutely Fabulous Jackie Stone 2 episodes
1997 The New Adventures of Robin Hood Lady Isabelle Episode: Marion to the Rescue
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, (final appearance)

Select stage roles[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Michael Coveney Obituary: Kate O'Mara, The Guardian, 30 March 2014
  2. ^ "She's not a superbitch after all". Edinburgh Evening News. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  3. ^ Kate O'Mara at IMDb
  4. ^ a b Robert Michael 'Bobb' Cotter The Women of Hammer Horror: A Biographical Dictionary and Filmography, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2013, p. 142
  5. ^ a b c Obituary; Kate O'Mara, Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2014
  6. ^ Emma G. Fitzsimmons "Kate O’Mara, a Schemer on ‘Dynasty’, Dies at 74", New York Times, 30 March 2014.
  7. ^ Charles, Marissa (27 October 2009). "Kate O'Mara". Metro News. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  8. ^ "Dynasty star Kate O'Mara dies". BBC News. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  9. ^ The Word (17 March 1994), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRaBWCJWgMs#t=3m28s
  10. ^ O'Mara 2003, p. 61
  11. ^ O'Mara 2003, p. 32
  12. ^ O'Mara 2003, pp. 32–33
  13. ^ O'Mara 2003, pp. 34–35
  14. ^ O'Mara 2003, pp. 41–42
  15. ^ "Nebulous". BBC comedy. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Dynasty star Kate O'Mara dies". BBC News. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Kate O'Mara - obituary". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Kate O'Mara 'beyond distraught' over son's suspected suicide". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 3 January 2013. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  19. ^ Kate O'Mara profile, aveleyman.com; accessed 11 May 2014.
  20. ^ "Dynasty and Triangle star Kate O'Mara dies aged 74". Itv.com. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  21. ^ Coveney, Michael (30 March 2014). "Kate O'Mara obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  22. ^ "The Avengers Declassified: The Stage Show". Declassified.theavengers.tv. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014.

Bibliography[edit]

  • O'Mara, Kate (2003). Vamp Until Ready: A Life Laid Bare. Robson Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1861057006.

External links[edit]