O'Mara in the trailer for The Vampire Lovers
|Born||Frances Meredith Carroll
10 August 1939
Leicester, Leicestershire, England, UK
|Died||30 March 2014
Sussex, England, UK
|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 films: The Vampire Lovers and The Horror of Frankenstein. On television, she had regular roles in The Brothers (1975–76), Triangle (1981-82) and Howards' Way (1989–90), and portrayed the recurring part of the Rani in Doctor Who (1985–87). She also appeared as Jackie Stone in two episodes of the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.
Early life and career
O'Mara was born Frances Meredith Carroll to John F. Carroll, an RAF flying instructor, and actress Hazel Bainbridge (born Edith M H A Bainbridge; 1909/1910 – died 7 January 1998). Her younger sister is actress Belinda Carroll. After boarding school she attended art school before becoming a full-time actress.
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.
Her earliest television appearances, in the 1960s, included guest roles in Danger Man, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Saint, Z-Cars and The Avengers. 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. 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.
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. She played the villainous Rani in Doctor Who. 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. 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.” 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. After returning to the UK, she was cast as another scheming villain, Laura Wilde, in the BBC soap Howards' Way (1989–90).
Later life and career
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. In her autobiography Vamp Until Ready: A Life Laid Bare, O'Mara described this incident and "many other close encounters with... this very unpleasant and humiliating procedure", including with a well-known television casting director, the boss of Associated Television at Elstree Studios, and the director of Great Catherine.
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.
She became a vegetarian and animal rights activist.
O'Mara was married twice, first to Jeremy Young in 1961; the couple divorced in 1976. In 1993, she married Richard Willis, but the marriage was dissolved in 1996. 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.
Son Linde, from whom the actress was long estranged, was born from her relationship with actor David Orchard. Son Young, whose biological father was reportedly actor Ian Cullen, 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. O'Mara was hospitalised with pneumonia at the time of her son's death and his body was not discovered for three weeks.
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."
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.
Film and television credits
|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|
|The Saint||Annabelle/Nadine/Yvette||Episodes: Double Take, Counterfeit Countess, Fast Women|
|Z-Cars||Kate/Mae Astell||4 episodes|
|1968||The Limbo Line||Irina Tovskia|
|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||The Protectors||Sarah Trent||Episode: A Pocketful of Posies|
|1974||The Tamarind Seed||Anna Skriabina||Blake Edwards film|
|1975||Feelings||Barbara Martin||Gerry O'Hara film|
|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||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|
|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|
|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||2 mini episodes|
|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
- 1963, Jessica, The Merchant of Venice at Lady Macduff Shakespeare for Schools Co.
- 1966, Lydia Languish, The Rivals at The Welsh Theatre Co.
- 1967, Elsa, The Italian Girl at the Wyndham's Theatre
- 1970, Fleda Vetch, The Spoils of Poynton at the Mayfair Theatre
- 1971, Gerda Von Metz, The Avengers (directed by Leslie Phillips) at the Prince of Wales Theatre
- 1971-2, Sheila Wallis, Suddenly at Home at the Fortune Theatre
- 1974, Elvira, Blithe Spirit at the Bristol Old Vic
- 1974, Liza Moriarty, Sherlock's Last Case at the Open Space Theatre Fortune Theatre
- 1977, Sybil Merton, Lord Arthur Saville's Crime at the Sadlers Wells Theatre
- 1977, Louka, Arms and the Man at the Hong Kong Festival
- 1978, Rosaline, Loves Labour's Lost at the Thorndike Theatre
- 1978, Katherina, The Taming of the Shrew at the Ludlow Festival
- 1978, Cyrenne, Rattle of a Simple Man
- 1979, Monica Claverton- Ferry, The Elder Statesman
- 1979, Lina, Misalliance at The Birmingham Rep
- 1979, Irene St Clair, The Crucifer of Blood at the Haymarket Theatre
- 1980, Ruth, Night and Day, at post-London tour
- 1981, Stephanie Abrahams, Duet for One Yugoslavia and tour
- 1981, Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing at the New Shakespeare Co
- 1982, Kathrina, The Taming of the Shrew at the Nottingham Playhouse\New Shakespeare Co
- 1982, Titania\Hippolta, A Midsummer Night's Dream at the New Shakespeare Co
- 1982, Lady Macbeth, Macbeth at the Mercury Theatre
- 1982, Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra at the Nottingham Playhouse
- 1982, Millamant, The Way of the World at the Nottingham Playhouse
- 1983, Hortense, The Rehearsal
- 1984, Mistress Ford, The Merry Wives of Windsor at the New Shakespeare Co
- 1985 – 1987, Frances Black, Light Up the Sky at the Old Vic & Globe Theatres
- 1987, Goneril, King Lear at the Compass Theatre
- 1988, Berinthia, The Relapse at the Mermaid Theatre
- 1990, Torfreida, The Last Englishman at The Orange Tree Theatre
- 1990, Martha, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
- 1991, Lilli Vanessi, Kiss Me Kate, RSC tour
- 1992, Lady Fanciful, The Provok'd Wife at the National Theatre Studio
- 1992, Rosabel, Venus Observed at the Chichester Festival
- 1992, Eve, Cain at the Chichester Festival
- 1992, Jackie, King Lear in New York at the Chichester Festival
- 1994, Maria Wislack, On Approval
- 1995, Pola, The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles at The Orange Tree Theatre
- 1995, Rachel, My Cousin Rachel, English Theatre, Vienna and tour 1995
- 1996, Olivia, Twelfth Night at the Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke
- 1996-7, Mrs Cheveley, An Ideal Husband at the Haymarket, Albury and Gielgud theatres
- 2000, Mrs. Malaprop\Lucy, The Rivals
- 2000, Madame Alexandre, Colombe at the Salisbury Playhouse
- 2003, Gertrude Lawrence, Noel and Gertie
- 2004, Mrs Arbuthnot, A Woman of No Importance
- 2005, Eloise, The Marquise at the Mercury Theatre
- 2005, Helen, We Happy Few at the Gielgud Theatre
- 2008, Marlene Dietrich, Lunch with Marlene at The New End Theatre
- 2010, Lady Windermere, Lord Arthur Saville's Crime at the Mercury Theatre
- Michael Coveney Obituary: Kate O'Mara, The Guardian, 30 March 2014
- "She’s not a superbitch after all". Edinburgh Evening News. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- Kate O'Mara at the Internet Movie Database
- Robert Michael 'Bobb' Cotter The Women of Hammer Horror: A Biographical Dictionary and Filmography, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2013, p. 142
- Obituary; Kate O'Mara, Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2014
- Emma G. Fitzsimmons "Kate O’Mara, a Schemer on ‘Dynasty’, Dies at 74", New York Times, 30 March 2014.
- Charles, Marissa (27 October 2009). "Kate O'Mara". Metro News. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- "Dynasty star Kate O'Mara dies". BBC News. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
- The Word (17 March 1994), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRaBWCJWgMs#t=3m28s
- O'Mara 2003, p. 61
- O'Mara 2003, p. 32
- O'Mara 2003, p. 32–33
- O'Mara 2003, p. 34–35
- O'Mara 2003, p. 41–42
- "Nebulous". BBC comedy. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
- Webber, Richard (2010). "The shape I'm in: Kate O'Mara". Mail Online. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- "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.
- "She was the worst mother ever': Bitter wrath of the son Dynasty star Kate O'Mara dumped... and left without a penny". Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
- "Kate O'Mara's secret lover and his guilt over the son they couldn't save; Ian Cullen comes forward to tell haunting story", dailymail.co.uk; accessed 16 April 2015.
- 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.
- Kate O'Mara profile, aveleyman.com; accessed 11 May 2014.
- "Dynasty and Triangle star Kate O'Mara dies aged 74". Itv.com. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
- Coveney, Michael. "Kate O'Mara obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- "The Avengers Declassified: The Stage Show". Declassified.theavengers.tv. Retrieved 31 March 2014.