November 24, 2010 / 11:51 AM / 7 years ago

Ingrid Pitt, queen of Hammer horror films, dies

LONDON (Reuters) - Ingrid Pitt, seductive queen of the Hammer horror films who survived a Nazi concentration camp as a girl, has died aged 73, a spokesman for her agent said on Wednesday.

The actress started her screen career in the mid-1960s with roles in Spanish films and minor, uncredited parts in "Doctor Zhivago" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

She appeared in the 1968 classic "Where Eagles Dare" alongside Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, and five years later in the mystery drama "The Wicker Man."

But it was for her roles in erotic horror films "The Vampire Lovers" (1970) and "Countess Dracula" (1971) that she was best known in Britain.

"Underrated as both an actress and a writer, Pitt was a warm but stubbornly enigmatic figure," said Marcus Hearn, a historian of Hammer horror movies and a friend of the actress.

Pitt was also a writer, producing two novels set during the Peron era in Argentina and several horror-related works of fiction.

She was born in Poland in 1937 to a mother of Jewish descent, and was interned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War Two at the age of five -- an experience she recounted in her autobiography "Life's a Scream."

She told an interviewer in 2006 that she did not particularly enjoy watching horror movies.

"I was in a concentration camp as a child and I don't want to see horror," Pitt said. "I think it's very amazing that I do horror films when I had this awful childhood. But maybe that's why I'm good at it."

Her autobiography also describes Pitt's search for her father throughout the European Red Cross refugee camps and her escape from East Berlin, one step ahead of the police.

"I always had a big mouth and used to go on about the political schooling interrupting my quest for thespian glory," she wrote. "I used to think like that. Not good in a police state."

Pitt collapsed recently and died in London on Tuesday, shortly after her 73rd birthday.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato

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