Ingrid Pitt, doyenne of horror films, dies at 73

First lady of scare

Ingrid Pitt. APSteffanie Pitt said her mother collapsed while on her way to a birthday dinner due to be held in her honour over the weekend. The cause of death wasn’t known, although Steffanie Pitt said her mother had recently been in poor health.

Known in Britain principally as the buxom bloodsucker in Vampire Lovers and Countess Dracula, Ingrid Pitt’s acting career very nearly wasn’t.

Born to a mother of Jewish descent, Pitt was interned in a Nazi concentration camp at the age of five. She survived the war, but was forced to flee Communist Berlin on the night of her stage debut.

Her movie career was jump-started by her role in the 1968 action-adventure movie, Where Eagles Dare. The World War II drama would eventually lead to her being taken on by Britain’s Hammer Films — home to Dracula.

Steffanie Pitt said her mother was a determined woman and that “acting was in her blood from the word go.”

Ingrid’s birth interrupted her parents’ attempts to flee Nazi Germany via Poland in 1937, delaying their attempt to escape to Britain.

Snared by the Germans, Pitt and her mother were interned at the Stutthof concentration camp. She survived the war and joined the Berliner Ensemble. But the political climate in East Germany didn’t suit her. She left Berlin on the night of her planned stage debut, diving into the Spree.

Pitt was rescued by a handsome US lieutenant, who she would later marry. Pitt moved to America, and — following the breakup of her marriage — to Spain. Discovered while watching a bullfight, a career in Hollywood and British horror would follow.

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