Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Memories of Ingrid Pitt.

I offer apologies for so often turning this “blog” into a class of obituary page, but mention should be made of the great Ingrid Pitt. The lively Polish-born actor, who has died at the age of 73, was best known …

Thu, Nov 25, 2010, 20:53

   

I offer apologies for so often turning this “blog” into a class of obituary page, but mention should be made of the great Ingrid Pitt. The lively Polish-born actor, who has died at the age of 73, was best known for series of British horror films from the  early 1970s. A million teenage boys (now bald saddos) experienced their first sexual frisson while watching Ms Pitt, dressed in cape and plunging neckline, pressing her canines to blameless necks in Vampire Lovers (1970) and Countess Dracula (1971). She also poppped up briefly in The Wicker Man and — let’s make one more nod to a Screenwriter obsession — the BBC’s adaptation of John Le Carré’s Smiley’s People.

None of the stories in her films were, however, quite so striking as the tale of her own extraordinary life. Imprisoned in a concentration camp as a child, Pitt  managed to escape when she and her mother were taken into the forest to be shot. They later lived with the Partisans before making their way to Berlin where — you couldn’t make it up — she spent some time acting with Bertolt Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble. She never got on with the Soviet regime and eventually swam across the icy river and escaped to the west. Quite a woman.

I was lucky enough to meet her about five years ago. The venue was the slightly tacky Bram Stoker Dracula Experience in Clontarf. We chatted about her amazing life. She reminisced about Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. She signed my copy of her unmissable (you can imagine) autobiography Life’s a Scream. All the while, her charming husband, a tweedy Englishman with the demeanour of a retired Spitfire pilot, stood calmly by the window, rocking gently on his heels.

The highlight of the interview came when I said goodbye. Ms Pitt lent into me, peeled back her lips and — No. Hang on. This can’t be right. — began chewing on the nape of my neck. Her husband smiled tolerantly as she nibbled away. Of course, having attended a million horror conventions, he realised this was all part of her act. All those bearded men in black tee shirts longed to be bitten by the preeminent female vampire of her generation. It was a discombobulating experience, but it confirmed that Ms Pitt was a special type of professional.

Pożegnalny, Countess.

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