Glory was starstruck at a young age and fell in love with classic Hollywood movies and movie stars and loves writing about both!
Bosoms and Bloodshed!
When thinking about Hammer's gothic horror films, it's not uncommon for names like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to come to mind. However, you might also find yourself thinking about the bevy of beautiful women who often found themselves menaced by creatures of the undead.
Let's take a look at 10 of these lovely ladies who gained fame and recognition for their contributions to Hammer's horror films.
1. Ursula Andress
Ursula arrived in the US in 1955 after working in several Italian films. She was signed by Paramount Studios for a seven-year contract despite the fact that she couldn't speak English. When the studio seemed to forget about her, she bought herself out of her contract and signed with Columbia Studios. She didn't make any films with them either.
Things changed when she met actor John Derek; the couple would get married in 1957. In 1962, she became a Bond girl, playing Honey Ryder in the first James Bond feature film Dr. No. As a result of the success of the film, she had the freedom to be picky about the films she worked in. She would go on to star with Elvis Presley in the 1963 musical comedy Fun in Acapulco, then with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in 4 For Texas. She would star with her husband in Nightmare in the Sun in 1965.
Ursula's ties to Hammer film came in the form of the film She. She had the role of Queen Ayesha (her name translates to She-Who-Waits), who rules over the kingdom of Kuma. She awaits the return on her soul mate, Kallikrates, whom she killed 2,000 years prior when she found him in the passionate embrace of another woman. The movie had a sequel that Andress chose to not participate in.
2. Veronica Carlson
Born September 18, 1944, in Yorkshire, England, as Veronica Mary Glazer, Veronica Carlson spent much of her youth in Germany as her father was stationed there.
Veronica did some theater in college and eventually found a few roles in films and television shows. Her association with Hammer films started when James Carreras, the head of Hammer, saw a photo of her in a newspaper article. He offered her a role in the 1968 film Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, which co-starred Christopher Lee.
She would work in two more Hammer films; Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) with Peter Cushing and The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) with David Prowse (who would go on to gain fame as Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy).
Veronica married Sydney Love in 1974, and they moved to the US where she had a successful career as a painter.
In 2019, she came out of retirement to work in the film The House of Gorgon. It was released in the UK on January 25, 2019.
3. Susan Denberg
Born Dietlinde Zechner in Bad Polzin, Germany, Susan Denberg grew up in Austria.
She became a dancer while living in London, and then she eventually found her way to the US where she worked as a dancer in Las Vegas.
She moved to Los Angeles, California, in the mid-60s and got a part in an episode of 12 O'Clock High in 1966. She also got a part in an episode of Star Trek called "Mudd's Women."
In the August 1966 issue of Playboy, Susan was that month's Playmate of the Month.
Her most famous role was in the 1967 Hammer science fiction horror film, Frankenstein Created Woman. Because her Austrian accent was so thick, her voice was dubbed in the film.
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A series of untrue rumors surrounded Susan, including that she had become addicted to drugs and died of an overdose in 1967. Another rumor is that she became mentally unstable because of drug use. You should know that she is very much alive and well. She lives in Austria under her birth name.
4. Julie Ege
Born on November 12, 1943, in Sandnes, Norway, the lovely Julie Ege started modeling at age 15. In 1962, she found herself crowned Miss Norway, eventually competing for the Miss Universe title at the pageant held in Florida.
In 1967, she went to England to seek work as an au pair in hopes to improving her English skills. Several months later, she was chosen as a model for Penthouse magazine.
In 1971, she was cast in the Hammer film Creatures the World Forgot as the sexy cave-girl Nala. She wasn't happy with the role, saying that she was made to wear an awful wig and bikini. She was also smeared with dirt. To top it off, the film was a flop at the box office. But Ege soon went on to become a popular pin up girl.
In 1971, she was cast as Voluptua in Up Pompeii, a big screen version of the Frankie Howard television series. In 1974, she was back at work for Hammer, starring in the Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires.
In 1980, she retired from acting and trained to become a nurse. In 1986, she was successfully treated for breast cancer and then for lung cancer in 2002. Sadly, her breast cancer returned, and she died from the disease on April 29, 2008, at age 64.
5. Jenny Hanley
As the daughter of actors Dinah Sheridan and Jimmy Hanley, it seemed only natural that this lovely young lady would follow in their footsteps.
Her first feature film was in the 1968 British drama, Joanna. In 1969, she appeared in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service as one of Blofeld's Angels of Death, 12 beautiful women from around the world who had been brainwashed into helping spread the deadly Virus Omega, which would sterilize the world's food supply (unless certain conditions were met, naturally).
In 1970, she had a small role in the film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Her best-known role was as Sarah Framsen in Hammer's Scars of Dracula (1970).
6. Imogen Hassall
The lovely Imogen Hassall was interested in the theater at a young age. By the time 1960 rolled around, she was studying at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She would later join the Royal Shakespeare Company for a year.
In the 1960s, she got small parts in popular British TV series like The Saint, The Avengers, and The Persuaders!
Her first film role of note was in The Long Duel in 1967. She would gain even more attention as the cave girl in the 1970 film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. She had a role in the 1970 film Carry on Loving (the 20th film in the Carry On series).
In 1972, Hassell had a relationship with actor Kenneth Ives, which resulted in the birth of a baby girl they named Melanie Ives Hassel. She tragically died four days after being born. The couple would eventually marry in 1974, and they would remain together until 1978. In 1979, she married actor Andrew Knox. She soon became pregnant, but she suffered a miscarriage. She and Knox would then split up just a few months later.
Sadly, on November 16, 1980, while suffering from depression because of the loss of her baby and her failed marriage to Knox, Hassall was found dead in her cottage in Wimbledon, London, England. She had committed suicide.
7. Caroline Munro
Caroline Munro is an actress and singer who starred in a variety of movie roles in the 70s and 80s. She started out as a model at age 17 with some work for Vogue magazine.
She moved to London to pursue her modeling career and eventually became a very popular model for fashion and TV advertisements. She then managed to get very small parts in films thanks to her attractiveness. She signed a contract with Paramount Studio and starred as Richard Widmark's daughter in the 1969 film A Talent For Loving.
In 1971, she would star alongside horror master Vincent Price in the film The Abominable Dr. Phibes as Victoria Regina Phibes. While she was uncredited in the film, she did return for the 1972 sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again. In 1972, while working in the Hammer horror film Dracula A.D. 1972, she decided that she wanted to work as an actress full time. Up to that point, she more known for her modeling career than for her acting. She would work in one more Hammer Studio production, Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter, in 1974.
She would continue to work in British and American films well into the 1980s. By the time the 1990s rolled around, her career had slowed down into making mostly cameo appearances.
In 2018, she teamed with her Dracula A.D. 72 co-star Christopher Neame for an appearance in the film House of the Gorgon.
8. Ingrid Pitt
Born as Ingoushka Petrov in Poland in 1937 to a German father and Polish mother, Ingrid Pitt and her family were imprisoned in a concentration camp for three years during World War II. (Although in some interviews, Ingrid stated that much of what was written about her life in Poland was nonsense and complete drivel made up for publicity by Hollywood studios.) (1)
She began acting on the stage in East Berlin. Her film debut, which was uncredited, was in the 1965 Orson Wells film Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight). She would also have another uncredited role in the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago.
In 1968, she got the role of Heidi in the Clint Eastwood film Where Eagles Dare. The executives at Hammer saw her work and thought she was perfect for the role of Mircalla, the seductive vampire in their 1970 film The Vampire Lovers. In 1971, she was cast as Countess Elisabeth Nádasdy in Countess Dracula, another Hammer film.
In 1971, she starred in the anthology movie The House That Dripped Blood. Her screen time came in the fourth installment titled The Cloak, which co-starred Jon Pertwee. She would continue to work into the 2000s, mostly in TV appearances. She was also a fan favorite at many horror conventions and fan gatherings.
On November 23, 2010, Ingrid died at age 73, just a few days after her birthday.
(1) Blakely, Thomas. "Ingrid Pitt Debunks Publicity." The Pittsburgh Press 16 Feb. 1969: 13. Print.
9. Madeline Smith
Madeline began her career as a model in the 60s, which eventually led to her getting parts in films, theater productions, and television shows. Her first Hammer film was in 1969's Taste the Blood of Dracula, which was banned in a few countries for being too violent and indecent. In 1970, she starred in The Vampire Lovers, which was somewhat daring for its time as it depicted the idea of lesbian vampires. In 1972 (though released in 1974), she had a role in Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell.
Branching out from horror, she had a role in the Bond film Live and Let Die, which was Roger Moore's first outing as James Bond. She was credited in the film as simply "Beautiful Girl." Moore had recommended Madeline for the role after working with her in an episode of his television series The Persuaders! After giving birth to a daughter, she decided to cut down on her time in front of the camera and spend more time with her family. Sadly, her husband, actor David Buck, died of cancer in 1989.
She returned to the world of acting in 2011 with a role in the BBC1 series Doctors.
10. Raquel Welch
You might not remember it, but Raquel Welch worked in the Hammer film One Million Years B.C.. While she was under contract to 20th Century Fox, they loaned her to Hammer, and the result was the adventure fantasy film filled with dinosaurs and cavemen.
Supposedly, Welch's role of Loana had first been offered to Ursula Andress, who turned it down because of salary demands.
The publicity photos of Welch wearing a fur-lined bikini made her into one of the most popular pin-up queens in 60s.
Well, that is it, our very brief look at 10 lovely actresses associated with Hammer films. This certainly is not an all-inclusive list and is not meant to be taken as a biography of any of the lovely actresses listed.
Feel free to tell us about your favorite Hammer actress. Please keep comments on topic. Comments are moderated and will not appear until they have been approved. This is done in order to keep this page reader friendly. Thanks for understanding.
© 2014 Glory Miller