Barbara Shelley photo

Barbara Shelley

Birth name:
Date of Birth:
15 August 1933 London, England, UK
5' 6" (1.68 m)
The sexy lady subsequently dubbed "The First Leading Lady of British Horror" was born Barbara Kowin in 1933 in London, England. With her beautiful looks and stature, she worked as a model during her salad days. Her film career began in Italy in the mid-1950s in such tempting fare as Luna nuova (1955) [New Moon] and Mio figlio Nerone (1956) [Nero's Mistress], but when it seemed like she was going to remain in the minor ranks, she returned to England to try her better her career. After appearing in the minor sex farce The Little Hut (1957) with Stewart Granger, David Niven and Ava Gardner, Barbara caught a bit of film notoriety in the title role of Cat Girl (1957), a low budget production in which she played a woman possessed by a family curse who develops psychic links with a leopard. This paid off and she quickly evolved into a popular Gothic glamour woman at Hammer Studios. Starting things off with The Camp on Blood Island (1958) and Blood of the Vampire (1958), the lovely actress proceeded to stake out her own lucrative territory in the horror genres. Throughout the 1960s she co-starred in the classic Village of the Damned (1960), along with Shadow of the Cat (1961), The Gorgon (1964), The Secret of Blood Island (1964) (which was the sequel to her aforementioned Camp on Blood Island), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966) and Quatermass and the Pit (1967). By the late 60s, however, Barbara's film career had fallen aside and she turned to TV. Retired now, she has pursued interior decorating in recent years. Whether playing female monsters or their intended victims, Barbara played it straight and handled it all with requisite style and grace. For this, she is now occasionally seen by film fans at conventions as an integral figure of camp horror history.
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