One of the all-time greats from the horror genre is no longer with us as Hammer Horror legend Barbara Shelley has passed away. The veteran actress, who was still consistently receiving fan mail praising her classic work, was admitted to the hospital in December and subsequently caught Covid-19. Shelley managed to beat the disease, but "underlying issues" led to her passing soon after. She was 88 years old.
"She really was Hammer's number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer," said Thomas Bowington, Shelley's agent. "On screen she could be quietly evil. She goes from statuesque beauty to just animalistic wildness. She was a regular favourite of Hammer events and autograph shows but also performed on stage with the RSC. She adored Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and loved working with them, that was very dear to her."
Actress Nicola Bryant, who worked with Shelley on Doctor Who, also addressed the news of her passing. She said, "So very sad to hear of the passing of Barbara Shelley. A darling person and a talented actress. When we worked together on Planet of Fire she was so kind to me. She gave me a little owl, still in my possession and some good advice. RIP Barbara Shelley. Wise and wonderful lady."
Known as "The First Leading Lady of British Horror," Shelley is best known as Hammer Horror's number-one female star, appearing in a variety of classic genre flicks made by the production company. This includes roles in The Gorgon, Dracula, Prince of Darkness, Rasputin, the Mad Monk, The Secret of Blood Island, and Quatermass and the Pit. The legendary scream queen also had memorable roles in other classic horror movies like Blood of the Vampire, Ghost Story, and Village of the Damned.
Shelley had also spent several years working on the small screen, which includes a role in the Doctor Who serial Planet of Fire. She also had roles in shows like The Saint, The Avengers, Blake's 7, The Borgias, 12 O'Clock High, and EastEnders. In 2010, she was interviewed about her career for the BBC documentary series A History of Horror. In a separate interview with Express, Shelley also recalls being told at a sci-fi convention that fans loved her for always playing the strong woman.
"Which I thought was a brilliant thing to have said about one," Shelley said. "I never thought of it in that way. The fact that I'm still getting mail from my horror fan base really touches me." The legend added, "No one told me I was beautiful. They said I was photogenic but no one said I was beautiful. If they had I would have had a lot more fun!"
At this time, our thoughts go out to everyone who knew Shelley and is now mourning her passing. As a legend of the screen and one of the horror genre's greatest scream queens of all-time, Shelley will always be remembered. May she rest in peace. This news comes to us from the Daily Mail.