Barbara Shelley, Hammer Films and Doctor Who actress, dies at 88

Clark Collis
·2 min read

Everett Collection

British actress Barbara Shelley has died at the age of 88 after contracting COVID-19, according to the BBC. Shelley was best known for appearing in horror movies produced by Hammer Films, including 1958's Blood of the Vampire, 1966's Dracula: Prince of Darkness, and 1967's Quatermass and the Pit. She also starred in 1960's non-Hammer horror classic Village of the Damned. Shelley's many small screen credits included the British TV shows Blake's 7, Doctor Who, and Eastenders.

Shelley spoke about her appearance in Dracula: Prince of Darkness, and her vampire character's demise, in the 2010 documentary series A History of Horror. "The scene that I'm most proud of is when she's staked," the actress told host Mark Gatiss. "There's absolute evil in there, when she's struggling, and then suddenly she's staked, and there is tremendous serenity. And I think that that is one of my best moments on film."

Those who have paid tribute to Shelley on Twitter include directors Joe Dante (Gremlins) and Axelle Carolyn (The Haunting of Bly Manor), as well as Nicola Bryant, who appeared with the actress in the Doctor Who adventure "Planet of Fire."

"So very sad to hear of the passing of Barbara Shelley," wrote Bryant. "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. Wise and wonderful lady."

"Goodbye to one of the classiest, most beautiful and underrated of all the genre actresses," wrote Dante.

"One of the greatest icons of British horror, Barbara Shelley, has passed away," wrote Carolyn. "She brought grace and strength to every role, from DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS and THE GORGON, to VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. Truly a great loss."

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