Thursday, 2 December 2010

Ingrid Pitt 1937-2010

Putting the loss of the PC totally into perspective was the death last week of a lady I've been privileged to know as a friend for some 13 years.

I met Ingrid for the first time in April 1997 at the Memorabilia show in Birmingham's NEC. We had gone down to look at comic stalls and Fran had gone off with Gill down another aisle and I stopped in my tracks at the sight of two of my favourte ladies of film. Ingrid was sitting next to Caroline Munro. I'd been a fan of Caroline's since she was a model in the photographic press in the late 1960s. I'd been a fan of Ingrid's since seeing Where Eagles Dare at the cinema and a total fan after The Vampire Lovers of 1970.

So I said hello and took this photo which despite being the first photo I took of her, is still my favourite and I think was one of hers too as she used it on the cover of her fan magazine a few years later.

After that we bumped into each other once or twice a year at the Memorabilia fairs. On our second meeting she told me off for laughing when she told me someone was making a plastic kit of her in a nude pose from Countess Dracula. On our third meeting I joined her fan club and she made me come to sit next to her behind her stall and linked my arm as we talked.

Later that year we saw her again in Scotland and she met Fran for the first time. I was well aware of her wicked sense of humour by then and was again sitting next to her behind the stall when Fran turned up after searching for beanies and craft stuff.

"Oh! Is this your wifey?" she asked with a touch of impish delight in her voice.
"Yes!" I said, "so behave!"

"I'll give her something to photograph!" she declared and lunged at me in full-on vampire mode.

This was 2003. By now her husband Tony - the most wonderfully laid-back and likeable man - used to look for me turning up and would leave me to look after Ingrid whilst he had a turn around the rest of the stalls himself.

She had a field day with this jumper, taking great delight in zipping it up and down at such a rate that the friction was causing the hairs on my chest to smoke...

I started to write articles for the fan club magazine and got the occasional email from Tony who looked in vain for support for laptop problems - I know nothing about Macs and that's what they had. I think he just needed a sympathetic ear sometimes!

One of the best memories of Ingrid - and I'll not say a lot here as I'll do another entry in detail - was going up to Scotland on the 30th anniversary of the filming of The Wicker Man to surprise her as she was giving an interview in front of an audience and then introducing a showing of the film the following night.

That weekend was just so memorable for so many incidents it needs an entry to itself. But here is Ingrid in front of a burning Wicker Man, lapping up the adoration of a large crowd through which Tony and I had just dashed. She was loving it and flashguns were popping all the time. This was Ingrid the film star.

The last time we saw her was at her birthday party in 2008. The birthday parties were always memorable. Caroline was almost always there and we'd fallen into a habit of sharing a taxi back with her to drop her off at home before carrying onto our hotel.

One year I found myself sitting next to actress Fenella Fielding whilst being opposite the beautiful photographer and ex-model, Maureen Barrymore and, had looks been able to kill, would have shrivelled up and burnt due to the jealous looks from most of the other males in the room!

Ingrid loved a good story and after one of her friends in America featured my band, Creeping Bentgrass in a rave of a review in magazine Mondo Cult (thanks Jessie!) she announced to everyone at her party that year that we had "made it in America!".

Tony came round to where we were sitting a while later when the speeches were done and bent down to my ear.
"How many albums have you sold in America then?" he asked.
"One..." I said.

Ingrid Pitt had spent part of her childhood in a German concentration camp during the war. She lived with partisans in the forests of what became the Eastern Block. Found herself on the eastern side of the Wall but escaped to the West. Started making films in Spain and Argentina. Was left alone in a vault with Eva Peron's body to experience something... "Well I don't know what she (her hostess who had led her to the vault) wanted me to experience but I didn't!". Had wonderful stories of Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, John Wayne and Yakima Cannutt. Karate trained with Elvis(!!!) Became an icon of the sexy vampire in the 1970s. Became an accomplished writer with books and numerous magazine credits. Was a cherished friend. I'm going to miss her. A lot.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely remembrance. I'm jealous. Here's my appreciation of this wonderful actress:


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