"I was in a concentration camp as a child and I don't want to see horror. I think it's amazing that I do horror films when I had this awful childhood. But maybe that's why I'm good at it."
The horror of reality often is what brings an artist to the world of horror fantasy, the uncontrollable is now the controlled. The horror becomes something tangible that the individual becomes a willing participant in. With a different start to her life, maybe Ingrid Pitt would have found herself in a completely different world, but as a fan of her work, I'm glad that the Queen of Horror, the infamous Hammer Films vampire, took the path that she did.
"I'm mad about breasts, especially mine."
Ingrid Pitt was born November 21, 1937, in Warsaw, Poland as Ingoushka Petrov. Her father was a scientist who refused to give his skills to Hilter for the purpose of destroying England, a place that he had lived and deeply loved. A combination of that act of resistance with the fact that her mother was Jewish, brought the family into the most horrific monstrous cruelty that shook the world which was the concentration camps of World War II. At one point in their camp of Stutthoff in Poland, her mother and her were taken to the gas chambers. For some reason that she never knew, the chamber never worked and after being in there for four hours with her mother protectively holding her, they were released.
The two would leave the camp with other survivors, shocked that they were even freed and start to flee. A deep love of the forest started that day for Ingrid when she left the chamber and traveled in the forest. It would be over a year before her mother and her were reunited with their father, who was found in a cellar in Berlin. He had been sent to a camp for intellectuals, his body became thin and bent. After this she would still have a few years with him in her life before his death. Throughout her life, Ingrid would never forget the real life horrors of that experience, the fear that at any moment she and her family would be killed.
"I tried to get away from reality by imagining I was somebody else, somewhere else"
The family would reclaim their home in Berlin that had been taken from them during the war and for the first time, Ingrid would go to school. Her original ambition had been to become a doctor, but the thought of dissecting living animals and the pain of seeing people in pain from illnesses was something that she was not interested in. Instead, she decided that she would become an actress. Her training would come from the Berlin Ensemble, but speaking her mind politically would get her into trouble. One night the police were sent to arrest her during a performance. She was able to convince them to allow her to finish the show, which allowed her enough time to escape across the boarder in the West and to the United States.
"It's great meeting the fans. They say I'm more beautiful now than I was 25 years ago. All lies of course, but sweet. Where else is an old bag like me going to find strapping young men and women to whisper sweet nothings in her ear?"
Lee Strasberg would become her acting teacher in America. He loved her ability in horror, but the two got into a heated argument. He believed that his students should remove their clothes to remove inhibitions and Ingrid disagreed. Being screamed at only reminded her of the treatment she received by the Nazis in the camps. She was playing minor television roles at the time, until a poker game with John Wayne. He became interested in Ingrid for the role of Heidi in his new film, WHERE EAGLES DARE. It would be her first time in England when she worked on the film.
There were only two types of films majorly happening in England in the seventies - pornography and horror. Not interested in simply taking her clothes off, Ingrid would take the role of a vampire. She would be Hammer Films' most seductive vampire of the 1970s, appearing in films like THE WICKERMAN, THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, COUNTESS DRACULA, and the television series, DOCTOR WHO. When there were less acting opportunities, Ingrid turned to writing. Her first book a rendition of her early life experiences called Katrina.
"It's amazing how even a small event from your past can influence your whole future. It was wonderful for my child to grow up here, and if I'd left I'd never have met my husband. I would have had almost an empty life, because a life without love is an empty life, career or no career."
In November 2010, Ingrid would collapse in London. She would die in a south London hospital two days after her 73rd birthday on November 23rd. Ingrid loved her roles in horror. She is famously quoted when describing the horror community ''So loving and kind. I've never met a weird horror movie fan."
She used her art to be a person who was a part of great horror fiction to deal with the horror of her real life. She was a kind, generous, and loving artist. She cared deeply for her family and those that enjoyed her work. Ingrid always spoke her mind and stood up what for she believed in. A tremendous talent and a hell of a lady. May she be resting in peace.