Barbara Shelley has died at the age of 88, her agent has confirmed.
The star, considered an icon of early horror films, had caught Covid-19 in hospital, but it was not her cause of death.
Her agent said: “She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer.
“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.”
The statement continued to recall Barbara’s friendship’s with onscreen giants Peter Cushing and Sir Christopher Lee, both of whom she’d worked with.
“She adored Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing,” Thomas Bowington told PA, “and loved working with them, that was very dear to her.”
And he made clear that it wasn’t coronavirus that killed Barbara, despite having had the bug.
Barbara is best known for her work in 1950s and 60s horror flicks, including The Gorgon opposite both Peter and Sir Christopher.
Other notable appearances include in Dracula – again opposite Christopher – Prince of Darkness, and Rasputin: The Mad Monk.
Barbara also appeared in much beloved British sci-fi classic Doctor Who, during Peter Davison’s run as the Fifth Doctor.
She had been born Barbara Kowin in 1932, she also boasted roles in The Saint, The Borgias, The Avengers, Blake’s 7, and even did a turn as Hester Samuels in EastEnders.
In 2010, actor and horror buff Mark Gatiss interviewed Barbara for his BBC series, A History of Horror.
London-based production company Hammer Films, founded two years after Barbara’s birth, made a string of hit horror films between the 1950s and 70s, with Barbara starring in many.