Barbara Steele - bio

Barbara Steele was born on December 19, 1938 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. Barbara Steele is loved by her fans for her talent, intelligence, erotic sexuality, and a mysterious beauty that is unique; her face epitomizes either sweet innocence, or malign evil (she is wonderful to watch either way). At first, Barbara Steele studied to become a painter. In 1957, she joined an acting repertory company. Barbara Steele's feature acting debut was in the British comedy "Bachelor of Hearts" (1958). At age 21, this strikingly lovely lady, with the hauntingly beautiful face, large eyes, sensuous lips and long, dark hair got her breakout role by starring in "Black Sunday," the quintessential Italian film about witchcraft (it was the directorial debut for cinematographer Mario Bava; with his background it was exquisitely photographed and atmospheric). We got to see Barbara Steele but did not hear her; her voice was dubbed by another actress for international audiences. After its American success, AIP brought Barbara Steele to America, to star in Roger Corman's "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1961); (though the film was shot entirely in English, again Barbara Steele's own voice was not used). By now, Barbara Steele was typecast by American audiences as a horror star. In 1962, Barbara Steele answered an open-casting call and won a role in Federico Fellini's "8 1/2"; Barbara Steele only had a small but memorable role. Reportedly Fellini wanted to use Barbara Steele more in the film, but she was contracted to leave Rome to start work on her next horror movie, "The Horrible Dr. Hichcock" (1962). Being a slow and meticulous director, Fellini's "8 1/2" was not released until 1963. (Later, when Barbara Steele was cast in lesser roles in lesser movies, she would tell the directors: "I've worked with some of the best directors in the world. I've worked with Fellini!") More horror movies followed, such as "The Spectre" (1963), "Castle of Blood" (1964), "The Long Hair of Death (1964), and others; this success led to her being typecast in the horror genre, where Barbara Steele more often than not appeared in Italian movies with a dubbed voice. The nadir was appearing in "The Crimson Cult" (1968), which was mainly eye candy, with scantily-clad women in a cult. Unfortunately, Barbara Steele got sick of being typecast in horror movies. One of the screen's greatest horror stars, Barbara Steele said in an interview: "I never want to climb out of another freakin' coffin again!" This was sad news for her legion of horror fans; it was also a false-step for Barbara Steele as far as a career move. Back in America, Barbara Steele met screenwriter James Poe; they got married, and remained together for many years. James Poe wrote an excellent role for Barbara Steele in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" (1969). The role ended up going to Susannah York, and Barbara Steele wouldn't act in movies again for 5 years. Barbara Steele returned to movies in "Caged Heat" (1974); she was miscast: a few years before, Barbara Steele would have been one of the beautiful inmates, not the wheelchair-bound warden. In 1977, Barbara Steele appeared in a film by Roger Corman, based on the true story of a mentally ill woman, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." Unfortunately, Barbara Steele's scenes wound up on the cutting room floor. Again, trying anything but horror, Barbara Steele appeared in "Pretty Baby" (1978), but she was in the background the whole time, and her talents wasted. Barbara Steele would appear in 2 more unmemorable movies. Barbara Steele and James Poe got divorced, (he died a few years later). Barbara Steele did "Silent Scream" (1980). Maybe because her ex-husband was now dead, or because her acting career was going nowhere, Barbara Steele retired from acting for a decade. However, she had a lot of success as a producer. Barbara Steele was an associate producer for the TV mini-series "The Winds of War" (1983), and produced "War and Remembrance" (1989), for which she got an Emmy award. Barbara Steele's horror fans were delighted when Barbara Steele showed up again, this time on TV in "Dark Shadows" (1991), a revival of the beloved 1960s supernatural soap. The still-lovely Barbara Steele acts occasionally, her latest film was "The Capitol Conspiracy" (1999). Even past 60, Barbara Steele is still beautiful and her fans love her.