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.