Kate O'Mara

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Kate O'Mara
Kate O'Mara in trailer for "The Vampire Lovers"
O'Mara in the trailer for The Vampire Lovers
BornFrances Meredith Carroll[1]
(1939-08-10)10 August 1939
Leicester, Leicestershire, England, UK
Died30 March 2014(2014-03-30) (aged 74)
Sussex, England, UK
OccupationActress, writer
Years active1963–2012
Spouse(s)Jeremy Young (m. 1961–76) (divorced)
Richard Willis (m. 1993–96) (divorced)
ChildrenDickon Young, Christopher Linde
RelativesBelinda Carroll (sister)
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Not to be confused with Kate Mara.
Kate O'Mara
Kate O'Mara in trailer for "The Vampire Lovers"
O'Mara in the trailer for The Vampire Lovers
BornFrances Meredith Carroll[1]
(1939-08-10)10 August 1939
Leicester, Leicestershire, England, UK
Died30 March 2014(2014-03-30) (aged 74)
Sussex, England, UK
OccupationActress, writer
Years active1963–2012
Spouse(s)Jeremy Young (m. 1961–76) (divorced)
Richard Willis (m. 1993–96) (divorced)
ChildrenDickon Young, Christopher Linde
RelativesBelinda Carroll (sister)

Kate O'Mara (10 August 1939 – 30 March 2014) was an English film, stage and television actress, and writer. She was perhaps most widely known for her 1986 role as Caress Morell, the scheming sister of Alexis Colby in the American primetime soap opera Dynasty.

O'Mara made her stage debut in a 1963 production of The Merchant of Venice. Her other stage roles included Elvira in Blithe Spirit (1974), Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (1982), Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra (1982), Goneril in King Lear (1987) and Marlene Dietrich in Lunch with Marlene (2008). Her films included two 1970 Hammer Horror fillms, The Vampire Lovers and The Horror of Frankenstein. On television, she also had regular roles in The Brothers (1975-1976), Triangle (1981-1982) and Howards' Way (1989-1990), and portrayed the recurring part of the Rani in Doctor Who in 1985 and 1987. She also appeared as Jackie Stone in two episodes of the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.

Early life and career[edit]

O'Mara was born Frances Meredith Carroll to John F. Carroll, an RAF flying instructor, and actress Hazel Bainbridge (born 1909/1910 – died 7 January 1998). Her younger sister is actress Belinda Carroll.[2] After boarding school she attended art school before becoming a full-time actress.[3] O'Mara married Jeremy Young in 1961, but the couple divorced in 1976. She had two sons, Dickon Young (1964–2012) and Chris Linde, but gave up Linde for adoption.[4]

O'Mara made her stage debut in a production of The Merchant of Venice in 1963, although her first film role was some years earlier (under the name Merrie Carroll) in Home and Away (1956) with Jack Warner, as her father, and Kathleen Harrison.[1] Her earliest television appearances, in the 1960s, included guest roles in Danger Man, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Saint, Z-Cars and The Avengers.[citation needed]

In 1970, she appeared in two Hammer Studio horror films: The Vampire Lovers and The Horror of Frankenstein. In the former, she had an erotically charged scene with Ingrid Pitt, in which O'Mara was meant to be seduced; the two women were left laughing on set, however, as Pitt's fangs kept falling into O'Mara's cleavage.[5] O'Mara's work in The Vampire Lovers impressed Hammer enough for them to offer her a contract, which she turned down, fearful of being typecast.[5]

She had a regular role in the BBC drama series The Brothers (1975–76) as Jane Maxwell, and in the early 1980s, O'Mara starred in the BBC soap opera Triangle (1981–82), sometimes counted among the worst television series ever made.[6] She played the villainous Rani in Doctor Who.[7] The character, as played by O'Mara, appeared in two serials, "The Mark of the Rani" (1985) and "Time and the Rani" (1987) and the "Doctor Who" 30th Anniversary Special "Dimensions in Time" (1993), part of the Children in Need charity event.

Between these appearances in Doctor Who, she played Caress Morrell in the American primetime soap opera Dynasty.[8] As the sister of Alexis Colby (Joan Collins), O'Mara appeared in 17 episodes of the sixth season and 4 episodes of the seventh during 1986. "We had a tremendous bitchy tension between us", the actress recalled about performing opposite Collins. “My character Caress was like an annoying little mosquito who just kept coming back and biting her.”[6] O'Mara quickly found, however, that she disliked living in California, preferring the change of seasons in Britain, and to her relief was released from her five-year contract after Collins had told the producers that having two brunettes in the series was a bad idea.[6] After returning to the UK, she was cast as another scheming villain, Laura Wilde, in the BBC soap Howards' Way (1989–90).[9]

Later life and career[edit]

O'Mara and Peter Davison at the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration.

O'Mara continued to make television appearances throughout the 1990s, including Cluedo and Absolutely Fabulous. In 2001, she had a recurring role in the ITV prison drama series Bad Girls before appearing in the short-lived revival of the soap opera Crossroads. She continued to perform on stage and in March 2008 she played Marlene Dietrich in a stage play entitled Lunch with Marlene. From August to November 2008, she played Mrs Cheveley in Oscar Wilde's stage play An Ideal Husband directed by Peter Hall and produced by Bill Kenwright. She performed in radio and audio plays. In 2000 she reprised her role as the Rani in the BBV audio play The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind, and in 2006 she made a guest appearance in the radio comedy series Nebulous.[10]

One of O'Mara's sons, Dickon Young (1964–2012), was formerly a stage manager for the Royal Shakespeare Company before setting up his own company building tree-houses in the mid-1990s. He was found hanged, presumed suicide, at the family home in Long Marston, Warwickshire on 31 December 2012.[4]

O'Mara was hospitalised with pneumonia at the time of her son's death and his body was not discovered for three weeks.[11] She was a vegetarian and animal rights activist.[12]

O'Mara wrote four books, two novels (When She Was Bad (ISBN 0261667157) and Good Time Girl (ISBN 0002242915)), and two autobiographical books, Vamp Until Ready (ISBN 1861057008) and Game Plan: A Woman's Survival Kit (ISBN 0283060573). In 1993 she married Richard Willis, but the marriage was dissolved in 1996.[13]

Speaking about her bouts of depression, later in her life, O'Mara said: "... I’ve since learnt a cure for depression: listening to J.S. Bach and reading P.G. Wodehouse. This got me through the break-up of my second marriage 17 years ago. The great thing about Wodehouse is that his books are full of romantic problems and yet so hilarious that it puts things in perspective ... I'm not frightened of dying, but I love the countryside so much and I’m going to miss it. I’d like to be out in the wind and the trees for ever."[13]

O'Mara died on 30 March 2014, in a Sussex nursing home, at the age of 74, following a short illness.[13][14][15]

Film and television credits[edit]

Film and television
No Hiding PlaceJacqueline2 episodes
1965Danger ManAnnetteEpisode: A Room in the Basement
1965Gaslight TheatrePatienceEpisode: The Drunkard or, the Sins of the Parents Shall Be Visited...
1966Court MartialEpisode: Logistics of Survival
1966Weavers GreenMick Armstrong
1967Welcome to Japan, Mr. BondMiss Moneypenny's assistantUncredited
1967Adam Adamant Lives!Sonia FawziEpisode: The Basardi Affair
1967The TroubleshootersKim HartEpisode: Mr. Know-How
The SaintAnnabelle/Nadine/YvetteEpisodes: Double Take, Counterfeit Countess, Fast Women
Z-CarsKate/Mae Astell4 episodes
1968PromenadeLauraShort film
1968The Limbo LineIrina Tovskia
1968CorruptionVal Nolan
1968The ChampionsJane PurcellEpisode: To Catch a Rat
1968Great CatherineVarinkaGordon Flemyng film
1969The AvengersLisaEpisode: Stay Tuned
1969The DesperadosAdah (Jacob's girl)Henry Levin film
1969The Main ChanceJulia Main4 episodes
1969Department SPietraEpisode: Who Plays the Dummy
1970Never a Cross WordEllieEpisode: When is a Spy...
1970CodenameHelen LingardEpisode: Opening Gambit
1970Paul TempleLuciana BenedettiEpisode: Re-take
1970The Vampire LoversThe Governess (Mme. Perrodot)Roy Ward Baker film
1970The Adventures of Don QuickPeleenEpisode: People isn't Everything
1970The Horror of FrankensteinAlysJimmy Sangster film
1970Cannon for CordobaRuby
1972A Man About a DogStorm Riordan
1972ITV Sunday Night TheatreStorm Riordan
1972The Persuaders!Heidi SchulmanEpisode: Read and Destroy
1972Jason KingDelphiEpisode: A Kiss for a Beautiful Killer
1972Clouds of WitnessCynthia TarrantEpisode 1.3
1972PathfindersSection Officer Anne DenbyEpisode: Fog
1973Spy TrapSharon Lunghi3 episodes
1974FeelingsBarbara MartinGerry O'Hara film
1974The ProtectorsSarah TrentEpisode: A Pocketful of Posies
1974The Tamarind SeedAnna SkriabinaBlake Edwards film
The BrothersJane Maxwell30 episodes
1976MachinegunnerPat Livingston
1976Morecambe & WiseKate O'Mata HariChristmas Special
1976The Two RonniesThe Gypsy Queen
1977The Two RonniesLucy LeeSeries 6 Episodes 3–6: Stop! You're Killing Me mini-serial
1978Tuntematon ystävä (An Unknown Friend)Karen Lindén/Judith Russell/Berit LindströmFinnish crime/suspense film
1978Return of the SaintJeanetteEpisode: Assault Force
1978The NativitySalomeTV film
1979The Plank'It's Paint' Woman
TriangleKatherine Laker27 episodes
1985 & 1987Doctor WhoThe Rani6 episodes
1986Dempsey and MakepeaceJoyce HargreavesEpisode: Guardian Angels
1986DynastyCassandra 'Caress' Morrell21 episodes
1987Great CatherineVarinka
Howards' WayLaura Wilde26 episodes
1990CluedoMrs. PeacockEpisode: Christmas Past, Christmas Present
1992AladdinMadam Roly Poly (voice)Ron Clements and John Musker film
1993Comic Relief: The Invasion of the Comic TomatoesFemale Patient
1993Doctor Who: Dimensions in TimeThe Rani2 mini episodes
Absolutely FabulousJackie Stone2 episodes
1997The New Adventures of Robin HoodLady IsabelleEpisode: Marion to the Rescue
1999The Road to Ithaca'Despina
2001Bad GirlsVirginia O'Kane4 episodes
2003CrossroadsLady Alice FoxSoap opera
2005Family AffairsJackie LawrenceSoap opera
2008DoctorsRosetta FroomEpisode: Fears, Feats & the Frooms
2012BenidormBarbara Simmonds1 episode

Select stage roles[edit]


  1. ^ a b Michael Coveney Obituary: Kate O'Mara, The Guardian, 30 March 2014
  2. ^ Birth registration info from Findmypast.co.uk:
    Civil Registration event: Birth
    Name: CARROLL, Frances M
    Registration District: Leicester
    County: Leicestershire
    Year of Registration: 1939
    Quarter of Registration: Oct–Nov–Dec
    Mother's Maiden Name: Bainbridge
    Volume No: 7A, Page No: 592
  3. ^ "She’s not a superbitch after all". Edinburgh Evening News. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Kate O'Mara 'beyond distraught' over son's suspected suicide". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK: Telegraph Media Group). 3 January 2013. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Robert Michael 'Bobb' Cotter The Women of Hammer Horror: A Biographical Dictionary and Filmography, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2013, p. 142
  6. ^ a b c Obituary; Kate O'Mara, Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2014
  7. ^ Emma G. Fitzsimmons "Kate O’Mara, a Schemer on ‘Dynasty’, Dies at 74", New York Times, 30 March 2014.
  8. ^ Charles, Marissa (27 October 2009). "Kate O'Mara". Metro News. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Dynasty star Kate O'Mara dies". BBC News. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  10. ^ "Nebulous". BBC comedy. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Dolan, Andy (17 April 2013). "Dickon O'Mara: Son of Dynasty actress Kate O'Mara hanged himself in her garage after 'issues' with drink but body was undiscovered for three weeks". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Webber, Richard (2010). "The shape I'm in: Kate O'Mara". Mail Online. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c "Kate O'Mara obituary". The Telegraph. 30 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Dynasty and Triangle star Kate O'Mara dies aged 74". Itv.com. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Coveney, Michael. "Kate O'Mara obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "The Avengers Declassified: The Stage Show". Declassified.theavengers.tv. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]