Ingrid Pitt with Clint Eastwood in Where Eagles Dare.(IMDB)

Ingrid Pitt’s obituary ran a few days ago, over Thanksgiving break, but it is too incredible not to get its own post. The “Queen of Scream,” as she was known in England, was “the first lady of British horror cinema,” utilizing her shapely body and uncanny Mitteleuropa accent to scare and tittilate viewers of vampire movies (she also hammed it up off-camera, biting the necks of interviewers).

The catch, of course, is that the accent was real: She was born in Poland to a German father and Jewish mother; survived the Stutthof concentration camp, where she witnessed unspeakable horrors; lost her father shortly after the war; and was almost lost several years later to the East German police, when, as a young actress, she was a vocal critic of the Soviet-backed regime—while performing in a production of a Bertolt Brecht play directed by Brecht’s wife, she jumped into the Berlin’s River Spree, in costume, where she was rescued by an American soldier whom she soon married (and then divorced).

And she just happened to have a not-insignificant role in one of my all-time favorite movies: In Where Eagles Dare, she fittingly plays a German waitress who is really working for the good guys.

Ingrid Pitt, Horror Star Who Survived Nazis, Dies at 73 [NYT]