Born in England on December 29, 1937 (some sources cite her date of birth as 1938 and her place of birth as Ireland), actress Barbara Steele's striking, exotic visage helped make her an international horror film star in the 1960s. As a child Steele was interested in a career as an artist, but as she matured she decided to give acting a try. Steele first landed a small part in the British comedy Bachelor of Hearts (1958; with Hardy Kruger and Sylvia Syms). A few other roles followed, yet Steele found fame in the Italian-made horror classic Black Sunday (1960; with John Richardson), directed by Mario Bava. Black Sunday helped typecast her as a horror actress. More horror films followed, including Pit and the Pendulum (1961; with Vincent Price and Luana Anders), The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1964; with Robert Flemyng), and The Crimson Cult (1970; with Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee). Aside from horror films, Steele has appeared in such diverse films as Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963; with Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale), The Maniacs (1964; with Margaret Lee), Caged Heat (1974; with Juanita Brown), and Pretty Baby (1978; with Keith Carradine and Brooke Shields).

Barbara SteeleMario Bava and Barbara Steele

LEFT: Cheesecake shot of beautiful Barbara Steele. RIGHT: With horror director Mario Bava during the filming of Black Sunday in April 1960

In 1969, Steele married successful screenwriter James Poe, who wrote the screenplays of such films as Summer and Smoke (1961; with Laurence Harvey and Pamela Tiffin), Lilies of the Field (1963; with Sidney Poitier), and They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969; with Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin). Following her marriage, Steele bowed out of acting for several years. During her hiatus, she gave birth to her son, Jonathan, in 1971.

the films of barbara steele

Black Sunday (1960)

Ivo Garrani, John Richardson, and Barbara SteeleBarbara SteeleBarbara Steele

From Mario Bava's horror masterpiece, Black Sunday, in which Steele plays a dual role. LEFT: With Ivo Garrani and John Richardson. CENTER: Steele is terrified of the iron mask. RIGHT: Steele as Princess Asa

Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

Vincent Price and Barbara Steele

From Roger Corman's Poe-inspired horror flick Pit and the Pendulum with Vincent Price

The Ghost (1963)

Barbara Steele and Peter BaldwinBarbara Steele

From the Italian-made horror film The Ghost. LEFT: With Peter Baldwin. RIGHT: Steele as Margaret Hichcock

Castle of Blood (1964)

Margarete Robsahm and Barbara SteeleBarbara Steele and Georges Riviere

LEFT: With Margarete Robsahm in the effective Italian horror film Castle of Blood. RIGHT: With Georges Riviere

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1964)

Barbara Steele and Robert Flemyng

With Robert Flemyng in the Italian horror flick The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock

The Maniacs (1964)

Barbara Steele

From the Italian comedy The Maniacs

Nightmare Castle (1965)

Paul Muller, Pik Battaglia, and Barbara Steele

Paul Mulller catches wife Barbara Steele and her lover Rik Battaglia in the act and tortures them in the effective horror thriller Nightmare Castle

I Spy (1965-1968 NBC TV Series)

Barbara Steele

Steele as she appeared in a November 1966 episode of the NBC TV series I Spy titled Bridge of Spies

The She-Beast (1966)

Ian Ogilvy and Barbara Steele

Newlyweds Ian Ogilvy and Barbara Steele have an accident in the horror release The She-Beast

The Crimson Cult (1968)

Barbara Steele

Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee headlined the horror flick The Crimson Cult, released in the US by AIP

Pretty Baby (1978)

Brooke Shields, Keith Carradine, and Barbara SteeleBrooke Shields, Keith Carradine, and Barbara Steele

Barbara Steele played a supporting role in Paramount's then-scandalous release Pretty Baby. Also pictured are Brooke Shields and Keith Carradine

Silent Scream (1980)

Barbara Steele

Steele's last theatrically released horror film to date, Silent Scream is both fun and surprising

barbara steele today

Returning to the screen in the mid 1970s, Steele appeared in several horror films, including Shivers (1975; with Paul Hampton) and Silent Scream (1980; with Cameron Mitchell and Yvonne De Carlo). Following the release of the latter film, she once again left her acting career behind in favor of producing television shows and miniseries. Today, Barbara Steele occasionally tackles a film role and was an associate producer of Bravo's hit series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

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The Butterfly Room (2012) with P.J. Soles, Heather Langenkamp, and Adrienne King
Her Morbid Desires (2008) with William Smith, Tippi Hedren, Cassandra Peterson, Ray Harryhausen, Robert Loggia, and Kevin McCarthy
The Capitol Conspiracy (1999) with Don 'The Dragon' Wilson
Deep Above (1994)
Dark Shadows (1990) with Ben Cross, Roy Thinnes, and Jean Simmons
Silent Scream (1980) with Cameron Mitchell, Avery Schreiber, and Yvonne De Carlo
The Key Is in the Door (1978)
Piranha (1978) with Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, and Richard Deacon
Pretty Baby (1978) with Brooke Shields, Keith Carradine, Susan Sarandon, Antonio Fargas, and Diana Scarwid
The Space-Watch Murders (1975) with Joan Caulfield, Russ Conway, Sam Groom, and Tisha Sterling
Shivers (1975) with Paul Hampton
Caged Heat (1974) with Juanita Brown, Roberta Collins, and Cheryl 'Rainbeaux' Smith
Honeymoon with a Stranger (1969) with Janet Leigh, Rossano Brazzi, Cesare Danova, and Eric Braeden
The Crimson Cult (1968) with Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and Mark Eden
Fermate il mondo... voglio scendere (1968)
An Angel for Satan (1966)
For Love and Gold (1966) with Vittorio Gassman
The She-Beast (1966) with John Karlsen and Mel Welles
Young Torless (1966)
I Soldi (1965) with Sylva Koscina
Nightmare Castle (1965) with Paul Muller, Helga Line, and Rik Battaglia
Five Graves for a Medium (1965) with Walter Brandi
The Long Hair of Death (1964)
The Monocle (1964)
Tre per una rapina (1964)
White Voices (1965) with Anouk Aimee and Rosalba Neri
Castle of Blood (1964) with Georges Riviere
The Maniacs (1964) with Margaret Lee and Franco and Ciccio
The Hours of Love (1963) with Ugo Tognazzi
The Ghost (1963) with Peter Baldwin
Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963) with Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, and Anouk Aimee
Revenge of the Mercenaries (1963)
The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) with Robert Flemyng
The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) with Vincent Price, John Kerr, and Luana Anders
Your Money or Your Wife (1960) with Peggy Cummins
Black Sunday (1960) with John Richardson; directed by Mario Bava
Upstairs and Downstairs (1959) with Michael Craig, Anne Heywood, Mylene Demongeot, and Claudia Cardinale
Sapphire (1959) with Nigel Patrick, Yvonne Mitchell, Michael Craig, and Harry Baird
Bachelor of Hearts (1958) with Hardy Kruger and Sylvia Syms

Dark Shadows, 1991 TV series. Steele portrayed Dr. Julia Hoffman
War and Remembrance, 1988 TV miniseries. Steele portrayed Elsa MacMahon and also served as producer
The Winds of War, 1983 TV miniseries. Steele portrayed Mrs. Stoller

Night Gallery, episode The Sins of the Fathers/You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore, originally aired February 23, 1972
I Spy, episode Bridge of Spies, originally aired November 9, 1966
Secret Agent, episode The Man on the Beach, originally aired December 16, 1965
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode Beta Delta Gamma, originally aired November 14, 1961
Adventures in Paradise, episode Daughter of Illusion, originally aired December 12, 1960

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This site chronicles the films of Barbara Steele.

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Watch Barbara Steele's 1963 horror flick The Ghost

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