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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hazel Court 1926-2008

Best remembered as a leading lady for both Hammer Films and Roger Corman, English-born Hazel Court passed away Wednesday night from a heart attack in her California home. She was 82.

A promising British starlet in the 1940s and early 1950s, Court hit her stride appearing in crime dramas and mysteries--even appearing in several of them with her then-husband Dermot Walsh. In 1954, she starred in the offbeat English sci-fi flick Devil Girl from Mars, and before long was specializing in horror pictures.

Court was the female lead in two early Hammer productions: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959). In the former, she played Elizabeth, fiance to Peter Cushing's Dr. Frankenstein. Later, she starred alongside the likes of Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre in three of Roger Corman's classic Edgar Allen Poe adaptations, Premature Burial (1962), The Raven (1963) and The Masque of the Red Death (1964). In between her Hammer and Corman stints, she topped the 1961 British cult favorite Doctor Blood's Coffin.

Perhaps it was her experience with Corman--in addition to her marriage to American actor Don Taylor--that encouraged Court to relocate to Hollywood in 1964. From that point on, focused on raising her daughter Sally (who, incidentally, played her as a child in Curse of Frankenstein). She also did occasionally work in television, appearing on shows like The Twilight Zone, The Wild Wild West and Mission: Impossible. In 1981, she made one final film appearance, an uncredited walk-on in Omen III: The Final Conflict (a horror picture, naturally).

She had recently completed her autobiography, Hazel Court - Horror Queen. It is expected to be published later this year by Tomahawk Press.
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