Veronica Carlson, the British actress and Hammer Horror Films star of such 1960s favorites as Dracula Has Risen from the Grave and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, died Feb. 27 of natural causes at her home in Bluffton, South Carolina. She was 77.
Her death was announced on her official Facebook page and by Hammer Horror Films. “A true Hammer legend and we loved her,” Hammer tweeted.
Born in Yorkshire, England, Carlson was a model when she began her acting career with uncredited or small roles in several 1967 films including Casino Royale. When producer and Hammer Films co-founder James Carreras saw a newspaper photo of Carlson wearing a bikini, he offered her the role opposite Christopher Lee in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968). Her performance as the vampire’s intended victim was the first of her trio of popular Hammer movies, and was followed in 1969 by Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed starring Peter Cushing and in 1970 by the thriller parody The Horror of Frankenstein featuring David Prowse as the Frankenstein monster.
Though her acting career would be sporadic in recent decades, Carlson followed up her Hammer success with appearances in such 1970s monster flicks as The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), Vampira (1974) and The Ghoul (1975). British TV credits from the period include the 1972 thriller series Spyder’s Web and 1975’s Public Eye.
In a 2011 interview, Carlson explained her withdrawal from acting. “It was never my intention to, because I thought I was really going places. The film industry changed for one thing. There was a lot of nudity introduced and I wasn’t into that, because I’d had a very strict upbringing and my father was a retired air force officer.”
Carlson emerged from semi-retirement with 2016’s Stellar Quasar and the Scrolls of Dadelia Sayang and, in 2019, House of the Gorgon featuring such other Hammer stars as Caroline Munro, Martine Beswick and Christopher Neame.
Carlson’s performances in the classic Hammer films would earn her an enduring fandom. Just three days before her death, her Facebook page shared the news that the actress, who had long been a resident of Bluffton, South Carolina, would make an appearance at the Raleigh, North Caroline horror convention “Carolina Fearfest” the weekend of May 27-29.