Actress Kate O’Mara, best known for her roles in Dynasty and Doctor Who, died Sunday at the age of 74 in a Sussex nursing home following a short illness, BBC News reports.
Born Frances Meredith Caroll on August 10th, 1930, O’Mara made her film debut, under the name Merrie Carroll, with a small role in the 1956 film Home And Away. She made her stage debut eight years later, in a 1963 stage production of The Merchant of Venice. In her life, O’Mara would perform in more than 50 stage plays and chalk up over 60 film and television credits, as well as write two novels, When She Was Bad and Good Time Girl, and two autobiographical books, Vamp Until Ready and Game Plan: A Woman’s Survival Kit.
O’Mara starred in 21 episodes of Dynasty as Cassandra ‘Caress’ Morell, sister to Joan Collins’ Alexis Colby. In a 2002 interview with The Edinburgh Evening News, she said she accepted Dynasty for two reasons. One was ‘to put a boot up the arse of her career’, and two, to earn money enough to open her own theatre company:
“I enjoy producing because the show becomes your baby. The play is my idea. I’ve cast it, designed the set, obtained the costumes, painted the set. I’ve even chosen the music. But the ghastly thing about being a producer is that once the curtain goes up there is nothing you can do.
“At least when you are in it you have some measure of control. If something goes wrong you can maybe put it right. When you are in the audience there is nothing you can do.”
As the villainous Rani in the BBC’s Doctor Who, O’Mara’s character was directly responsible for Colin Baker’s The Sixth Doctor ‘regenerating’ into his next incarnation, The Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy. The role was one O’Mara had one day hoped returned to, as she told Digital Spy last October:
“If you put a much older woman in Doctor Who, they can identify with it. I think it’s quite an interesting concept and if you remember things like Grimm’s Fairytales, the older woman is often the villainess, often the terrifying figure – why I do not know, but often she is. I think it’s an idea to be exploited.”
O’Mara was the second Doctor Who alum to pass away this week, following the death of director Derek Martinus last Thursday.
Fraser McAlpine, writing for BBC America, put together a small retrospective of her five best moments on screen.
Tragic news about Kate O Mara, we had great fun on Dynasty when she played my sister Caress who Alexis insisted on calling CASSIE! RIP
— Joan Collins (@joancollinsobe) March 30, 2014
Oh my goodness. Kate O’Mara is no longer with us. Sad sad news. A delightful, committed and talented lady and actress. We are the poorer — Colin Baker (@SawbonesHex) March 30, 2014
Farewell to the much underrated & glorious Kate O’Mara. Had the pleasure of working with her on ‘Nebulous’. Deft, funny & delightful. RIP
— Mark Gatiss (@Markgatiss) March 30, 2014