Actress Kate O’Mara of the chiseled cheekbones passed away yesterday morning at the Sussex nursing home where she lived, following a short illness. O’Mara held a number of roles throughout the years including the part of Cassandra “Caress” Morrell in the hit 80s show Dynasty. Former co-stars, such as Joan Collins, have been tweeting messages that reveal how fondly she will be remembered.
O’Mara was born in 1939 in Leicester to actress Hazel Bainbridge and John Carroll. She initially trained as a speech therapist, but the lure of the spotlight proved too great and she landed her first role in a stage production of The Merchant of Venice in 1963 when she was just 24. Throughout her career she returned to the stage. In the 1980s she founded a theatre company called The British Actors Theatre Company, which toured for a number of years. She has been married and divorced three times, all to other actors and had been quoted as saying that her opinion of men was “low.” She has also published four books, including an autobiography entitled Game Plan: A Modern Woman’s Survival Kit.
Kate O’Mara is remembered fondly for her television roles. In Dynasty, she portrayed the bitchy sister to Joan Collins’ Alexis Colby, each of them matched in talent and with a perchance for glowering showdowns between them. Former co-star Collins called the news about O’Mara “tragic.” She stated they had “great fun” together on the show.
She was also known for a role in Doctor Who where she played villainess The Rani, a renegade Time Lady alongside Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker. Baker tweeted that she was “a delightful, committed and talented lady” and Bonnie Langford, who played the character of Mel Bush, the companion to Baker’s Doctor wrote that she was saddened to hear of O’Mara’s death, but that she had “treasured memories” of their time together. Recent writer of the new series of Doctor Who Mark Gatiss, also added his condolences. He called the actress “deft, funny & delightful.” The two worked together on Nebulous, a sci-fi BBC comedy for radio set in the future. She also held roles in BBC shows Howard’s Way, Triangle and in the 1990s appeared as in Absolutely Fabulous as sister to Joanna Lumely’s boozy character.
Although O’Mara was known for her she devil, man-eater style roles, in person she was of a calmer and more placid nature. When she appeared on the Graham Norton Show in 2008, she was alarmed at the crude nature of the host. Norton himself has also commented on her passing. He said that he greatly enjoyed the time he spent with her and that “Today doesn’t seem so sunny.”
Kate O’Mara’s former co-star of Howard’s Way, Jan Harvey noted that she would be remembered fondly. Other messages are flooding in from those who admired her work such as star of the new series of Jonathan Creek, Sarah Alexander, who wrote that she found the actress “inspiring.” O’Mara was also on twitter herself. Her last tweet reads that she is thankful for all the kind messages she has received and signs off with “Much Love x.” She is survived by her sister the actress Belinda Carroll.
Opinion By Sara Watson