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I met Catherine Schell at the Memorabilia event held at the Birmingham NEC in November 2009.
I had a chat to her about what it was like working with George Lazenby in a Bond film, and she then signed my Jeff Marshall litho of On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
Catherine Schell comes from a German aristocratic family which settled in Hungary in the 18th century. She was born Katherina Freiin Schell von Bauschlott in Budapest, Hungary, in 1944. Her father was a Baron and a well-respected diplomat, and her mother was a Countess! They were one of the richest of families, but lost everything at the start of World War II, when they were seized by the German Nazis. They escaped to Budapest, but the later advance of the Russians forced them to flee by car from Hungary to Austria, where they stayed for two years.
In 1950 the family moved to America, where Catherine attended schools in Wa
Washington DC and, later, in New York. Her father gave up his title so that the family could gain American citizenship. In 1957, Catherine and her father had an invitation to work for Radio Free Europe, so the family moved to Munich in Germany. Aged 16, Catherine began drama lessons at the prestigious Otto Falkenberg Academy of Performing Arts in Munich, but her German was so poor that she took private acting lessons instead.
Catherine Schell signing OHMSS litho
Catherine aged 20
As Erika in Family at War
in The Adventurer
Catherine Schell as Clarissa Hammond
Catherine Schell & Edward Woodward in Callan
She began to appear in films under her name Katherina von Schell and later Catherina von Schell. Her first leading role was in Lana, Queen of the Amazons (1964) filmed in Brazil.
In 1968 she met actor William Marlowe on the set of Amsterdam Affair (1968). They married, se
settled in London and she changed her name to Catherine Schell. They later separated, and were divorced in 1977.
Catherine Schell as Maggi in
Moon Zero Two (1969) has been described as a
Catherine Schell in
'space western' by Hammer Films which made it at Elstree Studios. Catherine was cast as Clementine Tap
Taplin, searching for her missing brother who is a miner on the far side of the Moon! This strange film was not a box-office success but has now become a minor cult classic.
Catherine Schell as Clementine Taplin in
Moon Zero Two
In the sixth James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Cathe
Catherine is credited as Catherina Von Schell. She plays Nancy, one of the girls at Blofeld's clinic, which uses the Swiss alpine revolving restaurant called Piz Gloria as its location. In one scene Nancy
Catherine Schell as Nancy in
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
waits in Bond's room when he returns after his affair with Ruby. She uses a nail file to get past the clinic's security system.
Catherine Schell as
Lady Julyan in
The Black Windmill
After appearances in the films Callan (1974) and The Black Windmill (1974), Catherine had her two greatest successes.
The first was in the slapstick comedy starring Peter Sellers, The Return of the Pink Panther (1976) as Lady Claudine Litton.
Catherine Schell & Christopher Plummer
in The Return of the Pink Panther
It is said that she found Peter Sellers' Clouseau character so funny that she ruined many takes during filming by laughing uncontrollably at his antics!
Catherine Schell & Peter Sellers in
The Return of the Pink Panther
Catherine's other big success the same year was when she portrayed the beautiful alien Maya in Ge
Gerry Anderson's highly popular TV series Space: 1999 (1976).
She had already appeared in a Season 1 episode of Space: 1999 called Guardian of Piri (1975) playing the robotic Servant of the Guardian.
Catherine Schell in Guardian of Piri
space monster, for about an hour. She could also change parts of her body, for example her hairstyle. During the second series, Maya has a flirtatious relationship with Tony Verdeschi (played by Tony Anholt) often teasing him about his home made beer!
On her return in Season 2 as Maya, she appeared in 25 episodes of this highly popular TV series over a period of three years. Maya was an alien, rescued from the planet Psychon, and had the ability to change into any creature, from a lion to a
Tony Anholt & Catherine Schell in
Catherine Schell & Brian Blessed in
Catherine Schell as Maya
Catherine Schell as Maya in Space: 1999
Other big-screen appearances include the comedy adventure The Prisoner of Zenda (1979) again with Peter Sellers; Enid Blyton's The Island of Adventure (1982); the horror drama set in
Cornwall On the Third Day (1983) and the romantic comedy Clothes in the Wardrobe (1993) with Joan Plowright and Julie Walters.
in On The Third Day
Catherine Schell as Diane Marsh
It is in TV dramas that Catherine has been most prolific. Her regular TV roles have included Diane Marsh in The Adventurer (1972-73); Paula Brandt in The Spoils of War (1980-81); Lady Anne Pendle in One By One ((1985) and Virginia Mitchell in Wis
Wish Me Luck (1990). She has also app-
As Countess Scarlioni in
City of Death
eared in the BBC series Doctor Who as the Countess Scarlioni in the four-episode City of Death (1979) with Tom Baker as the Doctor. She
has also made guest appearances in The Persuaders! (1972); A Family at War (1972); The Sweeney (1975); Return of the Saint (1978); The Onedin Line (1978); Bergerac (1983), The Bill (1989); Howards' Way (1989) and Lovejoy (1991).
Frank Windsor & Catherine Schell in Lovejoy
Catherine Schell & Roger Moore in
Catherine as Kristin in The Persuaders!
Catherine gave up acting in 1996 and, with her husband Bill, opened Auberge Valentin, a guest house in Bonneval, France. Catherine had met the director Bill Hays at the BBC when he directed her in the series Looking for Clancy (1975). T
They married in December 1982 and Catherine became stepmother to Joanna and Daniel, two of Hays' children from his first marriage. Bill Hays died in 2006.
In 2004, Catherine appeared in the Granada-produced show Ultimate Top 10 Sci-Fi-Aliens. The ranking included aliens like Mr. Spock, E.T., Chewbacca and, of course, Maya who was placed at No. 5.
Catherine's cousins Maximilian Schell and Maria Schell are both actors.
Bill & Catherine outside Auberge Valentin
Lana: Queen of the Amazons