One of the great celebrities we were privileged to meet at The Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend last March, was the legendary Barbara Steele! The 72 year old actress, most notable for her role in Maria Bava’s BLACK SUNDAY (THE MASK OF SATAN), was one we had flagged as a “must see.”
This was despite hearing mixed reviews from people who stated she had a tendency to be a “diva” around her fans. My thoughts on this were – if you’re Barbara Steele you ARE a diva and can hardly be blamed for acting like one. Unlike Lisa Marie (see earlier post), we were fully prepared to let her snub us and would have considered it an honor for her to ash her cigarette over our heads! Fortunately, this wouldn’t be the case. Ms. Steele was very friendly and classy.
I chose to have her sign a picture from her own collection of 8×10’s. Prior to arriving, I had anticipated having her sign a BLACK SUNDAY photo. I would end up choosing a B&W still from THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM that included her co-star, Vincent Price. According to IMDB, Price injured Steele while throttling her in this scene….thought Steele would end up being a good sport about it.
I asked her to write “Viva Italia” while she personalized my photo. “Are you Italian? What part of Italy does your family come from?” she asked. I explained that my mother’s side is, indeed, Italian and that her grandparents came from Lucca, Italy – located in the Tuscany region. “Ah,” she said. “You are very lucky to be from that part of the country.” Not sure what that meant, but I smiled and we posed for a photo.
She really seemed impressed with the other Dave – David Albaugh. The minute he sat down she commented how good looking she thought he was.
Later that day, we would be dining in the hotel restaurant at the same time as Ms Steele. She was sitting only a few feet from us and David couldn’t resist updating his Facebook Wall with this news. When it comes to a great foriegn film legend such as Barbara Steele, one can afford to act a bit like a “tourist.”