Suzy Kendall in L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970)
Suzy Kendall (pseudonym of Frieda Harrison), was born on 1 January 1937 in Belper (England). Her family is involved in interior decoration with a shop in Belper, at the beginning of King Street, opposite the hotel Ritz. She study design and painting at the University of Derby, specializing in the textile and fashion sector. Then, she found employment at the British Celanese manufacturing industry.
Before entering the entertainment world, although lacking any real training in this sense, she work as a model and at the age of 28, on the advice of her agent, she adopt the pseudonym of Suzy Kendall and debut in some British TV series, including the sci-fi R3 (1965), covering roles in the outline.
In '65 she arrives at the cinema, with a small part, uncredited, in a movie of Agent 007 series Thunderball, by Terence Young, which immediately follows another secluded appearance in the film The Liquidator by Jack Cardiff, with Rod Taylor, a popular Australian actor with whom she will still have the opportunity to work.
She gain greater visibility thanks to the musical Up Jumped a Swagman (1965) by Christopher Miles, in whose opening credits she is cited as debutant ("introducing"), and with the following thriller Circus of Fear (1966), by John L. Moxey, in which she stars alongside stars of the caliber of Christopher Lee, Leo Genn, Klaus Kinski and another British actress who will get some fame in Italy: Margaret Lee.
On the subject of student rebellions is her following film: To Sir, with Love (1967), by James Clavell, a sort of English version of "Blackboard Jungle", thanks to which she has the possibility of supporting, with a more substantial role than usual, the American celebrity Sidney Poitier and to acquire a certain fame also at international level.
This film will bring her closer to her first starring role, in a claustrophobic thriller that will anticipate some of the typical situations of Kubrick's masterpiece, "A Clockwork Orange", titled Peter Collinson's Penthouse (1967). The final result of the work will however leave the bitter in the actress's mouth, despite the appreciation shown by the public for its praiseworthy interpretation. Following is another film for Collinson, always starring, the social drama Up the Junction (1968), the second film version of the controversial novel by Nell Dunn.
In 1968 she married the English comedian and musician Dudley Moore, co-starring with her in a somewhat comical and typically British comedy: 30 is a dangerous age, Cynthia (1968) by Joseph McGrath.
The opportunity to work abroad also comes with an Italian-Yugoslav co-production that does not go well: her character is that of a femme fatale of the First World War, vaguely inspired by the figure of Mata Hari, enriched by some notes of lesbianism; the title of the work is Fraülein Doktor (1969). The director, Alberto Lattuada, will take care to blame her for the blatant fiasco of the film.
The following work, also in co-production with Yugoslavia, is the English comedy The Gamblers (1970) by Ron Winston: filmed in Dubrovnik, this film will also go onto the screen a little on the sly.
The occasion to achieve success, arrives around 1970, thanks to the director Dario Argento, who wants her in the role of Julia in the thrilling L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo. The incredible outcome of the film, of which part of the credit certainly goes to her exciting interpretation, favors writing in three other British films, always linked to the yellow genre: a production in the footsteps of Hichcock, Darker Than Amber ( 1970), by Robert Clouse, again with Rod Taylor ("The birds"), Assault (1971), by Sidney Hayers, a film that traces the pattern of the first Argentinian film with a typically English aplomb, and Fear Is the Key (1972), by Michael Tuchner, an action-thriller that combines various genres, not least the "underwater".
There are two characteristics that distinguish her and reward her as an actress: the first the ability to understand her ideal cinematographic dimension and to specialize within it; the second, is the great credibility that she manages to bestow on her characters. Her only "fault", is that of having done her debut in the cinema no longer young, suffering so throughout her career, a sort of race against the time to try to win more demanding and brilliant roles.
In 1972, her desire to interrupt her career to give birth to a child clashed with her husband's intentions, whose professional progress at that time was on the rise. These disagreements, combined with the constant distance of the two for work reasons, are the conditions that will lead them, by mutual agreement and peacefully, to divorce.
She returns to work in Italian cinema the following year, as the protagonist of thrilling I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale by Sergio Martino, a film that consecrates her as a scream-queen of the genre and that receives excellent profits, even in the United States. Also in 1973, she interprets the erotic drama Storia di una monaca di clausura, by Domenico Paolella, together with Eleonora Giorgi and Catherine Spaak, which can be considered one of the best works of the “nunsploitation” vein.
In the most prolific moment of her career, she continues to alternate Italian and English cinema, and for the direction of veteran Freddie Francis ("Dr. Terror's House of Horrors"), she works in two horror-thrillers that will turn out to be rather weak: the film Tales That Witness Madness (1973), and Craze (1974), alongside Jack Palance; in this second film, the actress is deprived of the characteristic golden crown adorned with fringe, in favor of a curly brown hair, in order to place her in contrast to the other supporting actresses, the "very blond" Diana Dors and Julie Ege.
Among the two directions by Francis, she also interprets her latest Italian film, the masterpiece thriller by Umberto Lenzi, Spasmo (1974).
She ended her career with the Gerd Oswald's German drama Bis zur bitteren Neige (To the Bitter End) (1975), starring along with Maurice Ronet, and Stanley's sexy British comedy Adventures of a Private Eye (1977) by Stanley A. Long.
Perhaps tired of the monotony of the roles entrusted to her and with the desire still unfulfilled to become a mother, at the end of the Seventies she decided to abandon the scenes definitively and at the same time withdraw from all worldliness.
Married with Alexander James Christopher ("Sandy") Harper, a coffee merchant, she publishes a book dedicated to cosmetics: "Natural Appeal: Fragrant Natural Preparations for the Care of Skin, Hair and Body" (1980), she dedicated to the study of piano and and gives birth to the daughter Elodie (Harper), now acclaimed mystery novelist ("The Death Knoch"), also awarded by Stephen King, as well as journalist of the English TV channel "ITV News Anglia".
In 2012 she received a nostalgic citation, as a "special guest screamer" among the credits of the misunderstood British thriller "Barberian Sound Studio", by Peter Strickland, a film that reused the actress' archive sound material and whose plot centers around a technician of sound involved in the making of a Giallo movie shot in the Italy of the seventies.
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