When Barbara Shelley began her training as an actress, she was shy and resistant to joining repertory theater. Following her teacher's suggestion, she took up modeling in 1951 to gain some self-confidence. In 1953, she went to Rome for a vacation and met famous Italian comic actor Walter Chiari. Over the next four years she appeared in a number of Italian films like the luridly titled "Nero's Mistress." Returning to England in 1957, her first part was no different from her roles abroad, taking the lead as a woman who becomes a killer cat when angry in 1957's horror film "Cat Girl." The following year she made her first appearance in a film for Hammer Studios in the World War II drama "The Camp on Blood Island." Hammer soon mutated into the leading purveyor of British horror films throughout the 1960s, and Shelley became an iconic scream queen in many of the studio's productions, acting alongside famed scenery-chewers like Christopher Lee in 1966's "Dracula: Prince In Darkness." A regular guest star on American and British TV throughout the 1960s, Shelley finally grew tired of the lack of respect given thespians in horror films, achieving her lifelong ambition of acting on-stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1975 and joining the troupe for two years. In the 1980s she took up interior decorating, and played her last part in 1992.