Hilary Heath, the British actress who worked with Vincent Price in three horror movies and appeared in the 1970 adaptation of Wuthering Heights, died last week from complications of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Her death was confirmed on Facebook by her grandson, Alex Williams. Heath was 74.
"We lost my wonderful Godmother Hilary Heath to [COVID-19] last week," Williams wrote on Facebook. "Hilary had many careers, starting out as a screen and stage actress in the 1960s and 1970s, and then re-inventing herself as a producer in the 1990s, making films like Nil by Mouth (Gary Oldman) and An Awfully Big Adventure (Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman)."
"Her most remarkable re-invention came in her mid-60s, when she won a master's degree from Oxford in psychology and became an addiction [counselor], [specializing] in CBT," Williams continued. "She worked at clinics all over the world, often for free, often with very deprived and distressed individuals, and she regarded this as her most valuable work by far. She was a force of nature, and I can't bear it that she is no longer with us."
Heath was born Hilary Dwyer on May 6, 1945, in Liverpool. In 1968, she made her film debut in the American International Pictures horror movie Witchfinder General with Price. She also starred in 1969's The Oblong Box, which was the first film to pair Price with Christopher Lee, and 1970's Cry of the Banshee with Price. She also starred as Isabella Linton in 1970's Wuthering Heights, The Body Stealers (1969) and The File of the Golden Goose (1969).
Heath also appeared in several television shows between 1967 and 1976, including The Avengers, Callan, Special Branch and Hadleigh. Her final television role was in 1976's Space 1999. She continued acting on the stage, but was retired from acting by the early 1980s.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Heath was busy as a film and television producer. Her producing credits include Jamaica Inn (1983), Fortress (1985), The Fringe Dwellers (1986) and An Awfully Big Adventure (1995). In 1997, she produced Nil By The Mouth, the first and so far only film directed by actor Gary Oldman. In 2003, Heath produced the Golden Globe-nominated TV adaptation of Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, starring Helen Mirren and Olivier Martinez. Her final production was the 2015 TV miniseries adaptation of Jamaica Inn. Heath's survivors include her son, film composer Daniel Heath, and daughter Laura.