She is best-known for playing the part of Cassandra “Caress” Morrell, Alexis Colby’s sister in the hit 80’s US series Dynasty. Joan Collins who played her on-screen sister in the show said today on Twitter ‘Tragic news about Kate O Mara , we had great fun on Dynasty when she played my sister Caress who Alexis insisted on calling CASSIE ! RIP.’
As well as the part in Dynasty Kate O’Mara played a host of similar style characters on UK television through the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. She specialised in a certain hard but sexy vampy type of woman who men found themselves both attracted to and also more than a little scared by. She also appeared in Doctor Who during the 80’s playing the part of the Rani, a Queen-lime Time Lord who was the Doctor’s main enemy in 2 stories, The Mark of the Rani and Time and the Rani.
Probably her busiest decade for UK tv work was the 1970’s when she featured in The Brothers (Jane Maxwell), as well as a number of one-off roles in classic 70’s shows such as The Persuaders, Jason King, Return of the Saint and The Protectors. These were followed by what is seen as probably one of the worst soaps ever shown in the UK, the ill-fated Triangle. This was set in the less than glamorous world of a North Sea ferry and amongst many unusual moments once had O’Mara sunbathing topless on the front deck of the ferry in view of the crew.
Another 80’s series she appeared in was Howard Way, which also had a nautical theme and in that show, which was in many ways a follow-on from The Brothers, she played the hard-nosed businesswoman Laura Wilde. Although the show got poor critical reviews it was nonetheless a ratings favourite and ran from 1985 until 1990, clocking up almost 80 episodes.
Despite appearances in some less than stellar tv shows at times her stage career was very different from her tv career. She played in Sheridan and Shakespeare productions and played a number of the major female Shakesperian roles in her time including Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Goneril in King Lear and perhaps not surprisingly she also played the role of the sexually manipulative Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra. Another of her theatrical roles that should be mentioned came in 2008 with her portrayal of Marlene Dietrich in the stage production Lunch With Marlene, this was another part that could have been written with O’Mara in mind and she got some great reviews for playing the part of the German screen goddess.
Although she remained busy in her acting career throughout her life her personal life was less smooth. She was married and divorced twice and her only son Dickson was found dead in 2012 in the garage of her home in Warwickshire. Many of Kate’s friends said that she never really recovered from this tragedy.
Kate O’Mara is survived by her younger sister, the actress Belinda Carroll.