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Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Count Yorga" Star Robert Quarry Joins the Immortals

Robert Quarry, beloved the world over for his role as "Count Yorga", has passed away at the age of 83.

One of the most popular horror stars of the 70s, Quarry's enduring fame began with his starring role in the cult classic COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970) and its sequel THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971), and continued with such films as DEATHMASTER and DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (both released in 1972).

A prolific television actor before achieving genre icon status with his role as the bloodthirsty count, Quarry appeared in a number of films up until 1999 and only recently worked with actor-director Mark Redfield in his upcoming Poe adaptation THE TELL-TALE HEART. In his Classic Horror Film Board tribute thread, fellow castmember Ted Newsom offers this recollection:

Bob Quarry finally passed away.

He'd been in declining health for more than a year, and was a resident at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital.

His health and lucidity was on-again off-again over the last couple months. There were some grim periods, usually followed by a recovery. I'd go there every couple of days, feeling that's not nearly enough. The last time I saw him, though, he was bright and aware, kidding with the nurses. I pushed him around the hallway last time, just to add some variety. We paused by a wall lined with photographs taken in the late 30s by a Jack Parkovsky, latterly a resident of the home. Bob recognized the movie stars: Norma Shearer, Clark Gable, Jack Oakie, Constance Talmadge, Bela Lugosi, Ralph Bellamy.

For my own selfish reasons-- wanting to smoke a cigarette-- I rolled him out onto the patio for a while. It was late in the afternoon, dusk. I don't know that he'd been outside since he'd been there. "Let's go back in," he said.

He's survived by his niece, and a lot of friends and fans.
In Quarry's own words, "My motive is quite simple. I want to be able to continue to earn a decent living and earn the respect of the people I work with...if you want to last in this business, you have to give a lot. You can't just take." And this quote may help explain his lasting impact on horror film fandom: "I always tried to play villains like the heroes."



Anonymous said...

I'm going to miss Uncle Bob. It cuts right into my heart. I met him at a Fanex convention and he was so much fun. I must have spent a few hrs (actually I don't remember how long) with him, jesse lilly, James Bernard just laughing in the pub. God this is just depressing

Unknown said...

He'll be sorely missed. Had the occasion to meet him several years ago. What a charmer! Easy to talk too, full of stories, and down to earth. A sad day marks his passing. I don;t think he ever truly got the credit he deserved...great guy!

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