Director Don Sharp 1921-2011

Hammer stalwart dies, aged 90

The director Don Sharp, whose long career included a string of Hammer classics, died aged 90 on December 14.

Born in Tasmania in April 1921, Sharp headed for England after World War II, embarking on a film and television career that spanned four decades. He started out with acting roles in the likes of The Cruel Sea and the famous BBC radio sci-fi series Journey Into Space, but soon turned to writing and directing.

Following some domestic dramas, crime thrillers and teen rock'n'roll movies in the fifties, he scored his first job with Hammer on 1963's Kiss Of The Vampire, the studio's second attempt at a Dracula follow-up without Christopher Lee (or indeed Dracula). He did however get to work with Lee on the subsequent The Devil Ship Pirates and Rasputin The Mad Monk, and away from Hammer, the pair also collaborated on the first two films in the Fu Manchu series, before the reins slipped to Jesus Franco.

For television, he directed episodes of Ghost Squad, The Avengers, The Champions and Hammer House Of Horror, and he had further cinema successes with Psychomania (George Sanders vs. satanic bikers!), Hennessy, Callan and the Robert Powell version of The Thirty-Nine Steps, with its famously thrilling clock-dangling finale.

Powell also starred in Sharp's final film, What Waits Below, in 1985, and Sharp's last directing job for television was on the Barbara Taylor Bradford series An Act Of Will, in 1989.