Born 17th July, 1944, Budapest, Hungary. Real name Katherina Schell von Bauschlott. She is 1.7 m (5'7") tall, with blue eyes and red hair.
Schell comes from a German aristocratic family who lived in Hungary where her father, the Baron Schell von Bauschlott, was a respected diplomat. They had been wealthy until the Nazis confiscated the estates in the war. The family lived in poverty until in 1948 they escaped to Vienna and Salzburg. In 1950 her father took his family to the U.S.A., where he first worked as a Woolworths salesman, then as an orchestra tour manager. Her mother became a cause celebre in 1956 when she went to prison for protesting at the Russian invasion of Hungary. In 1957 her father joined Radio Free Europe, taking the family to Munich. 13 year old Schell left her Straten Island convent school and entered the American school in Munich, where she developed an interest in school plays. Her two brothers went to University in the U.S., but she was not allowed to follow them. To her surprise her parents agreed to let her become an actress instead, though they had originally been opposed. She got into the prestigious Falconberg School in Munich, but her German was poor so she took private acting lessons instead.
At 19 she starred in the German film Lana, Queen of Amazons (65). Work was difficult to find so she worked as a shop salesgirl until other films came, including Amsterdam Affair (68) in which she met actor William Marlowe. They married and moved to Fulham, London. The marriage lasted from 1968 to 1977; they were separated in 1976 while Space: 1999 was made. Her first major non-German role was in Moon Zero Two (69). Other films were On Her Majesty's Secret Service (69), Madame Sin (1971), Search For The Nile (1971), Callan (1974), The Black Windmill (1974) but her big break was in the comedy Return Of The Pink Panther (1975) which earned her much recognition. Television work up to this date included episodes of The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes (1970), The Persuaders (1971), Troubleshooters (1971), Family At War (1972), Arthur Of The Britons (1972), The Adventurer (as a regular in 12 episodes, 1972), The Sweeney (1974), Napoleon In Love (1974), Dial M For Murder (1974) and the Space 1999 episode Guardian Of Piri.
Freiberger's original choice to play his character of Maya, Teresa Graves, was not interested, so some forty women were tested for the part before Abe Mandell suggested Schell.
Subsequent roles included the films Gulliver's Travels (1977) and Prisoner Of Zenda (1979). Television work included episodes of Supernatural (1977), Return Of The Saint (1979), Sherlock Holmes And Doctor Watson (1979), Dr Who (story City Of Death, 1979), The Onedian Line (1979), Spoils Of War (1981), Strangers (1981), The Gentle Touch (1982), Bergerac (1983), One By One (semi regular, 1984), and Mog (1985). Working on the series Looking For Clancy in 1977 she met director Bill Hays, and they married in 1982. They have two children from Hays' first marriage. She appeared in a number of notable TV plays, including Exposure (1977), A Month In The Country (1984) and Border (1988). Other roles included the popular serials The Bill (1989), Howard's Way (1989) and Wish Me Luck (1990). Subsequently work dried up, and Schell retired from acting to run a guest house in the village of Bonneval in France until the death of Bill Hays in 2006.
"I had already seen two episodes of Space 1999 and I'd appeared in one as a guest star. I was very impressed with them. They seemed very stylish and well photographed and they looked as if they had had a lot of money spent on them. When I read the scripts I liked them too. However, I was worried about several things. The first was that I was supposed to be an alien and I would have to have a complicated make up. I was worried that that would make me look hideous and I would not have done it if it had. Then again, I wasn't sure about being tied down for all that time and being known as Maya. But it was a good offer and greed won in the end."
"I can't help feeling that I'm aptly cast as Maya, because I too am an alien. A foreigner in every country. I have an American passport and a British resident permit, but wherever I go I can't feel that I really belong."
The make up tests took three weeks and she hated the wart-like eyebrows designed by Keith Wilson. Her revenge was to lay a trail of black rubber footprints to his office door: first human, then webbed. ending in a pool of fake blood. The contact lenses, which were painted with radial spikes, irritated her eyes and had to be abandoned. She says she didn't realise she was supposed to be the science officer until the third episode.
Johnny Byrne on Schell and her character:
Catherine was a very good actress but she could only work with what was there on the page and I was very sorry that she had to play this kind of nonsense.
Nick Tate on Schell:
She was a very irreverent person. She was a very outspoken individual. She could trade punches with the best of the guys. She was an all-round fun person to have on board. She was more bloke than most blokes I know. She was [also] plenty of woman, I can tell you. (Alphacon 2012)
Catherine attended the 2000 convention in the US, the Alpha:2014 convention in the UK and now regularly attends autograph events in the UK. She wrote the foreword to the Powys Space: 1999 novel Born for Adversity (2010).
Her autobiography, A Constant Alien, was published in 2016.
Copyright Martin Willey