In last place, with just one vote (and a mere two percent share of the total) is Susan Denberg.
Susan is, I suppose, Hammer's Elsa Lanchester, in that her one role for the studio was as Frankenstein's female creation. Unlike Elsa, she came out of the kiln the perfect blonde, despite having started out as a deformed and facially scarred brunette.
Though she is dubbed, I've always thought rather highly of Susan's performance in Frankenstein Created Woman: I think she handles the pathos of the early scenes very nicely, and is splendidly savage as the vengeful creation. However, the rest of you, it seems, do not agree, and this fascinating one-off Hammer performance (so much more interesting than the supposedly iconic Raquel Welch - not in this poll, darling) drew just one vote.
Next up is a tie, with two girls sharing three votes (and 6%) each.
First is the oft-dismissed Yutte Stensgaard.
.As with Denberg, it is fashionable to pour scorn on Yutte, another one-shot Hammer lead, apparently in the baffling certainty that she gives a bad performance as Mircalla in Lust For a Vampire. My own feeling is that I'll reserve my opinion as to what an undead vampire girl who falls in love with a mortal schoolteacher would behave like until I actually meet one. In the meantime, it seems to me that Yutte's dreamy, hallucinatory performance might just be the way to go.
I also think that in the age of Stephanie Meyer and vampire-romance, both the performance and the film may be due something of a renaissance. I liked both when I first saw them nearly twenty years ago, and I like them still.
That said, I understand the general lack of interest. The same cannot be said of the girl with whom she shares second-from-last billing and a measly three votes: the splendido Veronica Carlson.
Ronnie is the Evelyn Ankers of Hammer, surely the greatest of their later-era pure heroines, and a woman who, but for her unwillingness to accompany Hammer in its ever-greater obsession with sexual explicitness, would surely have made more than just three appearances for the studio.
Still, she is the perfect heroine in the superb Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, as good as the material, which is to say unusually good, in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed and, at her most beautiful, the brightest spot in Horror of Frankenstein. And on top of all that, she's in The Ghoul, a neglected masterpiece almost without peer. Just three votes you say? Ah, well.
Five votes, though, I'm pleased to say, for the sometimes neglected Barbara Shelley.
In both quality and number of performances, Babs is probably the most important female presence in the studio's first decade of horror production. Not only could she play both heroine and villainess, she frequently played both in the same film, as in The Gorgon, and most especially in Dracula, Prince of Darkness, where her vampiress is probably the standard by which all others are measured, and her staking still one of the most compulsively horrifying moments in the studio's history.
She also contributed much to the melodramatic excess of Hammer's Rasputin the Mad Monk and Baker & Berman's Blood of the Vampire, and in Quatermass and the Pit was one of the few of Hammer's sixties leads to appear in a contemporary subject and therefore in sixties fashions. That's mini-skirts and boots, in case you were wondering.
Next up, with seven votes, and the highest ranking of any of Hammer's one-film stars, is La Stupenda herself, Valerie Leon.
.Blood From the Mummy's Tomb is not only perennial bit-part Carry On crumpet Val's only Hammer lead but her only lead of any sort at all, yet the impression she makes is considerable. I've droned on far too often already on this site about why this is by far the best film Hammer made in the seventies, suffice to say that it is, and that Valerie's occasionally mocked performance is one of the best things about it. She is genuinely other-worldy and spooky. As well.
Into the final four now, and with a reassuring 10 votes and a 20% share is the original and, perhaps, the best; the Hammer heroine who - if I was forced at gunpoint to name just one favourite - I would, I suppose, plump for as the greatest of them all: the late, eternally-lamented Miss Hazel Court.
Hazel, as if you needed me to tell you, was the original, the star of the one that started it all, The Curse of Frankenstein, a wonderful film, fully the equal of the subsequent Dracula and probably the most under-rated movie in Hammer's history. Far be it from me to pin the butterfly of Hazel's appeal to the pinboard of sober analysis, but it seems to me that she shares with Fay Wray the bewitching combination of ostensible primness and respectability with the oft-hinted and barely contained promise of hidden depths. As well as Curse she worked for Hammer in The Man Who Could Cheat Death and then moved on to an equally profitable alliance with Roger Corman in America, making her the only horror heroine to have worked with Cushing, Lee, Karloff and Price. No mean achievement, plus a great posh voice and red hair. Ten well-merited votes.
Which brings us to our first runner up, with eleven votes and a 22% share of the total, the adorable Madeline Smith.
Like Valerie Leon, Maddie is most familiar to British audiences from comedy: I first saw her in a forgotten ITV show called, I think, The Steam Video Company, and also in a programme about inventors and inventions called Eureka! which was, incredible as it may seem, for children. Imagine letting Maddie loose on impressionable kids. No wonder I'm the way I am.
She also turned up in the film version of Up Pompeii as well as Taste the Blood of Dracula (briefly), Frankenstein & the Monster From Hell (mutely) and The Vampire Lovers (magnificently). It is the combination of sweetness and seeming naivety with epic, perhaps peerless statuesque magnificence, a combination seen to best effect in Vampire Lovers that is, I humbly suggest, the key to her appeal, and the reason why a performer who took only supporting roles in a very small number of Hammer titles has come so deservedly close to the top of the tree here.
Lastly, then, the winners - two of them, each tied with 14 votes and a 28% share apiece.
Firstly, for reasons I will explain as I go along, we have Ingrid Pitt.
I like Ingrid a lot, but I can't help thinking there's something I'm missing. This, I admit, is probably the single most iconic female presence in all of Hammer, despite making only two appearances, one of them dubbed, in Vampire Lovers and Countess Dracula, backed up by memorable work in The House That Dripped Blood, The Wicker Man and Sound of Horror. And yet, I think I prefer every one of the actresses already mentioned. Partly, it's because she seems such a loose wire in real life, as anyone who saw her disturbing appearances on Mondo Rosso or the daytime Gloria Hunniford show will confirm. And remember how she kept claiming for years that Hammer were about to go back into production with a screenplay she had written herself, in which Dracula becomes a vegetarian, and that a big star who wished to remain anonymous had agreed to take the lead? But it's not just that: for some reason she just doesn't intrigue me in the way that the others do. Still, I'm happy to accept that's my loss, and I no more begrudge her this high placing than I am surprised by it.
But, though she shares the same number of votes, I'm going to give top place to the other 14 vote-winner, simply because she was the clear leader for all but the final few days, when Ingrid suddenly streaked ahead. This, too, is a surprise, but a very pleasant one: Caroline Munro.
So well done, Caroline.
And oh, all right, here's another picture of her.
(It's back to posts with lots of words and the occasional black and white picture of odd-looking men next time, so make the most of this...)