"Michael Rennie was ill/ The Day The Earth Stood Still. " These famous opening lines from "Science Fiction, Double Feature," the intro musical number in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975), mark one of Irish actress Patricia Quinn's most iconic roles - she was the face behind the glossy red lips that seduced audiences around the world. The theater-trained actress (and one-time Playboy bunny) created the role of oddball Magenta in the 1973 London production of "The Rocky Horror Show," and starred in the BBC mini-series "Shoulder to Shoulder" (1974) before appearing as the otherworldly housemaid in the feature adaptation of Richard O'Brien's retro-futuristic musical. Quinn acted opposite Derek Jacobi on the star-studded BBC series "I, Claudius" (1976) and played an incestuous doctor in the unofficial "Rocky Horror" sequel "Shock Treatment" (1981). With later roles in another cult musical - Monty Python's 1983 satire "The Meaning of Life" - and Rob Zombie's devil music horror film "The Lords of Salem" (2012), Lady Quinn (she inherited the title from her second husband, the late actor Sir Robert Stephens), showcased the vibrant energy and versatile talent that took her from the casino to the screen and beyond.
Growing up in Belfast, Ireland didn't hold much appeal for the artistic Quinn. After studying briefly at the British Drama League and a local arts theatre, seventeen-year-old Quinn packed her bags for London. By 1969 she was juggling her studies at the London Drama Centre with her job as a casino bunny in the city's newly opened Playboy Club. She began appearing in small stage productions in both London and Glasgow, and was transitioning to TV when a chance audition led to her being cast as Magenta in "The Rocky Horror Show." The play, an homage to '50s science-fiction B-movies, became an immediate success. Quinn, however, who sang the fan favorite "Science Fiction, Double Feature" in the play (but not the movie - O'Brien's vocals were dubbed in), was determined to avoid being pigeonholed. And even though she turned in a memorable performance as a determined suffragette in the TV mini-series "Shoulder to Shoulder," Magenta was waiting for her.
Quinn returned to the flamboyant housemaid in the big-screen adaptation of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," which was a total flop upon release. The headstrong actress pulled a 180 degree turn with a follow-up role as the ambitious Livilla, Claudius' resentful sister, in the critically-acclaimed "I, Claudius." A few years later she reunited with much of the original "Rocky Horror" cast in "Shock Treatment," which satirized the increasingly hysterical culture of audience participation that surrounded the now-cult film. She landed a small but memorable role as a sex-ed demonstrator in Monty Python's sprawling "The Meaning of Life," and worked steadily through the 1990s and 2000s. Balancing a schedule that found her attending film conventions and "Rocky Horror" gatherings around the world with smaller roles in horror films, one of Quinn's most notable later roles came as a sadistic witch in Rob Zombie's "The Lords of Salem."