Goodbye Old Friend
- I can't count the number of hours spent watching Lee on both the large and small screen.
- An avid fan, Lee read the Lord of the Rings at least once a year for almost all of his adult life.
- Lee leaves behind his wife of 54 years.
Christopher Lee, an actor who brought dramatic gravitas and aristocratic bearing to screen villains from Dracula to the wicked wizard Saruman in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, has died at age 93.
Lee appeared in more than 250 movies, taking on memorable roles such as the James Bond enemy Scaramanga and the evil Count Dooku in two "Star Wars" prequels.
But for many, he will forever be known as the vampire Count Dracula in a slew of gory, gothic British "Hammer Horror" thrillers churned out in the 1950s and 1960s that became hugely popular around the world.
He railed against the typecasting, however, and ultimately the sheer number and range of his roles — including Sherlock Holmes and the founder of Pakistan — secured his place in film history.
"I didn't have dreams of being a romantic leading man," Lee told The Associated Press in 2002. "But I dreamed of being a character actor, which I am."
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London on Thursday issued a statement confirming that Lee died June 7. Lee's agent said his family declined to comment or provide more details.
|Sir Christopher Lee|
Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was born in London on May 27, 1922. His father was a British army officer who had served in the Boer War and his mother was Contessa Estelle Marie Carandini di Sarzano. His parents separated when he was young, and his mother later remarried Harcourt Rose, the uncle of James Bond creator Ian Fleming.
When World War II broke out, Lee volunteered to fight for the Finnish forces during the Winter War in 1939. He and other British volunteers were kept away from actual fighting, but they were issued winter gear and were posted on guard duty a safe distance from the front lines. Lee decided to join and volunteered for the Royal Air Force.
Lee played the villain in "The Man With the Golden Gun" and appeared in non-Hammer horror films. The most distinguished was 1973's "The Wicker Man," a cult classic in which Lee played the lord of a Scottish pagan community troubled by the appearance of an inquisitive police officer.
Lee appeared in so many movies that he acknowledged he couldn't remember them all.
"And certainly some of them you want to forget," he said in 2002.
An energetic man who listed his hobbies in "Who's Who" as "travel, opera, golf, cricket," Lee never retired. His career flourished late in life, with roles in some of the best-loved of film franchises. He also branched out into music, and released a heavy metal album to mark his 92nd birthday just last year.
"A lot of people, including the casting directors, have no idea that when I lived in America half of the films I did were comedies," he said in 2006. "They have no idea that I hosted 'Saturday Night Live.' They don't seem to be interested."
Lee married Birgit Kroencke in 1961. Their daughter, Christina, was born in 1963.(ABC News) (Christopher Lee)
|The Man with the Golden Gun|