He’ll truly be missed!
Sir Christopher Lee, an iconic Hollywood legend, passed away at the age of 93 on Sunday morning. There was a delay in reporting the news out of respect for Lee’s wife, Birgit Kroencke, of 50 years, so that she could inform all of her family before the news broke.
It’s reported that Lee was taken to London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for respiratory problems and heart failure before his death.
Lee was born, Christopher Frank Carandini Lee on May 27, 1922 and attended a few prep schools before heading off to Eton College and Wellington College where he studied Greek and Latin.
Lee ended up serving in the Royal Air Force and Special Forces during the second World War. It’s rumored that Lee was a spy during a winter campaign in Finland, but he always stated he wanted to honor his oath of secrecy, and refused to talk about it.
Once Christopher was discharged after his decorated distinguished service, he spoke to the Italian ambassador in London, who just happened to be his uncle, and took his advice that he should try out acting. It was soon after this that Lee landed a contract with the Rank Organisation.
Christopher talked about the war versus acting in an interview and said:
“When the Second World War finished I was 23 and already I had seen enough horror to last me a lifetime. I’d seen dreadful, dreadful things, without saying a word. So seeing horror depicted on film doesn’t affect me much.”
Lee acted for decades and got his first major film debut in 1947 in Corridor of Mirrors. But it wasn’t until a few years later when he teamed up with Hammer Film Productions that he really exploded. His first appearance with the company was in 1957’s The Curse of Frankenstein, but it was 1958’s Dracula where he played the titular role that really gave him fame. He continued to played the role of the Transylvanian vampire in the 1965 sequel Dracula: Prince of Darkness as well as five more films after that.
Christopher Lee was also known for another famous horror flick, 1973’s The Wicker Man in which he played Lord Summerisle. He appeared in James Bond’s The Man with the Golden Gun as the main villain Scarmanga.
But Lee’s popular work didn’t stop there, he’s also appeared as the master detective Sherlock Holmes in 1962’s Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace.
In 2001, Lee appeared as the evil wizard Saruman in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as reprising the role in the recent Hobbit trilogy. And in 2002 he appeared in the Star Wars prequels as the evil Count Dooku in both Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.
But Burton had a special relationship with the elderly actor as well. Burton was a huge fan of Lee’s and ended up casting him in several of his films including, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows. They had worked so much together that in 2011, Burton was the person to present Lee with a BAFTA Academy Fellowship.
But Lee wasn’t just known for his acting. In 2010, Lee actually recorded a heavy metal concept album titled Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross. Not only that, he ended up releasing a follow-up album that had Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath on guitar.
Though he was never was nominated for an Oscar, he does have a Metal Hammer Golden God Award.
Lee is survived by his wife Birgit daughter Christina.
He has left an incredible mark in Hollywood and he will not be forgotten.
[Image via WENN.]