Christopher Lee (1922 – 2015)

Christopher Lee will forever give the masses a good, fun scare.

Icon Sir Christopher Lee has passed away at the age of 93. He came to fame playing Dracula for Hammer Films. His other major film roles included James Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Saurman in all three films in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001 – 2003) and The Hobbit trilogy (2012 – 2014), and as Count Dooku in Star Wars’ The Attack of the Clones (2002) and The Revenge of the Sith (2005). He was knighted in 2009 for his services to drama and charity. In 2011 he received the BAFTA Fellowship and in 2013 the BFI Fellowship.

Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was born May 27, 1922. After his parents divorced when he was four, his mother married the uncle of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, making Lee step-cousin to the famous writer. He served during WWII in the Royal Air Force.  After the war he began his acting career, making his screen debut in Corridor of Mirrors in 1947. He continued afterwards to play background and formula characters for a decade.

In 1957 he played Frankenstein’s Monster in The Curse of Frankenstein for Hammer. This was his first monster role and the first film he played against life-long friend Peter Cushing. The following year he played Dracula in the film of the same name, though in the United States it was titled Horror of Dracula. He played the title character in The Mummy in 1959. Other characters he played for Hammer were Rasputin, Sir Henry Baskerville, Sherlock Holmes, and Mycroft Holmes.

The actor stated in several interviews that his favorite role of all time was Lord Summerisle in the classic film The Wicker Man from 1973. In the 1970s he went on to play Rochefort in The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974). Lee was cast as James Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. His career in the next two decades continued, but not in the highest of caliber films.

This would change in the 2000s when he was cast as Saruman for The Lord of the Rings. He appears in all three movies, though in the theatrical version of The Return of the King his scenes were cut, though they were reinserted for the extended DVD, which is considered the better version of the film. He was cast as Sith apprentice Count Dooku for the Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, reprising the role for the character for the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Director Tim Burton was a tremendous fan of Lee, casting him Sleepy Hollow (where fans will notice a giant bat is intentionally placed behind his head during his scenes), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dark Shadows, The Corpse Bride, and Alice in Wonderland. Though the latter two films were animated, Lee’s rich voice is instantly recognizable.

Lee was also an accomplished singer, whose work can be heard in The Wicker Man, The Return of Captain Invincible, and Funny Man. He worked with heavy metal bands Angra, Manowar, and Inner Terrestrials. He released his own metal albums: Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death, A Heavy Metal Christmas, A Heavy Metal Christmas Too, and Metal Knight. In 2010 he was awarded “Spirit of Metal” award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Ceremony. Mr. Lee passed away on June 7, 2015 after being admitted for respiratory problems.

His wife, Brigit Kroncke Lee, to whom he had been married since 1961, delayed the public announcement of his passing until notifying family. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

Monster. Assassin. Wizard. Sith.

Soldier. Actor. Husband. Father.

His roles in film are numerous as are the lives he touched through his performances. Christopher Lee will forever give the masses a good, fun scare.

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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