Screen Legend Sir Christoper Lee Pass Away. Age 93
Today brings the sad news that Sir Christopher Lee, a cinematic icon and the man behind many a legendary screen villain (among other things), has passed away some two weeks after he celebrated his 93rd birthday. He was Know to man as Dracula ( Scared me sensless as a child), Bond Villian, The Might Saruon in Lord of the Rings & Hobbit movies as well as the infamous Count Doku in the Star Wars Prequels
His first role for famed British horror factory Hammer Films was not the Transylvanian vampire, however, but Frankenstein’s Monster in 1957’s “The Curse of Frankenstein.” His close friend Peter Cushing, with whom he would co-star in horror films frequently, starred as the Baron.
Lee made his first appearance as the sharp-toothed Count in 1958’s “Horror of Dracula.”
For reasons not quite certain, he skipped the 1960 sequel “Brides of Dracula,” but he returned to the role for 1965’s “Dracula: Prince of Darkness” — a movie in which he hissed a lot but had no dialogue, because the dialogue was so bad, Lee later claimed.
Lee said later that he was reluctant to continue in the role but appeared in “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” (1968), “Taste the Blood of Dracula” (1969) and “Scars of Dracula” (1970), hit films that are all now considered classics of the genre. In his last Dracula films for Hammer, Lee starred in the less-successful “Dracula A.D. 1972” and “Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride” (1973), which brought the character into a contemporary setting. (Lee also starred in “Count Dracula,” a film by cult exploitation director Jess Franco that was made in 1970 and released in 1973; in 1976, the multilingual Lee appeared as Dracula in a French film called “Dracula and Son.”)
Lee made horror films for Hammer that were not vampire-centered. He was the title character in 1959’s “The Mummy” and 1966’s “Rasputin, the Mad Monk.” He also brought Dennis Wheatley, an acclaimed author of occult thrillers, to Hammer, where two adaptations were produced, both starring Lee: “The Devil Rides Out” (1967) and “To the Devil a Daughter” (1976). The first is considered among Hammer’s best work. The second, although financially successful, was something of a disaster, with the author disowning the film, which was the studio’s last horror pic.
Lee was hospitalized recently for respiratory problems and heart failure, before he passed away at Westminster Hospital in London on Sunday, June 7th, 2015. Gitte Kroencke, who has been married to Lee since 1961, decided to (understandably) postpone releasing the news to the general public, so that she might contact the other members of Lee’s family directly first.
Lee was born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee on May 27th, 1922 in Belgravia, London, to Liteutenant Colonel Geoffrey Trollope Lee (a member of the 60th King’s Royal Rifle Corps) and his wife Contessa Estelle Marie. Lee started doing stage acting even when he was a child; he later served during WWII as a member of the Royal Air Force and Special Forces – spending a year in an infamous Finland winter campaign. Lee never spoke fully about his activities during the second World War, but it’s said that he may have served as a spy for the Allies.