Christopher Lee died on 7 June 2015 from respiratory problems and heart failure. He was 93 years old.
Few actors have had an impact on so many generations in the way that Lee did. The tall, dark and enigmatic actor’s deep baritone voice meant that he sounded as iconic as he looked and he had a career which saw him enter the Guinness record books for the actor with the most screen performances.
Lee started his career after World War II in 1947, with a role in Terence Young’s Corridor of Mirrors but he first came to prominence in the late 1950s with the Hammer horror films where he took on a selection of wonderfully macabre roles. It was his turn as Count Dracula in 1957’s Dracula (also known as Horror Of Dracula) which shot him to stardom. It would go on to be his signature role and he would portray the Prince Of Darkness numerous times on screen over the years. Lee became an iconic horror fixture and he would go on to star opposite his good friend Peter Cushing in 22 films.
In the 1970s Lee starred in a slew of iconic films, the most well known being Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man in 1973, The James Bond adventure The Man With The Golden Gun (he was Bond creator Ian Fleming’s cousin) and Richard Lester’s The Three Musketeer films. He also starred in the epic disaster movie Airport ’77 and took on a role in Steven Spielberg’s ill-fated WWII comedy 1941 in 1979.
The ‘80s and ‘90s were something of a fallow period for the actor, although he never stopped working but the early 2000’s saw him hit new career heights by starring in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels. He went on to become a regular fixture in the films of Tim Burton (a Hammer aficionado).
Lee continued to work, returning to the role of Saruman in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies, while he also recorded several heavy metal albums. He may have slowed down but he continued to take in a variety of roles up until last year.
Christopher Lee was an actor who made even the smallest role memorable, a larger than life actor who brought a multitude of iconic characters to the screen. From Dracula to Rasputin, Scaramanga to Fu Manchu and Sherlock Holmes to Count Dooku, Lee thrilled and entertained audiences for decades. He was a true screen great and it might just be that from today onwards, the silver screen might shine a little dimmer.
Christopher Lee 27 May 1922 – 7 June 2015