Christopher Lee – actor

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Christopher Frank Carandini Lee (27 May 1922 – 7 June 2015) was an English actor, singer, and author.

With a career spanning nearly seventy years, Lee initially portrayed villains and became best known for his role as Count Dracula in a sequence of Hammer Horror films.

His other film roles include Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Saruman in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003) and The Hobbit film trilogy (2012–2014), and Count Dooku in the final two films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy (2002 and 2005).

Obituary:

We knew it was coming – the man was 93, after all – but you could easily believe that if anyone was going to live forever, it would be Christopher Lee. His death on Sunday, announced today, shows that even he was mortal.

But what a life. It’s fair to say that whoever you are and however long you live, you will never be as utterly cool as Christopher Lee. This is a man who was a wartime spy, had a film career than lasted almost seventy years – working with everyone from Jess Franco to George Lucas – and in his Nineties recorded a bunch of heavy metal albums, picking up a Metal Hammer award to go alongside his knighthood, BAFTA  Fellowship and other gongs.

Lee made so many films that even listing the highlights will turn into a gargantuan list. He rose to fame working for Hammer – in The Curse of Frankenstein, he was simply the monster – sorry, ‘creature’ – but then got to prove his acting chops with Dracula the next year, in the process becoming the iconic version of the character in a variable series of films. Lee would be a Hammer regular in the late 1950s and continued to work with them, often co-starring with Peter Cushing, throughout the 1960s and 70s, on films as varied as SheTaste of Fear, The Man Who Could Cheat Death, Pirates of Blood RiverThe Devil Rides Out, Terror of the Tongs and the final horror film of Hammer’s first incarnation, To the Devil a Daughter. In 2011, he returned to the revived company to appear in The Resident.

to the devil a daughter die braut des satans christopher lee

Lee also worked frequently for Hammer’s rivals Amicus – he starred in their first horror film The City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel) and would be one of their go-to stars for films like Dr. Terror’s House of HorrorsThe Skull, The House That Dripped BloodScream and Scream Again and I, Monster.

Hammer and Amicus were just the tip of the iceberg though. When it came to Lee’s horror work in the 1960s, he travelled across Europe to star in a huge number of films. He worked with Mario Bava on The Whip and the Body and Hercules in the Haunted World, spoofed his Dracula role in Uncle Was A Vampire (he would do likewise in 1976 in Dracula and Son) and also appeared in The Virgin of NurembergTerror in the Crypt aka Crypt of HorrorCastle of the Living DeadNight of the Big Heat, Circus of FearThe Blood Demon and The Oblong Box amongst others.

He played also Sir Henry Baskerville in Hammer’s Hound of the Baskervilles and then graduated to playing Sherlock Holmes.

Also in the 1960s, he developed another recurring role, playing arch-villain Fu Manchu in five films. The last two of these were directed by Jess Franco, who Lee would go on to make several films with – from the ambitious but ultimately misguided Count Dracula (allegedly an attempt to stick to Stoker’s novel) to The Bloody Judge and Eugenie: The Story of Her Journey Into Perversion, though Lee maintained that he was unaware of the sort of film he was making in that instance!

In the early 1970s, Lee continued to make international horror films, including The Creeping Flesh, Horror ExpressDark Places, Nothing But the Night (for his own Charlemagne company) but increasingly found himself able to move beyond the genre.

While ‘folk’ horror movie, The Wicker Man was a definite cut above the usual in terms of respectability. Meanwhile, other films like The Three Musketeers, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, western Hannie Caulder and Julius Caesar allowed him to move away from the genre to a degree.

horror express lee cushing savalas

Relocation to the USA and an iconic role in James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun cemented a move to the mainstream, and in the latter half of the decade and early 1980s, he had major roles in the likes of Airport ’77, Return from Witch Mountain, 1941, Bear Island, Goliath Awaits and a surprising number of martial arts action films: An Eye for an Eye, Jaguar Lives and Circle of Iron.

Not that Lee abandoned low budget genre films – he was essentially tricked into hosting The Hollywood Meatcleaver Massacre, but also appeared in The Keeper, Starship InvasionsEnd of the World, Arabian Adventure, House of the Long Shadows and, most bizarrely, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. Oh, and the appalling British ‘comedy horror Funny Man.

In the 1990s, he worked with Alejandro Jodorowsky on The Rainbow Thief, appeared in Police Academy: Mission to Moscow and turned up in Joe Dante’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch. This latter appearance was a precursor to his 2000’s career revival when he was often hired by directors who grew up watching him.

Hence, Lee worked with Tim Burton on Sleepy HollowCorpse Bride, Alice in WonderlandSleepy Hollow and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and appeared in both the decade’s biggest franchises, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. And he just kept working – between 2010 and 2013, he made twelve films!

And it was more than just films and TV. Lee lent his voice to numerous audiobooks and latterly provided voices for video games – he also appeared in CD ROM project Ghosts in the mid 1990s. He fronted collections of horror stories, and wrote his autobiography, and made numerous records – in the 1970s, he narrated Hammer’s Dracula LP and made an opera single, in the early 2000s sang a handful of shockingly bad pop songs and then became a heavy metal star, first working with symphonic metal band Rhapsody and then releasing his own albums. He seemed to genuinely love this new and unexpected career twist, presumably no longer giving a damn what anyone thought of him.

They say that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, and they are often right. But I met Lee twice – once while working on a The Wicker Man featurette with David Gregory, and once when hanging around with the boys as they filmed Lee and Jess Franco for The Bloody Judge extras. Lee was exactly what you wanted him to be – dignified, serious, gentlemanly and charming. In short, he seemed a thoroughly decent chap. When he called me up after The Wicker Man shoot to get a number for one of the crew, my inner ten year-old exploded with excitement: Dracula on the phone!

thewickerman_lordsummerislehandsupraised

Lee might not have been entirely comfortable with his ‘horror star’ reputation, but I think he eventually came to realise how much his work meant to so many people – including those now employing him. And regardless of what he thought of the films he’d made, he was a genuine connoisseur of the gothic and the nightmarish in literature. He never seemed ashamed of his past.

The death of Christopher Lee is the end of an era. I doubt any living actor will clock up the sheer number of credits that he has, or leave the same sort of cultural imprint. I’ll miss never seeing another Lee Christmas message. And I’ll miss his reassuring presence – he was an integral part of my life since I was a young child and the world feels that little bit emptier now.

David Flint, MOVIES & MANIA

Filmography

# Year Film Role Notes
1 1948 Corridor of Mirrors Charles
2 1948 One Night with You Pirelli’s Assistant
3 1948 Hamlet Spear Carrier Uncredited
4 1948 Penny and the Pownall Case Jonathan Blair
5 1948 A Song for Tomorrow Auguste
6 1948 My Brother’s Keeper Second Constable Deleted scenes
7 1948 Saraband for Dead Lovers Bit Part Uncredited
8 1948 Scott of the Antarctic Bernard Day
9 1949 Trottie True Bongo
10 1950 They Were Not Divided Chris Lewis
11 1950 Prelude to Fame Newsman
12 1951 Valley of Eagles Det. Holt
13 1951 Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. Spanish Captain
14 1951 Quo Vadis Chariot Driver Uncredited
15 1952 The Crimson Pirate Joseph (attache)
16 1952 Top Secret Russian Agent Uncredited
17 1952 Paul Temple Returns Sir Felix Raybourne
18 1952 Babes in Bagdad Slave Dealer
19 1952 Moulin Rouge Georges Seurat
20 1953 Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot Voice Uncredited
21 1953 Innocents in Paris Lieutenant Whitlock Uncredited
22 1954 Destination Milan Svenson
23 1955 Man in Demand
24 1955 Crossroads Harry Cooper
25 1955 Final Column
26 1955 That Lady Captain
27 1955 Police Dog Johnny, a constable
28 1955 The Dark Avenger French Patrol Captain at Tavern Uncredited
29 1955 The Cockleshell Heroes Submarine Commander
30 1955 Storm Over the Nile Karaga Pasha
31 1956 Alias John Preston John Preston
32 1956 Private’s Progress Gen. von Linbeck’s aide Uncredited
33 1956 Port Afrique Franz Vermes
34 1956 Beyond Mombasa Gil Rossi
35 1956 The Battle of the River Plate Manolo
36 1957 Ill Met by Moonlight German Officer at Dentists
37 1957 Fortune Is a Woman Charles Highbury
38 1957 The Traitor Dr. Neumann
39 1957 The Curse of Frankenstein The Creature
40 1957 Manuela Voice Uncredited
41 1957 Bitter Victory Sgt. Barney
42 1957 The Truth About Women François
43 1958 A Tale of Two Cities Marquis St. Evremonde
44 1958 Dracula Count Dracula Alternative title: Horror of Dracula
45 1958 Battle of the V-1 Labor Camp Captain, Men’s Section
46 1958 Corridors of Blood Resurrection Joe
47 1959 The Hound of the Baskervilles Sir Henry Baskerville
48 1959 The Man Who Could Cheat Death Dr. Pierre Gerard
49 1959 The Treasure of San Teresa Jaeger
50 1959 The Mummy Kharis, the Mummy
51 1959 Uncle Was a Vampire Baron Roderico da Frankurten
52 1960 Too Hot to Handle Novak
53 1960 Beat Girl Kenny
54 1960 The City of the Dead Prof. Alan Driscoll Alternative title: Horror Hotel
55 1960 The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll Paul Allen
56 1960 The Hands of Orlac Nero the magician
57 1961 The Terror of the Tongs Chung King
58 1961 Taste of Fear Doctor Pierre Gerrard
59 1961 The Devil’s Daffodil Ling Chu
60 1961 Ercole al centro della terra King Lico (Licos) Alternative title: Hercules in the Haunted World
61 1962 Stranglehold
62 1962 The Puzzle of the Red Orchid Captain Allerman
63 1962 The Pirates of Blood River Captain LaRoche
64 1962 The Devil’s Agent Baron von Staub
65 1962 Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace Sherlock Holmes
66 1963 Katarsis Mephistoles
67 1963 La vergine di Norimberga Erich Aka Castle of Terror and Virgin of Nuremberg
68 1963 La frusta e il corpo Kurt Menliff Aka The Whip and the Body and Night Is the Phantom
69 1964 Castle of the Living Dead Count Drago
70 1964 Terror in the Crypt Count Ludwig Karnstein Aka Crypt of the Vampire and Crypt of Horror
71 1964 The Devil-Ship Pirates Captain Robeles
72 1964 The Gorgon Prof. Karl Meister
73 1965 Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors Franklyn Marsh
74 1965 She Billali
75 1965 The Skull Sir Matthew Phillips
76 1965 Ten Little Indians Voice of “Mr. Owen” Uncredited
77 1965 The Face of Fu Manchu Dr. Fu Manchu / Lee Tao
78 1966 Theatre of Death Philippe Darvas
79 1966 Dracula: Prince of Darkness Count Dracula
80 1966 Rasputin, the Mad Monk Grigori Rasputin
81 1966 Circus of Fear Gregor Alternative title: Psycho Circus
82 1966 The Brides of Fu Manchu Fu Manchu
83 1967 The Vengeance of Fu Manchu Dr. Fu Manchu
84 1967 Night of the Big Heat Godfrey Hanson
85 1967 Five Golden Dragons Dragon #4
86 1967 The Blood Demon Count Frederic Regula, Graf von Andomai Aka The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism and Castle of the Walking Dead
87 1968 Curse of the Crimson Altar Morley
88 1968 The Devil Rides Out Duc de Richleau
89 1968 Eve Colonel Stuart Alternative title: The Face of Eve
90 1968 The Blood of Fu Manchu Fu Manchu
91 1968 Dracula Has Risen from the Grave Count Dracula
92 1969 The Castle of Fu Manchu Fu Manchu
93 1969 The Oblong Box Dr. J. Neuhart
94 1969 The Magic Christian Ship’s vampire
95 1970 Scream and Scream Again Fremont
96 1970 Umbracle The Man
97 1970 The Bloody Judge (es) Lord George Jeffreys Alternative title: Night of the Blood Monster
98 1970 Count Dracula Count Dracula
99 1970 Taste the Blood of Dracula Count Dracula
100 1970 One More Time Count Dracula
101 1970 Julius Caesar Artemidorus
102 1970 Eugenie Dolmance Aka Eugenie – The Story of Her Journey into Perversion
103 1970 The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes Mycroft Holmes
104 1970 Scars of Dracula Count Dracula
105 1971 The House That Dripped Blood John Reid Segment: “Sweets to the Sweet”
105 1971 Cuadecuc, vampir Count Dracula/Himself
106 1971 I, Monster Dr. Charles Marlowe/Edward Blake
107 1971 Hannie Caulder Bailey
108 1972 Death Line Stratton-Villiers, MI5 Alternative title: Raw Meat
109 1972 Nothing But the Night Col. Charles Bingham
110 1972 Dracula A.D. 1972 Count Dracula
111 1973 Dark Places Dr. Mandeville
112 1973 The Creeping Flesh James Hildern
113 1973 The Satanic Rites of Dracula Count Dracula
114 1973 Horror Express Sir Alexander Saxton
115 1973 The Three Musketeers Rochefort
116 1973 The Wicker Man Lord Summerisle
117 1974 The Four Musketeers Rochefort
118 1974 The Man with the Golden Gun Francisco Scaramanga
119 1975 Diagnosis: Murder Dr. Stephen Hayward
120 1975 Le boucher, la star et l’orpheline Van Krig/Himself
121 1976 The Keeper The Keeper
122 1976 Killer Force Major Chilton Alternative title: The Diamond Mercenaries
123 1976 To the Devil a Daughter Father Michael Rayner
124 1976 Dracula père et fils Prince of Darkness Alternative title: Dracula and Son
125 1976 Albino Bill Aka Whispering Death and Death in the Sun
126 1977 Airport ’77 Martin Wallace
127 1977 Meatcleaver Massacre On-screen narrator Aka Evil Force and Revenge of the Dead
128 1977 End of the World Father Pergado / Zindar
129 1977 Starship Invasions Captain Rameses
130 1978 Return from Witch Mountain Dr. Victor Gannon
131 1978 Caravans Sardar Khan
132 1978 Circle of Iron Zetan Alternative title: The Silent Flute
133 1979 The Passage Gypsy
134 1979 Arabian Adventure Alquazar
135 1979 Nutcracker Fantasy Uncle Drosselmeyer / Street Singer / Watchmaker Voice
136 1979 Jaguar Lives! Adam Caine
137 1979 Bear Island Lechinski
138 1979 1941 Capt. Wolfgang von Kleinschmidt
139 1979 Captain America II: Death Too Soon Miguel
140 1980 Serial Luckman Skull
141 1981 The Salamander Prince Baldasar, the Director of Counterintelligence
142 1981 Desperate Moves Dr. Carl Boxer
143 1981 An Eye for an Eye Morgan Canfield
144 1982 Safari 3000 Count Borgia
145 1982 The Last Unicorn King Haggard Voice; also in German language version
146 1983 New Magic Mr. Kellar
147 1983 The Return of Captain Invincible Mr. Midnight
148 1983 House of the Long Shadows Corrigan
149 1984 The Rosebud Beach Hotel Mr. Clifford King
150 1985 Mask of Murder Chief Supt. Jonathan Rich
151 1985 Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf Stefan Crosscoe
152 1986 The Girl Peter Storm
153 1987 Jocks President White
154 1987 Mio min Mio Kato
155 1988 Dark Mission Luis Morel
156 1989 Murder Story Willard Hope
157 1989 La chute des aigles Walter Strauss
158 1989 The Return of the Musketeers Rochefort
159 1990 The Rainbow Thief Uncle Rudolf
160 1990 L’avaro Cardinale Spinosi
161 1990 Honeymoon Academy Lazos
162 1990 Panga
163 1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Doctor Catheter
164 1991 Curse III: Blood Sacrifice Doctor Pearson
165 1992 Jackpot Cedric
166 1992 Kabuto King Philip
167 1994 Police Academy: Mission to Moscow Cmndt. Alexandrei Nikolaivich Rakov
168 1994 Funny Man Callum Chance
169 1994 Flesh and Blood Narrator/Self Last collaboration with Peter Cushing
170 1995 A Feast at Midnight V. E. Longfellow, a.k.a. Raptor
171 1996 Welcome to the Discworld Death
172 1996 The Stupids Evil Sender
173 1998 Tale of the Mummy Sir Richard Turkel
174 1998 Jinnah Mohammed Ali Jinnah Lee considers this to be his favourite role/most significant[2]
175 1999 Sleepy Hollow Burgomaster
176 2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Saruman
177 2002 Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus
178 2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Saruman
179 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Saruman Extended Edition only
180 2004 Crimson Rivers II: Angels of the Apocalypse Heinrich von Garten
181 2005 The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby The Lord Provost
182 2005 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus
183 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Dr. Wilbur Wonka
184 2005 Corpse Bride Pastor Galswells Voice
185 2007 The Golden Compass First High Councillor
186 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus Voice
187 2009 Boogie Woogie Alfred Rhinegold
188 2009 Triage Joaquín Morales
189 2009 Glorious 39 Walter
190 2010 Alice in Wonderland Jabberwocky Voice
191 2010 Burke & Hare Joseph
192 2010 The Heavy Mr. Mason
193 2011 Season of the Witch Cardinal D’Ambroise
194 2011 The Resident August
195 2011 The Wicker Tree Old Gentleman
196 2011 Grave Tales Himself Original version only
197 2011 Hugo Monsieur Labisse
198 2012 The Hunting of the Snark Narrator Voice
199 2012 Dark Shadows Silas Clarney
200 2012 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Saruman
201 2013 Night Train to Lisbon Father Bartolomeu
202 2013 Necessary Evil Narrator Voice
203 2013 The Girl from Nagasaki Old Officer Pinkerton
204 2014 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Saruman
205 2014 Extraordinary Tales Voice
206 2015 Angels in Notting Hill The Boss, Mr. President

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