Legendary British actor Christopher Lee dies at 93
Christopher Lee, the British actor known for his many film roles including Count Dracula in numerous movies and Saruman the White in The Lord of the Rings, has died at the age of 93 reports The Telegraph. Lee reportedly died at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital at 08:30AM local time on Sunday after being admitted three weeks before with respiratory problems.
Lee first came to prominence playing Count Dracula in a string of films in the ’50s and ’60s for cult UK studio Hammer Horror. His 6-foot-5-inch-tall frame and menacing air allowed him to take up villainous roles in some of the movie world’s biggest franchises in the following years. Lee played Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, Sith lord Count Dooku in two Star Wars prequels, and turncoat wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Lee considered his best film, however, to be the 1973 classic The Wicker Man, where he played the aristocratic leader of a pagan cult, Lord Summerisle.
Lee may be best remembered for his film work, but he also led a strikingly full life away from the camera. Before embarking on his film career, he volunteered in the Royal Air Force in 1940 before working as an intelligence officer in Egypt, Libya, and Malta. After World War II ended he also spent some months helping to hunt down Nazi war criminals, but refused to comment on his wartime activity. “I was attached to the SAS from time to time but we are forbidden —former, present, or future — to discuss any specific operations,” said Lee. “Let’s just say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read into that what they like.”
Lee was also a prolific musician and recorded a number of records including two symphonic heavy metal albums telling the life story of the First Holy Roman Emperor, King Charlemagne (Lee claimed to be a descendant of Charlemagne on his mother’s side) as well as a pair of metal Christmas albums. He received the Spirit of Metal award in 2010, but to get a clearer idea of exactly how metal Lee was, just listen to him singing about how he “shed the blood of the Saxon men.”
He continued acting right up to his hospitalization and said that “making films has never just been a job to me, it is my life.” Before his death, he was reportedly signed up to appear in a drama set before 9/11 alongside Uma Thurman, commenting in his BAFTA fellowship acceptance speech: “I hate being idle. As dear Boris [Karloff] used to say, when I die I want to die with my boots on.” Most of us couldn’t imagine a fuller life than this — let alone live it.