Christopher Lee Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (7)  | Trivia (168)  | Personal Quotes (48)  | Salary (3)

Overview (5)

Born in Belgravia, London, England, UK
Died in Chelsea, London, England, UK  (heart failure)
Birth NameChristopher Frank Carandini Lee
Nickname Chris
Height 6' 5" (1.96 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was perhaps the only actor of his generation to have starred in so many films and cult saga. Although most notable for personifying bloodsucking vampire, Dracula, on screen, he portrayed other varied characters on screen, most of which were villains, whether it be Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), or Count Dooku in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), or as the title monster in the Hammer Horror film, The Mummy (1959).

Lee was born in 1922 in London, England, where he and his older sister Xandra were raised by their parents, Contessa Estelle Marie (Carandini di Sarzano) and Geoffrey Trollope Lee, a professional soldier, until their divorce in 1926. Later, while Lee was still a child, his mother married (and later divorced) Harcourt George St.-Croix (nicknamed Ingle), who was a banker. Lee's maternal great-grandfather was an Italian political refugee, while Lee's great-grandmother was English opera singer Marie (Burgess) Carandini.

After attending Wellington College from age 14 to 17, Lee worked as an office clerk in a couple of London shipping companies until 1941 when he enlisted in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Following his release from military service, Lee joined the Rank Organisation in 1947, training as an actor in their "Charm School" and playing a number of bit parts in such films as Corridor of Mirrors (1948). He made a brief appearance in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948), in which his future partner-in-horror Peter Cushing also appeared. Both actors also appeared later in Moulin Rouge (1952) but did not meet until their horror films together.

Lee had numerous parts in film and television throughout the 1950s. He struggled initially in his new career because he was discriminated as being taller than the leading male actors of his time and being too foreign-looking. However, playing the monster in the Hammer film The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) proved to be a blessing in disguise, since the was successful, leading to him being signed on for future roles in Hammer Film Productions. Lee's association with Hammer Film Productions brought him into contact with Peter Cushing, and they became good friends. Lee and Cushing often than not played contrasting roles in Hammer films, where Cushing was the protagonist and Lee the villain, whether it be Van Helsing and Dracula respectively in Horror of Dracula (1958), or John Banning and Kharis the Mummy respectively in The Mummy (1959).

Lee continued his role as "Dracula" in a number of Hammer sequels throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s. During this time, he co-starred in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), and made numerous appearances as Fu Manchu, most notably in the first of the series The Face of Fu Manchu (1965), and also appeared in a number of films in Europe. With his own production company, Charlemagne Productions, Ltd., Lee made Nothing But the Night (1973) and To the Devil a Daughter (1976). By the mid-1970s, Lee was tiring of his horror image and tried to widen his appeal by participating in several mainstream films, such as The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), The Three Musketeers (1973), The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974), and the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

The success of these films prompted him in the late 1970s to move to Hollywood, where he remained a busy actor but made mostly unremarkable film and television appearances, and eventually moved back to England. The beginning of the new millennium relaunched his career to some degree, during which he has played Count Dooku in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and as Saruman the White in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Lee played Count Dooku again in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), and portrayed the father of Willy Wonka, played by Johnny Depp, in the Tim Burton film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).

On 16 June 2001, he was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to drama. He was created a Knight Bachelor on 13 June 2009 in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama and charity. In addition he was made a Commander of the Order of St John on 16 January 1997.

Lee died at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on 7 June 2015 at 8:30 am after being admitted for respiratory problems and heart failure, shortly after celebrating his 93rd birthday there. His wife delayed the public announcement until 11 June, in order to break the news to their family

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Lyn Hammond and Sidhartha Shankar

Family (4)

Spouse Gitte Lee (17 March 1961 - 7 June 2015)  (his death)  (1 child)
Children Christina Erika Lee
Parents Geoffrey Trollope Lee
Estelle Marie Carandini di Sarzano
Relatives Xandra Carandini de Trafford (sibling)
Harriet Walter (niece or nephew)
step cousin Ian Fleming (cousin)
Harriet Walter (aunt or uncle)

Trade Mark (7)

Deeply melodic basso voice
Frequently played imposing, menacing villains
Frequently played characters from upper class
Characters interested in the occult and/or possessing supernatural powers
Many roles in Hammer Horror films
Towering height and slender frame
His beard which he grew in his later years

Trivia (168)

He turned down Donald Pleasence's role as Dr. Sam Loomis in Halloween (1978) (he later remarked that this was his biggest mistake). He was offered the role of King Balor in Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), but had to turn down due to prior commitments. He was considered to play The High Priest of Kali in The Stranglers of Bombay (1959), Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), the title role in The Phantom of the Opera (1962), Dr. Hans Fallada in Lifeforce (1985), Mr. Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), Koura in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Carl Grissom in Batman (1989).
As well as a distinguished actor, known for his immense charisma, imposing stature and deep speaking voice, he was also a classically trained singer and an intellectual who was extremely well-read.
He was one of the few actors who portrayed three different Sherlock Holmes characters: Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft Holmes and Sir Henry Baskerville.
A distant cousin and frequent golfing partner of Bond creator Ian Fleming, Lee was the author's personal pick for the role of Dr. No (1962) in the first 007 film. The role, of course, went to actor Joseph Wiseman, who was brilliant. However, fans of the literary Bond might want to check out Lee's portrayal of Chinese master criminal Fu Manchu, for an idea of how Ian Fleming himself envisioned Dr. No.
Vincent Price and Christopher Lee were born on the same day (27th May) and Peter Cushing was born on the 26th.
He was one of the judges for the 1995 Miss World beauty pageant.
The blooddripping fangs worn by Lee in many of his vampire films were created by Irish dental technician Sean Mulhall.
He is listed as the Center of the Hollywood Universe by the Oracle of Kevin Bacon website at the University of Virginia, because he can be linked to any one in Hollywood on average in 2.59 steps. That is less than either Charlton Heston or Kevin Bacon himself.
In a radio interview in South Africa, Lee claimed that he held the record for number of film roles by an actor (2001).
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama.
He appears on the cover of Paul McCartney's album "Band on the Run" (1973).
He served in the British Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve from 1941 to 1946. During that time, he was an active member of the Special Forces.
He appeared in a scene from The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) on screen during the drive-in sequence in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962).
The white coffin used in one of his Dracula films was later used in the music video "Venus" (1986) by the pop trio Bananarama.
One of Lee's maternal great-grandfathers was Italian. Through him, Lee is of noble Italian ancestry (from the Carandini family).
From an acting dynasty, his great-grandparents founded the first Australian opera company.
He made his stage debut in school as the demonic lead in "Rumpelstiltskin", a sign of things to come.
A stunt double performed the stunts and lightsaber fights in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002). Lee's face was imposed on the double's body. Lee mentioned that in the last 40 years, he has done more swordfights than any other actor, but "not anymore".
He spoke very good French, good enough to understand questions and give long replies in a press conference.
He was an honorary member of three stuntmen's unions.
His stepfather (his mother's second husband) was the maternal uncle of writer Ian Fleming (of James Bond fame). Lee and Fleming are therefore stepcousins.
He was voted No. 31 on the recent British televised poll "The Greatest Movie Stars of All Time" above the likes of John Wayne, Michael Caine and Humphrey Bogart.
He sustained an injury to his right hand while filming a sword-fight with a slightly drunk Errol Flynn for The Warriors (1955). The permanently crooked little finger he was left with can be seen in many of his films.
Both he and his fellow Star Wars Sith Lord, David Prowse, have played Frankenstein's Monster opposite Peter Cushing: Lee in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), and Prowse in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974).
He was originally offered the role of Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), which he turned down. The role eventually went to his good friend Peter Cushing.
Since his feature film debut in Corridor of Mirrors (1948), he has had at least one film role every year except for 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2006.
At 6 feet 5 inches, he is entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as "The Tallest Leading Actor".
He struggled to get work early in his career as a supporting actor because almost all the male stars were shorter than he.
He was upset about the deletion of his death scene in the theatrical version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). However, the scene was put back into the Extended Edition which is seen as the definitive version.
One of the most prolific actors of all time, he has acted in nearly 230 films, although he later admitted that his film work was not always chosen on quality but often on whether they could support his family. His peak years of productivity were 1955 and 1970, as Lee starred in nine films in both years.
As Darth Tyranus, he plays the first Sith apprentice to act in both body and voice.
Although he has been in well over 200 films, he has very rarely played a hero, having been a villain in perhaps about 85% of his films (even his bit parts lean towards the unsympathetic).
He was awarded Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture in 2002, and Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture in 2011.
One of his favorite bands is the Italian symphonic power metal band Rhapsody, and he has also appeared on one of their album (listen to the speech in the intro on the song "Unholy Warcry" on the album "The Dark Secret"). Lee also appears on the Rhapsody single "The Magic of the Wizard's Dream", where he does a duet with Rhapsody vocalist Fabio Leoni in English, German, Italian and French versions of the song.
On July 21, 2004, he was given the honorary citizenship of the Italian city of Casina (Province of Reggio Emilia) where Sarzano, the castle of his ancestors is situated. He gave his speech of thanks in Italian.
He was the Center of the Hollywood Universe, according to data at the Movie Oracle, http://www.cs.virginia.edu/oracle/center.html, but is now second to Rod Steiger.
Two of his roles have been as leaders of a separatist movement. The first was Jinnah (1998), about Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan. The second was in the Star Wars series as Count Dooku, the former mentor of Qui-Gon Jinn.
In a bonding of two generations of Frankenstein's monsters, Lee and his wife were good friends with Boris Karloff and his wife. This friendship was not as a result of them working together (they made two films together: Corridors of Blood (1958) and The Crimson Cult (1968)) but by the coincidence that they lived next door to each other in England.
During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force and in British Intelligence.
In 1972, he founded Charlemagne Productions Ltd.
He studied at Summerfield Preparatory School and attended Wellington College.
His daughter, Christina Erika Lee, was born with her legs severely deformed. They were bent at such a severe angle that they were almost backwards. She spent her first two years in splints. She eventually learned how to walk after the age of three and no longer needed splints.
According to his official website: He speaks French, German, Italian and Spanish and can "get along" in Greek, Russian and Swedish.
When he arrived in the recording studio to do the voice-over for King Haggard in the original animated version of The Last Unicorn (1982), he came armed with his own copy of the book with certain excerpts marked pertaining to parts of the book that he felt should not have been omitted.
Like his Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson, he has appeared in films with three generations of Astins.
He wanted to attend the Heavy Metal Festival Earthshaker Fest in 2005 to support his favorite bands, the Italian band Rhapsody and the American band Manowar, but had to cancel at the last moment because of an important filming appointment. He recorded a message to the fans in advance, which was shown right before Rhapsody appeared on-stage.
According to his friend Norman Lloyd, he has a somewhat eccentric hobby: he is fascinated by public executioners and knows the names of every official executioner England has had since the middle of the 15th century.
In his role as the title character, The Mummy (1959), in which he co-starred with Peter Cushing, Lee got severely injured in the course of the filming. All that smashing through real glass windows and doors had dislocated his shoulder and pulled his neck muscles, especially when he had to carry an actress with arms fully extended across a swamp, walking as much as 87 yards, which damaged his shoulders considerably.
In Horror of Dracula (1958), Lee in the title role had to drop a woman into a grave, but when he carried her, she was unexpectedly heavy and in trying to drop her into the grave, Lee also fell in with her.
He appeared in three different films in which he had either known or met the author of the original work: Gormenghast (2000) (Mervyn Peake), The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) (Ian Fleming, his cousin).
He shot all his scenes for Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) in one day.
He was the tallest of the many actors who have played Count Dracula.
He was one of the few people to volunteer to fight on the Finnish side in the Russo-Finnish winter war in 1939-40, though he and his fellow British volunteers were in Finland only for about two weeks and were kept well away from direct combat.
Often worked with his off-screen inseparable friend Peter Cushing frequently playing mortal enemies on-screen. After Cushing died, Lee said in an interview that he never felt closer and more open to any of his other friends than he felt to Peter.
His films have made more money than any other actor's in history. As of May 2006, five of his films (the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the two Star Wars films in which he played Count Dooku) had total grosses in excess of $4.4 billion. Even without considering Lee's other appearances dating back to 1948, his totals considerably surpass the figures of #3 billion and #3.8 billion claimed by Harrison Ford and Samuel L. Jackson, respectively.
As a veritable J.R.R. Tolkien expert and the only member of the cast who had met Tolkien himself, he often visited the Production department on the sets of the various Lord of the Rings movies to give advice and tips on the various attributes of the films.
He released the music album "Christopher Lee: Revelation" in the United Kingdom in October 2006. It includes songs like "The Toreador March", "O Sole Mio", "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'" and "My Way".
He worked with three different Gollums. The first Gollum, Theodore Gottlieb, provided a voice in The Last Unicorn (1982). The second, Peter Woodthorpe, appeared with him in The Odyssey (1997). The last, Andy Serkis, appeared with him in the Lord of the Rings films.
He played a staggering amount of Victorian characters. He played Count Dracula ten times, Dr. Fu Manchu five times, Sherlock Holmes three times, Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock's brother) once and Sir Henry Baskerville (a friend of Holmes) once. He also appeared in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) and I, Monster (1971), adaptations of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", among others.
He was the only actor in cinematic history to have achieved a unique trifecta. He has played a Star Wars villain (Count Dooku), a James Bond villain (Francisco Scaramanga), and a classic horror movie monster (Dracula, the Mummy and Frankenstein's Monster).
He worked with three James Bonds: Roger Moore in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Pierce Brosnan in Around the World in 80 Days (1989), and Daniel Craig in The Golden Compass (2007).
He was cast as a ballad soloist called The Gentleman Ghost in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), but his role was cut when the ballad numbers were omitted. However, he never filmed the scenes and was present for the recording session.
In 2008, he received a lifetime achievement award at Pula Film Festival (Croatia).
In various interviews over the years has referred to all three actors to play James Bond that he has worked with - Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig - as the best and most close to Ian Fleming's intentions. However, he has also criticized Fleming's weak characters when discussing his own Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and described the screen adaptation as considerably better written.
He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama and charity. The ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace on October 30, 2009, and was carried out by HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales.
He was awarded Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John in 1997.
At age 77, he confirmed that he had lost an inch of height and was now 6' 4".
Was offered the role of King Balor in Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), but had to turn down due to other commitments.
He once declared himself an unconditional fan of Gene Hackman.
He learned how to speak German by listening to Richard Wagner records.
He dubbed King Haggard in the German version of The Last Unicorn (1982) for no fee, out of love for the film.
He said that his favorite director is Tim Burton, whom he frequently collaborated with on several of Burton's films.
He was very good friends with Josip Broz Tito, a partisan leader and a president of a former country of Yugoslavia.
Lee's friend, Jean Paul Getty, lent him and wife Gitte his Sutton Place home for their honeymoon in 1961.
He read the Lord of the Rings trilogy once a year for decades, long before the film series ever even began.
He wore an eyepatch to play the role of Rochefort in The Three Musketeers (1973), The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974) and The Return of the Musketeers (1989), one of few films, if not the only film, to be based on "Twenty Years After". His interpretation of the character was so popular that many subsequent adaptations of the story; such as Disney's The Three Musketeers (1993) and The Three Musketeers (2011), have continued to portray Rochefort as wearing an eyepatch, despite the fact that Alexandre Dumas never described the character as wearing one.
Early in his career, Lee dubbed foreign films into English and other languages including Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (1953). Sometimes he dubbed all the voices including women's parts. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., recalled that Lee could do any kind of accent: "foreign, domestic, North, South, Middle, young, old, everything. He's a great character actor".
He performed a few small roles that only required his voice, such as the priest in Corpse Bride (2005), and the Jabberwocky in Alice in Wonderland (2010).
Around 1988, Lee agreed to play a vampire once more in an unproduced Dutch/Belgian comedy that was to be called "Blooper". The script, written by 'Frank van Laecke', was commissioned because of the physical resemblance between Lee and Dutch opera singer Marco Bakker, as noted by Bakker's wife, actress Willeke van Ammelrooy. Lee, a great lover of opera, got along well with both of them. The story concerned an opera singer called Billy Blooper (Bakker) who learns his father (Lee) is a vampire who's teeth had gone rotten after eating too many sweets. Now whenever he bites anyone, instead of turning into a vampire, they became half-human, half-chicken.
His mother was a contessa of the Italian Carandini family related through marriage across the centuries to the Borgias.
He got started in films when his cousin Count Nicolò Carandini, Italy's first post war ambassador to Britain introduced him to Filipo Del Guidice of Two Cities Film.
His godfather was Prince Alexander of Battenberg, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who later adopted the title of Lord Carisbrooke.
After preparatory school, he passed the entrance exam for Eton but his parents could not afford the fees. He went to Wellington, but had to be taken out when their financial situation worsened. He took a job as an office boy in a shipping company in the City at £1 a week.
Lee got along well with Eddie Powell, his longtime stunt double at Hammer Film Productions. Powell married Hammer wardrobe mistress Rosemary Burrows, who jokingly referred to Lee as "Nasty" and sometimes "Green Mould".
He did not begin acting until he was 25 years old.
He was married to his wife Gitte just before production on The Devil's Daffodil (1961) began. They had no time for a full honeymoon as they only had a weekend before filming began on Mondy. They spent it in Brighton and resolved to have a serial honeymoon spread out over the next year between picture commitments. Unfortunately, it rained most of the weekend.
He considers Billy Wilder to be the greatest director he worked for.
In his autobiography, he relates his first meeting with Peter Cushing during production of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), in which he played the monster. Lee stormed into a dressing room where Cushing was sitting and angrily shouted "I haven't got any lines!". Cushing replied, "You're lucky; I've read the script.".
He had no lines in Hamlet (1948), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) or Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966).
His character seduced Barbara Shelley in both Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) and Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966).
He made five films with Miles Malleson: One Night with You (1948), Saraband (1948), Private's Progress (1956), Horror of Dracula (1958) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959).
He starred in two adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novella "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde": The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) and I, Monster (1971).
He was the last surviving cast member of Scott of the Antarctic (1948).
He appeared in three films with Suzan Farmer: The Devil-Ship Pirates (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) and Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966).
In both The Pirates of Blood River (1962) and The Devil-Ship Pirates (1964), he played the captain of a pirate crew which included Michael Ripper and Michael Peake.
He has four roles in common with his Corridors of Blood (1958) and The Crimson Cult (1968) co-star Boris Karloff: (1) Karloff played Frankenstein's Monster in Frankenstein (1931), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939) while Lee played him in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), (2) Karloff played the Mummy in The Mummy (1932) while Lee played him in The Mummy (1959), (3) Karloff played Dr. Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) while Lee played him in The Face of Fu Manchu (1965), The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966), The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967), The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968) and The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969) and (4) Karloff played Grigori Rasputin in Suspense: The Black Prophet (1953) while Lee played him in Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966).
He has two roles in common with Marc Warren: (1) Lee played Count Dracula in ten films from Horror of Dracula (1958) to Dracula and Son (1976) while Warren played him in Dracula (2006) and (2) Lee played the Comte de Rochfort in The Three Musketeers (1973), The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974) and The Return of the Musketeers (1989) while Warren played him in The Musketeers (2014).
He made six films with Johnny Depp: Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Hugo (2011) and Dark Shadows (2012).
He made four films with Helena Bonham Carter: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Dark Shadows (2012).
He made four films with Patrick Troughton: Hamlet (1948), The Gorgon (1964), Scars of Dracula (1970), and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). Coincidentally, Peter Cushing appeared in all of them except Scars of Dracula (1970).
He worked with Klaus Kinski in The Devil's Daffodil (1961), Secret of the Red Orchid (1962), Psycho-Circus (1966), Five Golden Dragons (1967) and Count Dracula (1970) and his daughter Nastassja Kinski in To the Devil a Daughter (1976).
He starred in two Hammer adaptations of novels by Dennis Wheatley: The Devil Rides Out (1968) and To the Devil a Daughter (1976).
He has two roles in common with Bela Lugosi: (1) Lugosi played Count Dracula in Dracula (1931) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) while Lee played him in ten films from Horror of Dracula (1958) to Dracula and Son (1976) and (2) Lugosi played Frankenstein's Monster in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) while Lee played him in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).
He has three roles in common with Lon Chaney Jr.: (1) Chaney played Frankenstein's Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) while Lee played him in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), (2) Chaney played Kharis the Mummy in The Mummy's Tomb (1942), The Mummy's Ghost (1944) and The Mummy's Curse (1944) while Lee played him in The Mummy (1959) and (3) Chaney played Count Dracula in Son of Dracula (1943) while Lee played him in ten films from Horror of Dracula (1958) to Dracula and Son (1976).
He appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: Hamlet (1948) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). He is the only actor to appear in two films which were released more than 50 years apart and both won Best Picture.
He appeared in three films with Lee Pace: The Resident (2011), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
He has two roles in common with Frank Langella, Richard Roxburgh and Anthony D.P. Mann: (1) Lee played Count Dracula in ten films from Horror of Dracula (1958) to Dracula and Son (1976), Langella played him in Dracula (1979), Roxburgh played him in Van Helsing (2004) and Mann played him in Canucula! (Dracula in Canada) (2008) and Terror of Dracula (2012) and (2) Lee played Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1991) and Sherlock Holmes: Incident at Victoria Falls (1992), Langella played him in Standing Room Only: Sherlock Holmes (1981), Roxburgh played him in The Hound of the Baskervilles (2002) and Mann played him in Sherlock Holmes and the Shadow Watchers (2011).
Before he was persuaded to return as Count Dracula in Scars of Dracula (1970), John Forbes-Robertson was considered for the role. Forbes-Robertson later played the character in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), making him the only actor other than Lee to play Dracula in the Hammer "Dracula" film series.
He has two roles in common with Tom Baker: (1) Lee played Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1991) and Sherlock Holmes: Incident at Victoria Falls (1992) while Baker played him in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982) and (2) Lee played Grigory Rasputin in Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966) while Baker played him in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971).
He was killed by Francis Matthews in both Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) and Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966).
He was offered the role of Justinian in The Viking Queen (1967), which he turned down. Don Murray was eventually cast.
He made ten films with Michael Gough: Saraband (1948), Night Ambush (1957), Horror of Dracula (1958), Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), The Skull (1965), The Crimson Cult (1968), Julius Caesar (1970), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Corpse Bride (2005) and Alice in Wonderland (2010).
He has two roles in common with his Corpse Bride (2005) co-star Richard E. Grant: (1) Lee played Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1991) and Sherlock Holmes: Incident at Victoria Falls (1992) while Grant played him in The Other Side (1992) and (2) Lee played Holmes' brother Mycroft Holmes in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) while Grant played him in Sherlock (2002).
He played Frankenstein's Monster in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) while his niece Harriet Walter played Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of "Frankenstein" author Mary Shelley, in Frankenstein: Birth of a Monster (2003).
He has two roles in common with his Tales of the Haunted (1981) co-star Jack Palance: (1) Lee played Count Dracula in ten films from Horror of Dracula (1958) to Dracula and Son (1976) while Palance played him in Dracula (1974) and (2) Palance played Dr. Edward Hyde / Mr. Henry Jekyll in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968) while Lee played renamed versions of the character(s), Dr. Charles Marlowe and Mr. Edward Blake, in I, Monster (1971).
He appeared in six films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Hamlet (1948), Moulin Rouge (1952), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and Hugo (2011). Of those, Hamlet (1948) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) are winners in the category (though with the latter film he only appeared in the extended edition and not the one that was screened by the Academy).
According to the Multimedia Encyclopedia "Cinemania 95", he died on March 31, 1993. But he was alive in that time.
As he played a Bond villain, he has worked with the most fellow Bond villain actors in films: Robert Shaw, Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray, Curd Jürgens, Michael Lonsdale, Julian Glover, Sean Bean, Christopher Walken, etc.
With his death on June 7, 2015, Patrick Macnee became the last surviving cast member of Hamlet (1948). Macnee himself died only 18 days later. They also went to school together.
His date of death, June 7, is also the birthday of Liam Neeson, who played his apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn in the Star Wars films.
He died only one day after his Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951), Julius Caesar (1970) and Treasure Island (1990) co-star Richard Johnson.
He played three characters from the Sherlock Holmes stories: Sherlock himself, his brother Mycroft, and Sir Henry Baskerville. He subsequently worked with several actors who appeared in more recent Holmes stories. In Dark Shadows (2012), he appeared with Jonny Lee Miller, who played Sherlock on Elementary (2012). He also worked with Miller's grandfather, Bernard Lee, in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). In Hugo (2011), he worked with Sir Ben Kingsley and Jude Law, who have both played Doctor Watson. In The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), he appeared - though never at the same time - with Stephen Fry, who played Mycroft in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011); Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Sherlock in Mr. Holmes (2015); and Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who play Holmes and Watson on Sherlock (2010). Also appearing in Lee's five Fu Manchu movies was Howard Marion-Crawford, who was television's first Dr. Watson on Sherlock Holmes (1954). Lee also provided the introduction for that series' 2005 DVD release.
Both he and his niece Harriet Walter appeared in "Star Wars" films: Lee played Count Dooku in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) and Walter played Dr. Kalonia in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015).
His roles were cut from the films My Brother's Keeper (1948) and Saraband (1948).
Coincidently, the veteran horror actor appeared in the only two Best Picture winners to feature ghosts, Hamlet (1948) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
As a 17-year-old, he was a spectator in the crowd attending the last public guillotining in France - that of Eugen Weidmann in 1939. At 6' 5" tall, he would have had a good view (Because of the behavior of the spectators at the execution, all subsequent executions in France were done behind closed doors).
He turned down the role of The Specialist in Tommy (1975), as he was in Thailand filming The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).
He was so ashamed of Howling II: ... Your Sister Is a Werewolf (1985) that when he met Joe Dante on Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), he apologised for being in such a bad sequel to his film.
Of the nine Dracula films that Hammer made, he doesn't appear in two of them. Dracula is absent from The Brides of Dracula (1960) as Hammer worried that his salary would increase. He refused to appear in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) after reading the script.
He turned down the role of The Man in Black in The Vampire Lovers (1970).
He was originally going to play The Inquisitor in The Lost Continent (1968).
He was regarded The Devil Rides Out (1968) as the best film he ever made for Hammer.
He was considered for two guest roles in Doctor Who (1963): Solon in "The Brain of Morbius" and De Flores in "Silver Nemesis". He was also considered for the Master and Borusa (before the character was dropped) in Doctor Who: The Movie (1996).
He turned down Leslie Nielsen's role in Airplane! (1980) as he had trouble understanding the script.
The villain Tormack from the animated series Galtar and the Golden Lance (1985) was apparently based on him, right down to his voice actor, Brock Peters, utilizing a British accent in order to sound like Lee.
Contrary to popular belief, Lee did not have a vast library of occult books. When giving a speech at the University College Dublin on 8 November 2011, he said: "Somebody wrote I have 20,000 books. I'd have to live in a bath! I have maybe four or five [occult books]." He further admonished the students against baneful occult practices, warning them that he had met "people who claimed to be Satanists. Who claimed to be involved with black magic."; however, he himself had certainly never been involved: "I warn all of you: never, never, never. You will not only lose your mind, you'll lose your soul.".
He auditioned for a role in The Longest Day (1962), but was turned down because he did not "look like a military man", despite having fought in World War II. Some film books incorrectly credit him with a role in the film, something he had to correct for the rest of his life.
Lee was a supporter of the British Conservative Party. He described Michael Howard as "the ideal person to lead the party" in 2003, and also supported William Hague and David Cameron.
On the self-titled debut album by Hollywood Vampires, a supergroup consisting of Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry, Lee is featured as a narrator in the track "The Last Vampire". Being recorded shortly before his death, this marks Lee's final appearance on a musical record.
He appeared in The Wicker Man (1973) for free. He named it as his favourite film of his own.
He was considered for the role of Magneto in the sci-fi action film X-Men (2000), but the role was given to Sir Ian McKellen.
He turned down the role of Zordak, The Lord of Nightmares on The Dreamstone (1990), which went to Gary Martin.
Andrea Romano had originally wanted him for the role of Ra's Al Guhl on Batman: The Animated Series (1992). However, she said it would have been too difficult to have him play a recurring role on account of him living in England.
In 2002, rumors circulated that he was to replace Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films. When asked about it, he said "I have not been asked to appear in the next Harry Potter film and I probably won't. I consider this matter in very bad taste. The man had only been dead for about 10 days when this gossip started to go around.".
Upon his death, he was cremated and his ashes were sprinkled around the Surrey Hills. He never retired from acting.
When he was young, Lee actually met Prince Felix Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, two of the men involved in the killing of Rasputin, who he would later play.
He was an avid golfer.
He and his best friend Peter Cushing were huge fans of the Looney Tunes cartoons. They would often imitate the voices of characters to one another and they were once asked to leave a theater showing a Sylvester and Tweety cartoon, because they were laughing hysterically.
Upon the passing of Louis Jourdan on February 14, 2015, he became the oldest living actor to play the main James Bond villain. Upon his death on June 7 of the same year, the status passed to Michael Lonsdale.
His Star Wars character, Count Dooku, is said to have been the mentor of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, who was played by Liam Neeson. Lee ended up dying on Neeson's 63rd birthday.
Had a rich baritone voice, and was described as a good operatic singer. Despite this, he never pursued a full-time music career, preferring to stick with acting instead.
The first horror film he ever saw was The Human Monster (1939) starring Bela Lugosi when he was 17 years old.
After serving with Sir Ormonde Winter's British Volunteers helping Finland against the Soviet invasion in 1939, he returned to Britain and joined the Home Guard. He would then enlist in the Royal Air Force, training as a pilot and proving a competent flyer on practice missions. However, an eyesight problem grounded him on the verge of his first solo flight and he joined RAF Intelligence instead.
Upon meeting the daughter of Rasputin whom he had portrayed on screen, she praised his performance, stating that while he didn't physically resemble him (the real Rasputin much shorter than Lee's 6 feet 5 inches), she thought he captured the intense character and dark charisma of her father perfectly.
Commented that he knew what the sound of a blade entering human flesh really sounded like, having witnessed the last public execution by guillotine in 1930s France.
He spoke fluent English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Finnish, Greek and Russian.

Personal Quotes (48)

I stopped appearing as Dracula in 1972 because in my opinion the presentation of the character had deteriorated to such an extent, particularly bringing him into the contemporary day and age, that it really no longer had any meaning.
Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff didn't like the word "horror". They, like I, went for the French description: "the theatre of the fantastique".
There are many vampires in the world today - you only have to think of the film business.
In Britain, any degree of success is met with envy and resentment.
(on his friendship with Peter Cushing) I don't want to sound gloomy, but, at some point of your lives, every one of you will notice that you have in your life one person, one friend whom you love and care for very much. That person is so close to you that you are able to share some things only with him. For example, you can call that friend, and from the very first maniacal laugh or some other joke you will know who is at the other end of that line. We used to do that with him so often. And then when that person is gone, there will be nothing like that in your life ever again.
[on doing Military Intelligence in World War II] When people say to me, you know, were you in this? Were you in that? Did you work in this? Did you work in that? I always used to say "Can you keep a secret?". And they would say "Yes, yes" and I would say "So can I".
Some of the films I've been in I regret making. I got conned into making these pictures in almost every case by people who lied to me. Some years ago, I got a call from my producers saying that they were sending me a script and that five very distinguished American actors were also going to be in the film. Actors like José Ferrer, Dean Jagger and John Carradine. So I thought, "Well, that's alright by me." But it turned out it was a complete lie. Appropriately, the film was called End of the World (1977).
I've seen many men die right in front of me - so many in fact that I've become almost hardened to it. Having seen the worst that human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise, we would never have won.
When you're involved in a war it's the old saying "If your name's written on the bullet, there's nothing you can do about it." So you just banished it from your mind. Of course, I was scared on some occasions and anyone who says they aren't scared during an operation probably isn't telling the truth. I know about six people who had no fear. Literally none. Whether that was due to a lack of imagination or because they'd conquered it, I don't know. In fact, one was Iain Duncan Smith's father, who was one of my closest friends. But during a war, people are taught to kill and they have the blessings of the authorities to do so, so if it's your life or somebody else's, you want to be quite sure it's not yours.
[on the Rhapsody DVD documentary special edition of "The Dark Secret"] One should try anything he can in his career, except folkdance and incest.
[Criticizing Hollywood's obsession with youth] The problem today, and I think it's a very dangerous one for the people concerned, is that there are quite large numbers of very young men and women from 18 to 30, and they are playing very large parts in huge films and they simply, through no fault of their own, don't have the background and the experience and the knowledge to pull if off. And it's dangerous for them because if they are in one failure after another, sooner or later people are going to say, "Well, he may have a pretty face but he's not bringing the public in." So many of these good-looking - sometimes even pretty - boys and girls are getting these good roles and it's not fair on them. At some point, it's going to catch up.
In my opinion - and I think I know as much if not more about Bond than anyone, particularly about the characters on whom [Ian Fleming] told me Bond was based - Pierce Brosnan was by far the best and closest to the character.
I've always acknowledged my debt to Hammer. I've always said I'm very grateful to them. They gave me this great opportunity, made me a well-known face all over the world for which I am profoundly grateful.
(on the technology used to film Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)) The advances have been phenomenal. There is a monitor on the camera there that is static, a monitor on the crane, and all these monitors scattered all over the place. What he's seeing is what you will see when you see the movie.
I was once asked what I thought was the most disquieting thing you could see on the screen and I said, "An open door".
Acting is like a snowstorm or perhaps a large empty vacuum. I'm not deluded by the fact that I'm getting all these offers for work, I'm very happy about it, but I know also that there is the other side and who knows, next year, they may not offer me anything. You never know.
I think acting is a mixture of instinct, imagination and inventiveness. All you can learn as an actor is basic technique.
[on how he was cast as the monster in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)] I was asked to play the creature chiefly because of my size and height which had effectively kept me out of many pictures I might have appeared in during the preceding ten years. Most British stars flatly refused to have me anywhere near them in a film, because I was easily the tallest man around.
[on Peter Cushing] He really was the most gentle and generous of men. I have often said he died because he was too good for this world.
(on Vincent Price and Peter Cushing) They were both grand masters of their art but more importantly as human beings... wonderful people, wonderful actors and I miss them very very much.
Anthony Hopkins used to say, "I don't play villains, I play people," and it's a quote I use all the time. There's not much attractive about Hannibal Lecter though, although he's obviously charming and there's a side to him that's like Scaramanga (a Bond villain played by Lee), although far, far worse. He was quite stomach-churning.
(2003) I vote Conservative, and I think Michael Howard is the ideal person to lead the party. When the last election was won by Labour, I said to my wife, "The man we need is Michael Howard", and I've said it ever since. He is an honourable man and his power lies in the fact that he is a splendid debater. Ann Widdecombe's comment (that Howard had "something of the night" about him) is meaningless, as far as I'm concerned.
I will play no more monsters. Dracula is different; he is such an exciting person.
A real actor has to have an awful lot of imagination, and I do have a great deal.
You can never be a proper actor without good instincts.
I would rather have been an opera singer than anything else.
I prefer to watch the old movies. The film stars of today, in my opinion, don't compare with their predecessors. The best are very good, but the last giant of cinema, I think, was Bette Davis. One actor I admire, who could become a giant, is Johnny Depp. He has elements that other actors don't possess.
I think that - apart from the fields of science and medicine - we live in an age of decline. Look at the world. There is decline in morals, ideals, manners, respect, truthfulness: just about everything, in fact.
[on Johnny Depp's hints at retiring from acting] Johnny is a star - and that's not a term I ever use lightly. There are not a lot of them around today. It makes me sad that such a genuinely talented person is considering giving it all up.
[from an interview in 2011] Please don't describe me as a "horror legend". I moved on from that.
I hate being idle. As dear Boris [Boris Karloff] used to say, when I die I want to die with my boots on.
"Good" people... being persistently noble can become rather uninteresting. There is a dark side in all of us. And for us "bad" people, the bad side dominates. I think there is a great sadness in villains, and I have tried to put that across. We cannot stop ourselves doing what we are doing.
When the Second World War finished, I was 23 and already I had seen enough horror to last me a lifetime. I'd seen dreadful, dreadful things, without saying a word. Seeing horror depicted on film doesn't affect me much.
To be a legend, you've either got to be dead or excessively old.
Of course, you can be... disappointed at times. I've done movies which are remarkably horrid. I've been wildly miscast in others. I've given some truly lackluster performances in still others. But, it's all part of your training.
One day, I hope somebody will sum up my career thus: "He was different". That would satisfy me.
It doesn't bother me to be remembered as Dracula. Why should it? What does bother me is when people say, "Ah yes, there goes Dracula," or "There goes the horror king." It simply isn't true. I'm quite annoyed when people don't acknowledge that I've done anything else.
Such is the power of the screen that people are sometimes apt to confuse the public image with the private individual. When I meet people socially, I'm occasionally greeted with reactions along the lines of "You mean you read books? You enjoy music? You play golf?" It's very strange. People expect me to behave off-screen as I do on. Of course, they don't expect to find me slaughtering people in all directions, but, for instance, their reaction is "I don't believe it! You're an actor! You're not supposed to sing!" And most people expect me to behave in a certain way socially. Children are the shrewdest of my fans. No child has ever drawn back from me in real life. They sense that my roles are fairy tales, morality plays.
If you're playing a heroic character, it's very hard not to make him a total bore. But, with a villainous character, there are many, many levels in which you can present him. He can be amusing. He can be lonely. He can be mad, childish, naive, futuristic. You can't play heroes like that. It's impossible. You just can't imbue them with all those characteristics. But, when you toy with the dark side of the soul, imagination comes into the forefront. You can enjoy it more and, hence, communicate that joy to the audience.
[from a 1983 magazine interview] Quite frankly, I'm grateful to Dracula. If people today remember me in the role and still enjoy it, I'm flattered. If, through some strange twist of fate, I was able to take a character some 25 years ago and create an impact where by I suddenly became known throughout the world, how can I complain?
Most people find my villains memorable because I try to make them as unconventional as possible. They are not overt monsters. It's easy to play a "heavy" straight down the middle, 100%, but it's boring. I don't think I've ever played a villain who didn't have some unusual, humanizing trait. When I look back at my men with the black hats, they've always had something else going for them, whether it be a sardonic sense of humor or a feeling of desolation. I always try to throw as many curves the audience's way as possible. That's probably why people enjoy my villainy.
I try to describe acting as a combination of the three D's and the three I's. Discipline, dedication, devotion. Imagination, instinct, intelligence. Even if all my films haven't pleased everybody, I'd like people to realize that I've always given each film my all. I would like to think that I've shown integrity and dedication in every one of my roles. I always do my best and, you know, I really do love what I do.
Whenever I take a role, I try to find an element in the character which appeals to me and then go to work. Occasionally, you have doubts about how the finished film will look after it's been edited, but that's a chance you always take. I play every part for what it's worth - for its merits, no matter how big or small. What's that old cliché? "There are no small roles, only small actors." It's true.
People sometimes come up to me, and they say, "I've seen all your films, Mr. Lee," and I say, "Oh no, you haven't.".
Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.
[on the Italian films he worked on] The only major difference I noticed in these films was that [Mario Bava] used a great deal of highly imaginative lighting, as befitted a great cameraman. Steno was more precise and disciplined, and had very definite ideas which were almost always right. [Antonio Margheriti] seemed to have more money to spend and was much more flexible, and certainly used several cameras to cover one shot. [Camillo Mastrocinque] was perhaps more a director of the old school. He told you what he wanted and left you to get on with it. If it was wrong, he was expert at adjusting it correctly. All these directors were delightful, courteous, and very intelligent men, and I had the impression that they spent a great deal of their careers improving material that was not worthy of them.
[on Jesús Franco] A much better director than he's given credit for. Intelligent. Good ideas. He wasn't given enough time (on Eugenie (1970)), I suppose that was the budget. And therefore, he's been very misjudged in some respects on some films. He's done some very strange films I understand, but I didn't know about that. But the ones that I've done with him, he has always been very easygoing, great sense of humor, very funny stories in English and in French and in Spanish. And as I say, much underrated because he could do a great deal better than the opportunities he was given.
My confidence in The Face of Fu Manchu (1965) was justified. The picture did well. The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966) was tosh. The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967) took me to Hong Kong for some excellent golf.

Salary (3)

Dracula (1958) $1,360
Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht (1970) $80,000
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) £40,000

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