Birthday: May 27, 1922
Died At Age: 93
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee
Born Country: England
Born in: Belgravia, Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom
Famous as: Actor
Quotes By Christopher Lee
Height: 6'5" (196 cm), 6'5" Males
father: Geoffrey Trollope Lee
mother: Contessa Estelle Marie, Estelle Marie Carandini di Sarzano
children: Christina Erika Carandini Lee
Died on: June 7, 2015
place of death: Chelsea, London, England, United Kingdom
education: Wellington College, Eton, Summer Fields School, The Company of Youth
Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was a famous English actor and singer. He was best known for his work in horror films produced by ‘Hammer Studios.’ He collaborated on ‘Star Wars’ with his good friend Peter Cushing who played ‘Grand Moff Tarkin.’ He himself portrayed ‘Count Dooku,’ a character with superhuman powers. Sir Christopher appeared as the primary villain ‘Francisco Scaramanga’ in the ‘James Bond’ film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun.’ He also worked with George Lucas on Lucas’s 1992 television series ‘The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles’ in which he portrayed ‘Count Ottokar Graf Czerin’ in an episode titled ‘Austria, March 1917.’ Sir Christopher played ‘Saruman’ in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, which won him high accolades. He also tried his hand at music and came up with his CD ‘Revelation.’ He also worked with the Italian power metal band ‘Rhapsody of Fire,’ singing few of their songs along with the band’s lead singer. He was honored with the ‘Spirit of Metal’ award at the 2010 ‘Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards.’
Childhood & Early Life
Christopher Lee was born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee on 27 May 1922, in Belgravia, London, England, to British Army Officer Geoffrey Trollope Lee and his wife Contessa Estelle Marie (née Carandini di Sarzano).
His parents separated when he was quite young, and his mother took him and his sister to Switzerland.
He was enrolled at ‘Miss Fisher’s Academy’ in Wengen where he played his first villainous role as ‘Rumpelstiltskin.’ Soon, the family returned to London and he was admitted in ‘Summer Field’s School,’ a preparatory school in Oxford. Afterwards, he received a scholarship to attend ‘Eton College’ and ‘Wellington College’ where he was a classical scholar in ancient Greek and Latin.
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In 1939, he enlisted in the ‘Royal Air Force’ during ‘Second World War’ from where he retired later with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. He also served as an intelligence officer with the ‘Long Range Desert Group’ in Northern Africa and in the ‘Special Forces.’
After the war ended, he was admitted to ‘Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects’ and was assigned the task of tracking down Nazi war criminals.
In 1947, he entered the film industry and earned a seven-year contract with ‘Rank Organization.’ He got enrolled at an acting school for ‘Rank Organization’ where aspiring actors were being groomed for stardom. Soon, he made his film debut in Terence Young’s ‘Corridors of Mirrors,’ a gothic romance.
1952 proved to be a turning point in his career as Douglas Fairbanks Jr. started making films at the ‘British National Studios.’ In the same year, he appeared in John Huston’s ‘Moulin Rouge,’ which was later nominated for ‘Oscars.’
In 1959, he starred in Hammer’s ‘The Mummy’ and then portrayed ‘Rasputin’ in ‘Rasputin, the Mad Monk.’ In the same year, he also played the role of ‘Sir Henry Baskerville’ in ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles.’
In 1962, he appeared in ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace.’ He then played the leading role in a German film titled ‘The Puzzle of the Red Orchid.’
In 1970, he played Sherlock's brother 'Mycroft' in Billy Wilder’s ‘The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.’
Some of the other films in which he appeared during this time period include ‘The Creeping Flesh’ (1972), ‘The Wicker Man’ (1973), and two German films namely ‘Count Dracula’ and ‘The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism.’ He also worked in few European movies, including ‘Castle of the Living Dead’ and ‘Horror Express.’
In 1974, he was cast as the villain ‘Francisco Scaramanga’ in James Bond’s film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun.’
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In 1977, he left for America and did a number of films, including ‘The Return of Captain Invincible’ (1983), and ‘Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf’ (1985). He appeared as ‘Sherlock Holmes’ in ‘Incident at Victoria Falls’ (1991) and ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady’ (1991).
In 1994, he starred as a Russian commander in ‘Police Academy: Mission to Moscow.’
In 1998, he played the role of ‘Muhammad Ali Jinnah,’ the founder of Pakistan, in the film ‘Jinnah.’ The film received an overwhelmingly positive response in Pakistan and he confessed that ‘Jinnah’ was the favorite role of his career so far.
He did many television roles, including the role of ‘Flay’ in the BBC mini-series ‘Gormenghast’ (2000). He then played ‘Stephen Wyszynski’ in the CBS mini-series ‘John Paul II’ (2005).
In 2009, he appeared in Stephen Poliakoff’s British war thriller film ‘Glorious 39,’ drama film ‘Triage,’ and Duncan Ward’s comedy film ‘Boogie Woogie.’
In 2011, he appeared in Hammer’s film ‘The Resident’ alongside Hillary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The film received negative response from the critics. In the same year, he also appeared in the critically acclaimed ‘Hugo,’ which was directed by Martin Scorsese.
He voiced many characters, including ‘King Haggard’ in ‘The Last Unicorn,’ and ‘Thor’ in the Danish film ‘Valhalla.’ He also provided his voice for the English dub of ‘Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday’ and in the animated versions of ‘Soul Music’ and ‘Wyrd Sisters.’
He provided his voice for many video games as well, including ‘Kingdom Hearts II,’ ‘Kingdom Hearts 352/2 Days,’ ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth’ and ‘Golden Eye: Rouge Agent.’
With his classically trained bass voice, he provided vocals to a song in ‘The Return of Captain Invincible.’ He also provided vocals to Kathy Joe Daylor's song ‘Little Witch.’
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In 2013, he narrated a documentary titled ‘Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics.’
The following year, he was seen in an episode of ‘Timeshift’ called ‘How to Be Sherlock Holmes: The Many Faces of a Master Detective.’
His posthumous releases include ‘Angels in Notting Hill,’ in which he had voiced ‘God / Mr. President.’ He had also narrated a short film titled ‘The Hunting of the Snark,’ which released in 2017.
In 1957, he landed the role of Frankenstein’s monster in Hammer’s ‘The Curse of Frankenstein.’ Thereafter, he appeared as the Transylvanian vampire in Hammer’s ‘Dracula,’ which was inspired by Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name. It was a critical and commercial success.
In 1965, he reprised his role as ‘Dracula’ in Hammer’s second installment of the ‘Dracula’ series titled ‘Dracula: Prince of Darkness,’ which was well received by the critics. Furthermore, he starred in ‘Dracula Has Risen from the Grave’ (1968), ‘Taste the Blood of Dracula’ (1969), and ‘Scars of Dracula’ (1970), all of which were commercially successful.
He introduced Dennis Wheatley, an occult novelist, to Hammer, who made a movie based on his novel, starring Lee. This movie was titled ‘The Devil Rides Out’ (1967) and is considered to be Hammer’s greatest achievement.
In 1973, he appeared in Richard Lester’s ‘Three Musketeers.’ In the following year, he appeared in ‘The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge.’ In 1989, he reprised his role in ‘The Return of the Musketeers.’
From 2001 to 2003, he appeared as ‘Saruman’ in the fantasy adventure film trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Directed by Peter Jackson, the trilogy was based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel. It was considered to be one of the biggest and most ambitious film projects ever, and proved to be a turning point in his career.
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He also appeared as the villainous ‘Count Dooku’ in ‘Star Wars’ films, such as ‘Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones’ (2002) and ‘Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith’ (2005).
He appeared in several films alongside Tim Burton, which catapulted him to fame. These films were ‘Corpse Bride’ (2005) and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ (2005). In 2007, he collaborated with Burton for ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.’ 2010 marked his fourth collaboration with Burton as they worked in the film adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic book ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ 2012 saw his fifth collaboration with Burton as they worked in ‘Dark Shadows,’ which was an adaptation of a Gothic soap opera.
On March 15, 2010, he released his first metal album titled ‘Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross.’
On May 27, 2012, he announced the release of his new single ‘Let Legend Mark Me as the King’ from his upcoming album ‘Charlemagne: The Omens of Death.’ In the same year, he released an EP called ‘A Heavy Metal Christmas.’
Awards & Achievements
In 1984, he won ‘International Fantasy Film Award’ for his contribution to the fantasy film genre.
In 1995, he won Bram Stoker’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award.’
In 2002, he was given a ‘Special Award’ for lifetime achievement at the ‘Evening Standard British Film Awards.’ In the same year, he won ‘Online Film Critics Society Award’ under the ‘Best Ensemble’ category for ‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.’ He also received the ‘Phoenix Film Critics’ Society Award’ under the ‘Best Acting Ensemble’ category for the same movie.
In 2003, he won ‘MTV Movie Award’ for ‘Best Fight’ in ‘Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.’ He also won the ‘Online Film Critics Society Award’ and ‘Phoenix Film Critics Society Award’ under the ‘Best Ensemble’ category for the movie ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.’ In the same year, he received the ‘Living Treasure Award’ at the ‘Seattle Film Critics’ Awards.’
In 2011, he was presented with the ‘BAFTA Academy Fellowship’ by Tim Burton. In the same year, he was honored by the ‘University College Dublin.’ He was also honored with Bram Stoker’s gold medal by the philosophical society of ‘Trinity College.’ The government of France made him commander of the order of arts and letters.
In 1961, he married a Danish model named Birgit ‘Gitte’ Lee. He and his wife were blessed with a daughter whom they named Christina Erika Carandini Lee. He and his wife were listed among the ‘Fifty Best-dressed over 50s’ by the ‘Guardian’ in March 2013.
He died of respiratory problems and heart failure on June 7, 2015, at the age of 93.
He appeared on the album cover of ‘Band on the Run,’ which was performed by Paul McCartney’s band ‘Wings.’
A follower of the ‘British Conservative Party,’ Lee supported William Hague and David Cameron.