Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

Last Sunday, June 7th, the world of cinema lost one of its greatest legends and icons… Sir Christopher Lee. Christopher Lee passed away at age 93, just one week after his Birthday.

Christopher Lee was the only actor  who has portrayed three different Sherlock Holmes characters: Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft Holmes and Sir Henry Baskerville.

Christopher Lee held the record for number of film roles by an actor. (More of 270 films!)

Christopher Lee appeared on the cover of Paul McCartney’s 1973 album “Band on the Run”.

Christopher Lee 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.

Christopher Lee 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.

And also, he was a very cultivated man… he knew French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Russian and Swedish. Plus he learned how to speak German by listening to Richard Wagner records. And early in his career, Christopher Lee dubbed foreign films into English and other languages including Jacques Tat’s “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday”. 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”.

From an acting dynasty, his great-grandparents founded the first Australian opera company.

His mother was an Italian contessa, and through her Lee descended from the Emperor Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire.

In addition to his impossibly prolific film career, Lee was a world champion fencer, an opera singer, spoke six languages, and was a hell of a golfer.

Christopher Lee met Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, the assassins of the Russian monk Rasputin. He didn’t do this as research for his later film role as Rasputin (in the 1966 Hammer film Rasputin the Mad Monk), but just as a child in the 1920s.

At age 17, he saw the death of the murderer Eugen Weidmann in Paris, the last person in France to be publicly executed by guillotine.

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 was awarded Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand in 2011.

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 is possibly 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 was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 for most screen credits, having appeared in 244 film and TV movies by that point in his career— at which point he made 14 more movies, with a 15th due later this year (titled Angels in Notting Hill). He also holds the record for the tallest leading actor — he stood 6’ 5” — but also for starring in the “most films with a sword fight” with 17.

Vincent Price and Christopher Lee were born on the same day (27th May) and Peter Cushing was born on the 26th.

Remembering Christopher Lee in images.. in his many different roles.

As Scarmanga in 007, The Man with the Golden Gun
As Dracula
As Rochefort in “The Three Musketeers”
As Count Dooku in Star Wars
As Saruman in the majestic “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy
Rest in peace, Sir Christopher Lee. We will never forget you.
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