Farewell Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy, Fu Manchu, Saruman and Count Dooku
Whilst he was no spring chicken and had been in poor health for years, it's still sad to learn that actor Sir Christopher Lee passed away on Sunday at the age of 93.Lee rose to fame playing Count Dracula and it was a role from which he never really escaped. He first wore the fangs and cloak for Hammer's film adaptation of Dracula in 1958, with friend and regular co-star Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. The two had appeared together the previous year in Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein, in which Cushing played the titular Baron and Lee his creation. In 1958 the pair would tackle Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, with Cushing as Holmes and Lee as the cursed Sir Henry Baskerville. Lee would later play the Great Detective himself in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, as well as his brother Mycroft in Billy Wilder's The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes in 1970.
In fact Lee played just about every great genre role at some point including The Mummy in Hammer's film of the same name in 1959, Rasputin in Rasputin: The Mad Monk and Fu Manchu in numerous films, even if that latter role seems culturally insensitive these days. He also appeared memorably in To the Devil a Daughter, The Three Musketeers, The Wicker Man and as Bond villain Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. Lee enjoyed a career renaissance in his later years, playing Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and Count Dooku in Star Wars Episodes II and III; belatedly joining his old friend Peter Cushing who appeared in the original Star Wars. He also worked regularly with Tim Burton, who was a fan, appearing in five of his films.
Over the course of his incredibly long career Lee appeared in literally hundreds of films, he also fought in World War II, was a writer, an opera singer and even enjoyed a brief career in heavy metal. He was cousin to Ian Fleming, met J. R. R. Tolkein whilst at Oxford, was knighted in 2003 and awarded a BAFTA fellowship in 2011. Yet despite not playing the part for Hammer since The Satanic Rights of Dracula in 1973 (out of respect for the dead we won't count, no pun intended, the Italian comedy Dracula and Son that he made in 1976) he will always be remembered for that role. Which is a shame because Lee, although great as Dracula, was so much more than just the Prince of Darkness. Christopher Lee might not be immortal but he leaves behind an amazing body of work that will live on forever.
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