Christopher Lee, the prolific actor best known for playing some of the cinema’s biggest villains in a career that spanned more than 65 years, has died at the age of 93. Lee passed away on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London. Lee was under treatment for respiratory issues and heart failure. Lee’s death was not released to the public, until his wife was able to tell their family first.
Lee was an intelligence officer for the Royal Air Force during World War II, quickly following he got into acting. However, it wasn’t until 1957 that got the role of the Monster in The Curse of Frankenstein with U.K company Hammer Film Production best known for producing dark horror films.
It is with Hammer Film Production that Lee begin a villainous career, starring as the brooding, yet mesmerizing Dracula in 1958. Lee soon became the frightening face of terror for many movie-goers playing the Count a record 8 times over the next 20 years.
But the roles didn’t stop there for Lee, as he’s played many iconic characters in many iconic films. Some multiple times. Sherlock Holmes; Dr. Fu Manchu; the rogue Rochefort in 1973’s The Three Musketeers and its sequel the following year The Four Musketeers; James Bond antagonist Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With the Golden Gun; and the nefarious Lord Summerisle in the 1975 cult classic the Wicker Man.
Lee’s career went through a bit of a lull, that’s is until the actor landed roles in a few major movie franchises over that past 15 years. He’s starred as Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels and has played the Wizard Saruman in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Lee would reprise his role in The Hobbit trilogy, last starring in Battle of the Five Armies. In 2009, Lee received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.
Lee’s final role will come in 2016 along side Uma Thurman in The 11th – following eight interwoven stories, which occur in the lead-up to the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Lee plays a distinguished, but alcoholic former surgeon who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“At my age, the most important thing for me is to keep active by doing things that I truly enjoy,” Lee said in an interview about his musical passions last year. “I do not know how long I am going to be around, so every day is a celebration and I want to share it with my fans.”