The legend Christopher Lee was an English actor, singer, and author. The veteran actor spent nearly seven decades of his life in the entertainment industry. Lee is best known for his role as Count Dracula in Hammer Horror films. He is also known for his role as Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and Saruman in both the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the Hobbit film trilogy. He has starred in numerous English and American movies in his acting career. Besides acting, Lee also has several singing credits and has released metal albums.
For his contribution to the industry, he was awarded numerous accolades and honors. The following article discusses the detailed life story of the veteran actor, Christopher Lee.
What is Christopher Lee Famous For?
- Late veteran English actor.
Where is Christopher Lee From?
Christopher Lee was born on 27 May 1922. His birth name is Christopher Frank Carandini Lee. His birth place was in Belgravia, London in England. He held an English nationality. His religion was Anglo-Catholic Christianity. His zodiac sign was Gemini. He was born to the Lieutenant Colonel of the 60th King’s Royal Rifle Corps Geoffrey Trollope Lee and Countess mother Estelle Marie. His mother’s lineage can be traced to Charlemagne. He had one sister Xandra Carandini Lee who died in 2002. His parents separated when he was four years old. After the divorce, his mother took him and his sister to Wengen in Switzerland. He played his first role, Rumpelstiltskin there. The family returned to London where Lee attended Wagner’s private school in Queen’s Gate. His mother married Harcourt George St-Croix Rose. He attended Summer Fields School when he was nine. He later applied for a scholarship to Eton but failed to win the scholarship. He attended Wellington College where he studied Ancient Greek and Latin with scholarships in the classics. He was an athletic student and played racquets, fencing, cricket. After his step-father went bankrupt, Lee quit college with one year left. His mother separated from his step-father and Lee had to get a job to support the family. He worked several jobs.
Christopher Lee Military Service
Prior to his acting career, Christopher Lee served in the Royal Air Force. When the Second World War broke out in 1939, Lee had enrolled in a military academy and volunteered to fight for the Finnish Army against the Soviet Union during the Winter War. Lee was issued winter gear and posted on guard duty a safe distance from the border. He was attached to the No. 260 Squadron RAF as an Intelligence officer where he was a liaison officer for the Special Operations Executive. He retired from the RAF in 1946 following his World War II service. He retired with the rank of flight lieutenant.
Christopher Lee Acting Career
- After retiring from the military, he returned to London. He thought of becoming an actor after his cousin Nicolo Caradini suggested he become an actor. He already had acting gigs while in school and college.
- Lee made his film debut in Terence Young’s Gothic romance Corridor of Mirrors in 1947.
- Lee is known for appearing as Count Dracula in a sequence of Hammer Horror films.
- His first film for Hammer was The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957. He played Frankenstein’s monster. He played Count Dracula in the 1958 film, Dracula. He reprised these roles in numerous sequel movies.
- Lee and Peter Cushing appeared together in over twenty films and became close friends.
- He left the UK to move to Hollywood in 1977.
- His first American film was the disaster film Airport ’77 in 1977. He later starred in numerous Hollywood films.
- His other most notable roles include Francisco Scaramanga in the 1974 James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
- He is also known for his role as Saruman in both Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the Hobbit film trilogy.
- He has also starred in several television series. He also had voice roles in several movies.
Christopher Lee Music Career
- Besides his acting and voice roles, Lee was also known for his singing abilities.
- He sang on The Wicker Man soundtrack performing Paul Giovanni’s composition, “The Tinker of Rye”. He later sang several soundtracks, opera, and musical pieces.
- His first heavy metal music came by singing a duet with Fabio Lione on the single, “The Magic of the Wizard’s Dream”.
- He later became narrator and backing vocalist on the band’s four albums Symphony of Enchanted Lands II-The Dark Secret, Triumph or Agony, The Frozen Tears of Angels, and From Chaos to Eternity.
- He released his debut album, Christopher Lee Sings Devils, Rogues & Other Villains in 1998.
- He released his second album, Revelation in 2006.
- He released a symphonic metal album, Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross in 2010.
- His final heavy metal album, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death was released on his 91st birthday on 27 May 2013.
- His final appearance on a musical record came as a narrator in the track “The Last Vampire” by the supergroup, Hollywood Vampires. The supergroup consists of Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry.
Christopher Lee Wife
Christopher Lee was married only once in his life. He was married to Birgit “Gittie” Kroncke. The couple got married in 1961. Their daughter, Christina Erika Carandini Lee was born in 1963. Lee and his daughter provided spoken vocals on Rhapsody of Fire’s album From Chaos to Eternity.
He was previously engaged in the late-1950s to Henriette von Rosen. Lee later ended the engagement shortly before the wedding.
Christopher Lee Death
Christopher Lee died at the Chelsea and Westminister Hospital on 7 June 2015. He died after being admitted for respiratory problems and heart failure, shortly after celebrating his 93rd birthday. He had moved to England and lived with his family in Cadogan Square, London until his death. His death was publicly announced by his wife on 11 June. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron called Lee a “titan of the golden age of cinema”.
Christopher Lee Height
Veteran actor Christopher Lee stood at a height of 1.96 m i.e. 6 feet and 5 inches tall. He had a body weight of around 165 lbs i.e. 75 kg. He had an average body build. His hair color was dark brown which grew silver-white with age. His eye color was black. His sexual orientation was straight.
Christopher Lee spent the majority of his life in the entertainment industry. He served in the military prior to his acting career. However, he eventually entered showbiz. He made his fortune working in the entertainment industry in the UK and the US. His net worth around the time of his death was estimated at around $25 million.