LONDON — Sir Christopher Lee, the British actor who mastered horror and Dracula roles before his turns as a Bond villain and the wizard Saruman in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, died this week, a London borough spokesman said Thursday.
Lee, 93, died Sunday, the spokesman for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said.
Lee initially made his name in horror films, playing Count Dracula and Frankenstein in a series films for Britain’s Hammer studios from the 1950s until the 1970s.
He had numerous movie and TV roles beginning in 1948, including more than 150 on film, often as a villain. In one such role, he appeared as James Bond’s nemesis Francisco Scaramanga in 1974’s “The Man with the Golden Gun.”
His more recent film credits include the menacing Saruman in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and fallen Jedi knight Count Dooku in the “Star Wars” prequels.
In his last few years, the white-haired actor took to a tongue-in-cheek heavy metal career, releasing the holiday albums “A Heavy Metal Christmas” and “A Heavy Metal Christmas Too” in 2012 and 2013.
He earned a number of high honors in a film career reaching nearly seven decades, including being named a knight of the British Empire in 2009.
Here’s an in-depth look at British actor Christopher Lee’s life:
Personal: Birth date: May 27, 1922
Birthplace: London, England
Birth name: Christopher Frank Carandini Lee
Father: Geoffrey Lee, a professional soldier
Mother: Contessa Estelle Marie Carandini di Sarzano
Marriage: Birgit “Gitte” Kroencke Lee (March 17, 1961 – present)
Children: Christina Ericka, November 23, 1963
Military Service: Royal Air Force and Special Forces, 1941-1946, Flight Lieutenant
Other Facts: Speaks four languages: French, Italian, Spanish, and German.
Worked with British Intelligence in World War II.
Only member of the cast of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy who met author J.R.R. Tolkien.
Lee is a distant relative by his mother’s second marriage, to Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond.
Timeline: 1939-1941 – Works as an office clerk until joining the RAF during World War II.
1947 – Joins the Rank Organization acting school, often called “The Charm School,” a British program that groomed new acting talent.
1948 – First movie “Corridor of Mirrors” is released.
1957 – Begins working with Hammer Film Productions, the start of his horror film career. “The Curse of Frankenstein” is released that same year.
1958 – “Horror of Dracula” is released, the first time Lee portrays Count Dracula.
1965 – The first of Dr. Fu Manchu movies, “The Face of Fu Manchu,” is released.
1974 – Appears as James Bond’s nemesis in “The Man with the Golden Gun”.
1977 – His autobiography, “Tall, Dark and Gruesome,” is published.
2001 – In recognition of his contributions to film, he receives the Commander of the Order of the British Empire award.
2002 – Stars in two of the year’s top grossing movies, “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”
2003 – His autobiography is re-released with a new title, “Lord of Misrule: The Autobiography of Christopher Lee.”
2009 – Is made a Knight of the British Empire.
February 2011 – Receives the Academy Fellowship, the highest honor, at the Orange British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA).
2012 – Reprises his role as Saruman from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy in part one of “The Hobbit” trilogy, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
May 27, 2013 – Releases his “100 percent heavy metal” album, “Charlemagne: The Omens of Death”, a follow-up to the more symphonic “Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross from 2010.
December 2013 – Releases a second heavy metal Christmas album, “A Heavy Metal Christmas Too,” a follow-up to his 2012 “A Heavy Metal Christmas.”