Charlemagne, Christopher Lee; horror; devils, Revelation; By the Sword and the Cross; The Omens of Death; heavy metal; Neverwhere; Neil Gaiman; Hammer Horror; Dracula; Frankenstein; The Mummy; Rasputin; Lord Summerisle; The Wicker Man; Scaramanga, steven moffat, villains, Vincent Price
It is with great sadness that I have updated this dedication to Christopher Lee, which was originally written to commemorate his 91st birthday in May 2013.
RIP Christopher Lee (1922-2015)
Christopher Lee, war veteran, actor, and singer, has one of the most impressive IMDB profiles – if not the most impressive. His acting career alone spanned eight decades and he never rested for one single year, since his career began. Today we say a sad farewell to our hero. He was, is, and always will be, my favourite horror actor. It is with much respect that I would like to honour this most distinguished of men, one I have always admired and held in the highest esteem. It was my ambition to appear on the big screen with him. Alas.
Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was born in 1922. He graduated with a degree in classics (something we have in common!) from Wellington College, Berkshire. He served during WWII in the RAF and British Intelligence. It wasn’t until 1947 that he began his acting career. Since then, he had some kind of on-screen involvement every single year to date. Furthermore, he was also a classically trained singer who released several albums: Devils, Rogues and Other Villains (1998); Revelation (2006); Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross (2010), Charlemagne: The Omens of Death, A Heavy Metal Christmas (2012), A Heavy Metal Christmas Too (2013), and Metal Knight (2014).
Here is Lee’s Christmas message from 2012.
In his Christmas message to fans, Christopher talked about his involvement recording the radio play Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
Christopher Lee became famous for his involvement with Hammer Horror films, his most memorable and iconic role being Dracula. He played the part a total of 10 times: Dracula aka Horror of Dracula (1958); Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966); Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1968); Count Dracula (1970); Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970); One More Time (1970); Scars of Dracula (1970); Dracula Today aka Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) ; The Satanic Rites of Dracula 1973); Dracula Pere et fils (1976).
Christopher Lee as Dracula was my introduction to horror. They say you never forget your first love, and I never have. The Hammer Dracula movies were usually on TV on a Friday night and it was the only night in the week I was allowed to stay up late – I looked forward to it all week. Despite being the villain of the piece, I could not help but feel sorry for him when at last Peter Cushing would find some new way to destroy Count Dracula, be it through sunlight, water or a stake through the heart!
Lee also took on many other villainous roles: The Creature in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957); Kharis the Mummy in The Mummy (1959); Grigori Rasputin in Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966); Lucifer in Poor Devil (1973); Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man (1973); Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974); and, of course, Saruman in Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
Christopher not only will always be my favourite horror actor, who starred ten times as my favourite horror villain, Dracula, he also starred as my favourite detective, Sherlock Holmes in Valley of Fear (1962) Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1991) and Incident at Victoria Falls (1992). He also played two other Sherlock Holmes characters: Sir Henry Baskerville in Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) and the detective’s brother Mycroft Holmes in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970).
The actor/singer was not limited to horror. However, he played the villain in about eighty five percent of his c200+ movies. He amassed an appearance in approximately sixty three horror films (I may have lost count, but it’s about that…excluding fantasy and science-fiction). He also starred in numerous comedies. Despite his preferred roles, Lee evidently had a good sense of humour. Some of his horror biography includes: Howling 2: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch (1985) and playing Dr Catheter in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990).
Christopher Lee will always be notorious for his villainous roles, his “deeply melodic basso voice” and his “towering height”. At 6 foot 5 inches, he was one of the tallest actors in Hollywood! He held the Guinness World Record for being “The Tallest Leading Actor”. He was an honorary member of three stuntmen’s unions, and did his own stunts until later years. He received a knighthood in the 2009 for his accomplishments in film, television and charity.
During his Hammer Horror years he met, and became good friends with, Peter Cushing, another actor I cherish. Cushing usually played the contrasting heroic protagonist to Lee’s villain. He died in 1994, aged 81, and would have been 102 this year on 26th May, the day before Lee’s birthday.
Lee considered The Wicker Man to be his best film. The part of Lord Summerisle was especially written for him, and he thought of it as a tremendous movie. I agree. Unfortunately, about twenty minutes of the movie is cut, which Christopher always believed would have made it ten times better. He also talked about his favourite role as Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, in a press conference at Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival on 21st March 2002, giving a poignant reminder of life in the twenty first century.
Whilst Jinnah is not a horror, and Lee does not play the villain, it is an important and historically accurate portrayal of the life and times of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. It is also a film that would interest anyone living in an oppressed society, who wishes to be independent from their oppressors, with the message that independence does not (and should not) mean becoming enemies.
For Speeches, Articles, Quotes, Pictures, Videos, Slideshows and other Research material about Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, please visit the following site – click here.
At 93 years of age, Lee still had that je nais se quoi. He was every bit as sexy, with a voice that would melt stone. He is – present tense – without a doubt, the Master of Horror. Nae, the King! He is the iconic Dracula, Prince of Darkness. He, along with Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, is a classic hero of horror. The King is dead, but like the Prince of Darkness he is best known for playing, he is eternal. His light will always shine, and he will always be loved and remembered.
RIP Christopher Lee
Your friend, A.D. (b. 1972)
Jim Davidson said:
Sir Christopher is one of my favourite horror actors too, Alyson. His Dracula performances opposite Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing stand out. I was unaware of his musical side, and amazed that he has released a metal album – the man goes up and up in my estimation. Can I just add that he also played super-villain Fu Manchu in a number of late 60’s/early 70’s movies (they chose a 6’5″ occidental to play a Chinaman…?) which I also enjoy immensely, and the wicked Count Duku in one of the later Star Wars movies. He’s a man of many parts, a true professional, and a real gentleman.
Can I also add that it pretty cool that you were born in 1972, AD… 😉
Alyson Dunlop said:
Thanks so much for your message, Jim. I saw he had played Fu Manchu, though I’ve not seen any of those films. I will definitely make an effort to watch them soon, though! I want to re-watch all his Dracula ones first.
You are so right. He has a phenomenally wide range of abilities!
I know. Heehee. I’ve always thought the AD 72 thing was brilliant, and never had a forum to voice it, but now I’m a member of various classic horror groups on Facebook, and am amongst fellow geeks who understand. As you do! 😉
Love your blog so much I’ve nominated it for a beautiful blogger award. Good luck x
Alyson Dunlop said:
OMG! Thanks so much, Norma! I’m delighted! x
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