Christopher Lee

From Academic Kids

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Christopher Lee
This article is about the actor. For the historian, see Christopher Lee (historian).

Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE (born May 27, 1922 in London) is a legendary and prolific British actor known for his versatility and film longevity.

Lee became famous for his role as Count Dracula in a string of Hammer Horror films. He is viewed by many as the quintessential film villain. Other notable films include The Wicker Man and The Man with the Golden Gun. Lee is now over 80 years old, and still appearing in films such as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.


Early Life

He was educated at Eton and Wellington College, where he won scholarships in classics. He volunteered to fight for the Finnish forces during the Winter War against the Soviet Union in 1939, then served in the Royal Air Force and intelligence during World War II.

Career as an actor

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He made his film debut in Terence Young's Gothic Romance, Corridor of Mirrors, in 1948. Throughout the next decade, Lee made nearly 30 films, playing mostly stock action characters. His first film for Hammer, made in 1957 with Peter Cushing, was Curse of Frankenstein, in which he played, "The Creature". That led to his first Dracula film, Horror of Dracula, in 1958. From then on, Lee was periodically featured in numerous horror roles for various studios.

Lee has played roles in over 220 films since 1948, and has had many notable television roles. He appeared as Flay in the BBC television miniseries Gormenghast, based on Mervyn Peake's novels.

As an indication to his profligacy and longevity, Lee has, according to the Oracle of Bacon at Virginia (, an average Bacon number of 2.684104 (as of December 2003), making him second on the list of most suitable centres of the Hollywood universe. This calculation uses a modification of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game.

In 2001 Christoper Lee was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire CBE by Queen Elizabeth II.


Lee is a direct lineal descendent of Charlemagne through his mother's side, a famous Edwardian beauty, the Contessa Estelle Marie Carandini di Sarzano. She was painted by Sir John Lavery, as well as Oswald Birley, Olive Snell and sculpted by Clare Sheridan, a cousin of Winston Churchill.

The Carandini family was given the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Cinemareview cites: "Cardinal Consalvi was Papal Secretary of State at the time of Napoleon and is buried at the Pantheon in Rome next to the painter Raphael. His painting, by Lawrence hangs in Windsor Castle." A further note cites: "A cousin of Christopher Lee was Niccolo Carandini the first Italian ambassador to Britain after World War II and subsequently was President of Alitalia."

Such depth of family skill and knowledge has given Lee the ability to perform a wide variety of roles with great facility.

Author Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, is Lee's cousin and wanted him to play the first James Bond film villain, Dr. Julius No. Lee would eventually play another Bond villain, Francisco Scaramanga, in The Man with the Golden Gun.

Lee appeared on the cover of the Wings album Band on the Run along with other people, including Clement Freud. Also, he narrated the Dark Secret EP by Italian power metal band, Rhapsody.

Lee was a natural choice for the Lord of the Rings movies, where he plays the role of Saruman. Lee had known Tolkien, and makes it a habit of reading the novel at least once a year.

Lee served in the military during World War II, where he acquired the knowledge of the noise a person makes when stabbed in the back (though the exact circumstances of this knowledge are still covered by the Official Secrets Act). He put this to use when filming The Lord of the Rings, as can be seen on the Extended Edition DVD of The Return of the King.

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Lee reprised his Star Wars role as Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Lee's great-grandparents formed Australia's first opera company, performing before miners in towns in the outback.

Lee sings on The Wicker Man soundtrack -- in character as the modern pagan noble in the film -- performing Paul Giovanni's psych folk composition, The Tinker of Rye.

He is fluent in German and good in speaking French.

Lee is married to the Danish (or Dutch) model Birgit Kroencke (since 1961). They have a daughter named Christina (born 23 November 1963).

Books by Christopher Lee

Selected Films

External links

fr:Christopher Lee nl:Christopher Lee ja:クリストファー・リー pl:Christopher Lee fi:Christopher Lee sv:Christopher Lee


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