A longevity of entertainers could easily be encapsulated by the likes of Rita Moreno, Nichelle Nichols, Patti LaBelle, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart. If one of them were to pass away, it would cause some of us to pause, be nostalgic and celebrate their lives and exceptional body of work.
It is sad to report that Sir Christopher Lee – the star of past “Dracula” films and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy – died on Sunday morning, June 7, in London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital due to respiratory problems. Lee was 93.
Sir Christopher Frank Caradini Lee was born a few years after WWI in 1922 (05/27/1922 to 06/07/2015).
Lee, like Moreno, McKellen and Stewart, has had an an exceptional and iconic body of work. Let us take a quick look.
In this millennium, Lee is known as the horror king for playing the “undead” Count Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. As well as for embodying Saruman in the battle for Middle Earth including “The Hobbit” trilogy, and as Count Dooku in the “Star Wars” prequels.
But Lee started out his career in a British TV series titled “Kaleidoscope” in 1946. Then Lee went on to do small parts in both TV and film; he appeared in the short lived British TV series “The Scarlet Pimpernel” in 1956. Then a year later he played the creature in “The Curse of Frankenstein.”
Then Lee became involved in Sherlock Holmes movie projects; he was on both sides: either playing the British detective, or playing a character in them. He was Sir Henry in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in 1959, then he played Mr. Holmes in 1962’s “Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace.” Lee even starred as Holmes’ brother, Mycroft Holmes, in “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” back in 1970.
And during the 1970’s Lee starred as the James Bond villain Scaramanga, opposite Roger Moore, in “The Man with the Golden Gun.”
Only some actors have had the pleasure of playing biographical roles, Lee did several, such as Rasputin in “Rasputin: The Mad Monk,” Prince Philip in 1982’s “Charles & Diana: A Royal Love Story,” and he was Ramses in “Moses,” which starred Ben Kingsley in 1995.
By the 1990s Lee’s presence grew. He starred in “Gremlins 2: The New Batch”; back as Holmes again in “Incident at Victoria Falls”- the final battle between Holmes and Moriarty; playing Tiresias in the TV series “The Odyssey,” and in the Tim Burton directed film “Sleepy Hollow” opposite Johnny Depp.
Lee continued to work again with Depp and Burton in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
By the 2000s, Lee catapulted with roles like Count Dooku in the “Star Wars” prequels: “Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” “Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” and he lent his voice to Dooku in the animated TV series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Lee also starred in the Oscar winning film “The Golden Compass” in 2007.
In other words, Lee has had an acting career that spanned almost 70 years.
Lee won a 2011 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award, an MTV Movie Award for Best Fight Scene in 2003 for “Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” and a 1995 Bram Stoker Award in lifetime achievement for playing Dracula.
The official “Star Wars” is remembering Lee.