105 Facts About Christopher Lee


Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was an English actor and singer.


Christopher Lee was knighted for services to drama and charity in 2009, received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011, and received the BFI Fellowship in 2013.


Christopher Lee credited three films for making his name as an actor, A Tale of Two Cities, in which he played the villainous marquis, and two horror films, The Curse of Frankenstein, and Dracula.


Christopher Lee considered his best performance to be that of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the biopic Jinnah, and his best film to be the British cult film The Wicker Man.


Christopher Lee frequently appeared opposite his friend Peter Cushing in horror films, and late in his career had roles in five Tim Burton films.


Christopher Lee was honoured with the "Spirit of Hammer" award at the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards ceremony.


Christopher Lee was born on 27 May 1922 in Belgravia, London, the son of Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Trollope Christopher Lee of the 60th King's Royal Rifle Corps, and his wife, Countess Estelle Marie.


Christopher Lee's father fought in the Boer War and First World War, and his mother was an Edwardian beauty who was painted by Sir John Lavery, Oswald Birley, and Olive Snell, and sculpted by Clare Sheridan.


Christopher Lee's maternal great-grandfather, Jerome Carandini, the Marquis of Sarzano, was an Italian political refugee; his wife, Christopher Lee's great-grandmother, was English-born opera singer Marie Carandini.


Christopher Lee had an elder sister, Xandra Carandini Lee.


Christopher Lee's parents separated when he was four and divorced two years later.


One night, he was introduced to Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, the assassins of Grigori Rasputin, whom Christopher Lee was to play many years later.


When Christopher Lee was nine, he was sent to Summer Fields School, a preparatory school in Oxford, some of whose pupils later attended Eton.


Christopher Lee's step-father was not prepared to pay the higher fees that being an Oppidan Scholar meant, so instead he attended Wellington College, where he won scholarships in the classics, studying Ancient Greek and Latin.


Christopher Lee was a "passable" racquets player and fencer and a competent cricketer but did not do well at the other sports played: hockey, football, rugby and boxing.


Christopher Lee disliked the parades and weapons training and would always "play dead" as soon as possible during mock battles.


Christopher Lee was frequently beaten at school, including once at Wellington for "being beaten too often," though he accepted them as "logical and therefore acceptable" punishments for knowingly breaking the rules.


Christopher Lee's mother separated from Rose, and Lee had to get a job, his sister already working as a secretary for the Church of England Pensions Board.


Christopher Lee worked as an office clerk for United States Lines, taking care of the mail and running errands.


Christopher Lee returned to work at United States Lines and found his work more satisfying, feeling that he was contributing.


Christopher Lee reported to RAF Uxbridge for training and was then posted to the Initial Training Wing at Paignton.


Training with de Havilland Tiger Moths, Christopher Lee was having his penultimate training session before his first solo flight, when he suffered from headaches and blurred vision.


Christopher Lee was devastated, and the death of a fellow trainee from his former school, Summer Fields, only made him more despondent.


Christopher Lee's appeals were fruitless, and he was left with nothing to do.


Christopher Lee was moved around to different flying stations before being posted to Southern Rhodesia's capital, Salisbury, in December 1941.


Christopher Lee then visited the Mazowe Dam, Marandellas, the Wankie Game Reserve and the ruins of Great Zimbabwe.


Christopher Lee's superiors praised his initiative, and he was seconded into the British South Africa Police and was posted as a warder at Salisbury Prison.


Christopher Lee was then attached to No 205 Group RAF before being commissioned at the end of January 1943, and attached to No 260 Squadron RAF as an intelligence officer.


In November 1944, Christopher Lee was promoted to flight lieutenant and left the squadron in Iesi to take up a posting at Air Force HQ.


Christopher Lee took part in forward planning and liaison, in preparation for a potential assault into the rumoured German Alpine Fortress.


Christopher Lee retired from the RAF in 1946 with the rank of flight lieutenant.


Christopher Lee mentioned that during the war he was attached to special forces, but declined to give details.


Christopher Lee's stepfather served as a captain in the Intelligence Corps, but it is unlikely he had any influence over Christopher Lee's military career.


Christopher Lee finally made his film debut in 1947, in Terence Young's Gothic romance Corridor of Mirrors.


Christopher Lee played Charles; the director got around his height by placing him at a table in a nightclub alongside Lois Maxwell, Mavis Villiers, Hugh Latimer and John Penrose.


Christopher Lee was cast when the director asked him if he could speak Spanish and fence, which he was able to do.


Christopher Lee appeared uncredited in the American epic Quo Vadis, which was shot in Rome, playing a chariot driver and was injured when he was thrown from it at one point during the shoot.


Christopher Lee recalled that his breakthrough came in 1952, when Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.


Christopher Lee had previously appeared with Karloff in 1955 in the "At Night, All Cats are Grey" episode of the British television series Colonel March of Scotland Yard.


Karloff and Christopher Lee were London neighbours for a time in the mid-1960s.


Christopher Lee's Dracula is a force of nature: red-eyed, blood dripping from fangs, often in the grip of rage.


Christopher Lee returned to the role of Dracula in Hammer's Dracula: Prince of Darkness.


Christopher Lee's role has no lines, he merely hisses his way through the film.


Christopher Lee went on record to state that he was virtually "blackmailed" by Hammer into starring in the subsequent films; unable or unwilling to pay him his going rate, they would resort to reminding him of how many people he would put out of work if he did not take part:.


Christopher Lee portrayed Rasputin in Rasputin, the Mad Monk and Sir Henry Baskerville in The Hound of the Baskervilles.


Christopher Lee later played Holmes himself in 1962's Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, and returned to Holmes films with Billy Wilder's British-made The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, in which he plays Sherlock's smarter brother, Mycroft.


Christopher Lee made two films from Wheatley's novels, both starring Lee.


Christopher Lee wanted to break free of his image as Dracula and take on more interesting acting roles.


Christopher Lee met with screenwriter Anthony Shaffer, and they agreed to work together.


Christopher Lee was so keen to get the film made, and the budget was so small, that he gave his services for free.


Christopher Lee later called the film the best he had ever made.


Christopher Lee was a producer of the horror film Nothing But the Night, in which he starred.


Christopher Lee appeared as the Comte de Rochefort in Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers.


Christopher Lee injured his left knee during filming, something he still felt many years later.


Christopher Lee enthusiastically accepted, but by the time Fleming told the producers, they had already chosen Joseph Wiseman for the role.


Christopher Lee finally got to play a James Bond villain in The Man with the Golden Gun, in which he was cast as the assassin Francisco Scaramanga.


Years later, Christopher Lee told Carpenter that the biggest regret of his career was not taking the role of Dr Loomis.


In 1977, Christopher Lee left the UK for the US, concerned at being typecast in horror films, as had happened to his close friends Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.


Meanwhile, Christopher Lee co-starred with Bette Davis in the Disney film Return from Witch Mountain.


Christopher Lee played the mad scientist Dr Catheter in Gremlins 2: The New Batch.


Christopher Lee made his last appearances as Sherlock Holmes in the television films Incident at Victoria Falls and Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady.


Christopher Lee considered his best performance to be in this period, when he played Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the biopic Jinnah.


Christopher Lee played Saruman in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.


Christopher Lee conceded that he was now too old, and that his physical limitations prevented him from being considered.


Christopher Lee made a habit of reading the novels at least once a year.


Christopher Lee did most of the swordplay himself, though a stunt double was required for the long shots with more vigorous footwork.


In 2007, Christopher Lee collaborated with Tim Burton on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, playing the spirit of Sweeney Todd's victims, called the Gentleman Ghost, alongside Anthony Head, with both singing "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd," its reprises and the Epilogue.


Christopher Lee's appearance was completely cut from the film, but Head still had an uncredited one-line cameo.


In late November 2009, Christopher Lee narrated the Science Fiction Festival in Trieste, Italy.


Also in 2009, Christopher Lee starred in Stephen Poliakoff's British period drama Glorious 39, Academy Award-nominated director Danis Tanovic's war film Triage, and Duncan Ward's comedy Boogie Woogie.


In 2004, Christopher Lee lamented that Hollywood scripts were mainly spin-offs, as people were afraid of taking financial risks, commenting that he was mostly being offered spin-offs of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.


Christopher Lee respected Depp as "a fellow survivor", describing him as "inventive and [having] enormous versatility".


In 2010, Christopher Lee received the Steiger Award and, in February 2011, Christopher Lee was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship.


The film was directed by Antti Jokinen, and Christopher Lee gave a "superbly sinister" performance alongside Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.


Christopher Lee appears as the unnamed "Old Gentleman" who acts as Lachlan's mentor in a flashback.


Also in 2011, Christopher Lee appeared in the critically acclaimed Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese.


Christopher Lee reprised the role of Saruman for the prequel film The Hobbit.


Christopher Lee said he would have liked to have shown Saruman's corruption by Sauron, but was too old to travel to New Zealand, so the production was adjusted to allow him to participate from London.


In 2012, Christopher Lee marked his fifth and final collaboration with Tim Burton, by appearing in Burton's film adaptation of the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, in the small role of a New England fishing captain.


Christopher Lee narrated the feature-length documentary Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics, which was released on 25 October 2013.


Christopher Lee appeared in a web exclusive, reading an excerpt from the Sherlock Holmes short story The Final Problem.


Christopher Lee spoke fluent English, Italian, French, Spanish, and German, and was moderately proficient in Swedish, Russian, and Greek.


Christopher Lee was the original voice of Thor in the German dubs of the Danish 1986 animated film Valhalla, and of King Haggard in both the English and German dubs of the 1982 animated adaptation of The Last Unicorn.


Christopher Lee provided all the voices for the English dub of Monsieur Hulot's Holiday.


Christopher Lee voiced Death in the animated versions of Terry Pratchett's Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters, and reprised the role in the Sky1 live action adaptation The Colour of Magic, taking over from the late Ian Richardson.


Christopher Lee reprised his role as Saruman in the video game The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth.


Christopher Lee narrated and sang for the Danish musical group The Tolkien Ensemble's 2003 studio album At Dawn in Rivendell, taking the role of Treebeard, King Theoden and others in the readings or singing of their respective poems or songs.


In 2005, Christopher Lee provided the voice of Pastor Galswells in The Corpse Bride, co-directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson.


Christopher Lee served as the narrator on The Nightmare Before Christmas poem, written by Tim Burton as well.


Christopher Lee reprised his role as Count Dooku in the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars.


Some thirty years after playing Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, Christopher Lee provided the voice of Scaramanga in the video game GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.


In 2013, Christopher Lee voiced The Earl of Earl's Court in the BBC Radio 4 radio play Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.


Christopher Lee recorded special dialogue, in addition to serving as the Narrator, for the Lego The Hobbit video game released in April 2014; at 91 years and 316 days old he appears in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest video game narrator.


Christopher Lee worked with Manowar while they were recording a new version of their first album, Battle Hymns.


In 2019, Rhapsody of Fire included a posthumous narration on their new album, The Eighth Mountain, in which Christopher Lee narrated the concept story of the band's Nephilim Empire Saga.


Christopher Lee's father, Count Fritz von Rosen, proved demanding, getting them to delay the wedding for a year, asking his London-based friends to interview Lee, hiring private detectives to investigate him, and asking Lee to provide him with references, which Lee obtained from Douglas Fairbanks Jr.


Christopher Lee had met him some years before while filming Tales of Hans Anderson, where he received his blessing.


Christopher Lee was the uncle of the British actress Harriet Walter.


Christopher Lee described Michael Howard as "the ideal person to lead the party" in 2003, and supported William Hague and David Cameron.


Christopher Lee had an interest in the occult, to which he was introduced by Dennis Wheatley.


Christopher Lee died at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on 7 June 2015 after being admitted for respiratory problems and heart failure, shortly after celebrating his 93rd birthday.


Christopher Lee was the subject of the BBC's This Is Your Life in 1974, where he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews.


In 2010, Christopher Lee received the Spirit of Hammer award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, for his contribution to the metal genre.


In 2011, Christopher Lee was awarded a BAFTA Fellowship; he received a BFI Fellowship in 2013.


Note: Christopher Lee was 'ghost-editor' on the above series, which was edited by the anthologist Michel Parry.