Christopher Lee Dead: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Christopher Lee, Christopher Lee Dead

Actor Christopher Lee in 2013. (Getty)

Sir Christopher Lee, the legendary British actor and musician known for his roles in Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and a series of Dracula movies, has died at the age of 93.

The Guardian reports that Lee had been hospitalized for respiratory and health problems, and died Sunday. His family delayed the announcement of his death so that family members could be informed first.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. He Served in the Royal Air Force During World War II

Christopher Lee, Christopher Lee dead

Christopher Lee in 1948. (Getty)

Christopher Lee was born in London on May 27, 1922, according to the biography on his official website. His father was a British army officer and his mother was an Edwarian beauty of Italian descent.

He attended Summer Fields preparatory school and went on to Eton College and Wellington College, studying Greek and Latin.

He worked as an office boy and messenger in London after leaving school, and then served for five years in the Royal Air Force during World War II, earning the rank of flight lieutenant and honors for distinguished service. He served as an intelligence officer in North Africa and Italy, because of his poor eyesight, according to the Associated Press.

While at college, he was an athlete who held a top ranking in squash, racquets and fencing, and also played cricket, rugby, football and hockey. He enjoyed playing golf until late in his life, and his website says he shared the course with “virtually all the great golfers of modern times, from James Braid to Jack Nicklaus.”

Lee was fluent in French, Italian, Spanish and German, and also could speak some Swedish, Russian and Greek.

2. After the War, Lee Began an Acting Career That Would Span 7 Decades

A screenshot from the trailer for the 1958 film Dracula,  an Hammer Horror production. (Internet Archive)

A screenshot from the trailer for the 1958 film Dracula, an Hammer Horror production. (Internet Archive)

Christopher Lee began his acting career in 1947, according to IMDB. He first rose to popularity with a series of Hammer horror movies in which he played characters including Frankenstein and Dracula.

“Lee was the most disturbingly believable embodiment of Count Dracula with a chilling screen presence that has never been rivalled,” Professor Steve Chibnall, director of the Cinema And Television History Research Centre at Academics at De Montfort University in Leicester told The Telegraph. “Vampires live beyond death and the collective memory of Lee’s portrayal of Dracula will be immortal.”

He acted in more than 250 films and his career continued until just before his death. Two movies he performed in have yet to be released.

“It seems that now, I am known to every generation, from about 6 to 106,” Lee said in 2009. “And after all, that’s what it’s all about: survival.”

Horror of Dracula Official Trailer #1 – Christopher Lee Movie (1958) HDSubscribe to CLASSIC TRAILERS: Subscribe to TRAILERS: Subscribe to COMING SOON: Like us on FACEBOOK: Follow us on TWITTER: Horror of Dracula Official Trailer #1 – Christopher Lee Movie (1958) HD Horror of Dracula Trailer – Directed by Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, John Van…2012-01-10T07:34:49Z

Lee became known in recent years for portraying Sarumon in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and in the Hobbit movies. He also played Count Dooku in two Star Wars prequels.

Known most for his acting in horror movies and as a villain, Lee said he felt like his comedic skills were under appreciated, and one of his greatest regrets was turning down the role in Airplane that went to Leslie Nielsen, according to the Associated Press.

“A lot of people, including the casting directors, have no idea that when I lived in America half of the films I did were comedies,” he told the AP in 2006. “They have no idea that I hosted ‘Saturday Night Live.’ They don’t seem to be interested.”

3. He Was Knighted in 2009 & Has Received Several Other Accolades

Christopher Lee in 2012. (Getty)

Christopher Lee in 2012. (Getty)

Lee was knighted in 2009 by Prince Charles. He has received numerous other awards and titles, including Commander Brother of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.

He was knighted for service to drama and charity.

Lee also received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011 and the BFI Fellowship in 2013.

“I think there was a newspaper this morning that said I was probably going to cry, something I don’t very often do, in films, at any rate. But it is a very emotional moment for me,” Lee said during his BAFTA acceptance speech. “I am thankful that I don’t follow in the steps of the great Stanley Kubrick, whose award was posthumous. And I would like to say that this is without a doubt the finest image I’ve ever had.”

4. He Was Also a Heavy Metal Musician

Christopher Lee: "The Bloody Verdict of Verden" Music VideoMusic video of the song "The Bloody Verdict of Verden", aka "The Blood of the Saxon Men" belonging to the album "Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross" (2010) Symphonic metal version.. By Sir Christopher Lee.2012-06-08T22:40:37Z

Lee was also a heavy metal musician, in addition to his acting career. He released an album, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death, in 2013 as the follow-up to Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, released in 2010.

“The first Charlemagne album is metal, of course, but what I sang was more symphonic,” Lee told The Guardian in 2013. “Now on the second one, The Omens of Death, it is 100 percent heavy metal. I’ve done my bits and pieces, and they are heavy metal. I’m not screaming or anything like that, but it is definitely heavy metal.”

Last Christmas, at the age of 92, he released “Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing.” His single “Jingle Hell” charted at No. 18 on Billboard during Christmas 2013, earning him the honor of being the oldest musician to ever chart on Billboard.

5. He Is Survived by His Wife & Daughter

Christopher Lee with his wife, Birgit. (Getty)

Christopher Lee with his wife, Birgit. (Getty)

Lee is survived by his wife, Danish model and painter Birgit Kroencke, who he married in 1961, and their daughter, Christina.

“The secret to a long marriage in the film industry? Marry someone wonderful, as I did. And always have her come along on location,” told The Telegraph in 2011.

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