Legendary actor Sir Christopher Lee, best known to modern audiences for his role as Saruman in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings film trilogies, died on Sunday in a London hospital after suffering from respiratory problems and heart failure, according to The Guardian. He was 93. Danish former model Birgit Kroencke Lee, his wife of over 50 years, reportedly delayed releasing the news until today so that family could be notified first.
Born in London on May 27, 1922, the veteran screen legend made his film debut in 1947 in Terence Young’s Corridor of Mirrors, but it was a decade later that he’d take on memorable roles in the famed horror films from Hammer, namely as Bram Stoker’s iconic literary figure Dracula. He went on to appear in 1973’s The Wicker Man and The Three Musketeers; in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun as a James Bond villain (his step-cousin was Bond author Ian Fleming), and over 200 more films, including the aforementioned Peter Jackson saga and two of George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels.
In 2009, Lee, who was of English and Italian descent, was knighted for services to drama and charity. He attended Wellington College and in 1939 he volunteered to fight for the Finnish forces during the Winter War. Along with film acting, which included roles in Tim Burton’s repertoire, Lee has several TV and voice work to his credit, and later in life he made a name for himself in the heavy metal community with several albums released. In 2010, he won the “Spirit of Metal” award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods awards.
Lee’s last on-screen film appearance was in 2014’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, but he’ll next be seen in this year’s Angels in Notting Hill. He had also been cast in a role in the 9/11 drama The 11th starring Uma Thurman, which is scheduled to begin shooting this Fall.
The iconic actor had been treated at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for respiratory problems and heart failure for three weeks prior to his death and had spent his 93rd birthday in May at the hospital.
The actor’s passing is a great loss to the entertainment world. He will truly be missed, but leaves behind a massive body of work and iconic portrayals. We’ll have more commentary on Lee’s lengthy career in the days to come.
RIP Christopher Lee
May 27, 1922 – June 7, 2015
[Source: The Guardian | The Independent]