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Iconic actor and multiple award winner Christopher Lee died on Sunday in a hospital in London, according to sources close to his family. Lee was 93.
The Telegraph UK reports that Lee had been "treated there for respiratory problems and heart failure over the preceding three weeks," and notes that the actor turned 93 while in the hospital. His birthday was May 27. The paper reports that Lee’s wife chose to delay the public announcement until close family had been informed of the actor’s passing. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
There’s no film genre Christopher Lee didn’t conquer, and to try and associate him with just one would be to shortchange all that he accomplished over the course of his illustrious career. Depending on when you went to the movies most often might determine how you remember Lee on screen. For many, he is a staple of the horror scene, having played Count Dracula (in 1958), the Mummy (1959), Sherlock Holmes (1962) and Fu Manchu in a series of films.
While Christopher Lee proudly operated in the horror genre for decades, it wasn’t the only place he made his mark. In the 1970s, he played various roles in Three Musketeers films and James Bond sequels. 007 enthusiasts will remember Lee as Scaramanga in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun, teaching the trained agent that women in bikinis have no place to conceal weapons.
Lee worked steadily in film and on stage in the 1980s and ‘90s, though he didn’t have a massive hit (outside of Gremlins II: The New Batch and the occasional Tim Burton movie) until Peter Jackson cast the legendary thespian as Saruman in 2001’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Their partnership extended through the Hobbit trilogy that Jackson moved on to after putting the LOTR series to bed. It was at this time, also, that George Lucas tapped Lee to play Count Dooku in his prequel trilogy, giving Lee two massive franchise gigs in the twilight of his incredible career.
But any conversation about Christopher Lee has to extend behind the silver screen, as the actor published books, recorded heavy metal albums, served his country in World War II and was knighted by Prince Charles in 2009. We lost a legend today, and the void he leaves will not easily be filled.