Reports today confirm Sir Christopher Lee died on Sunday morning at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London after being hospitalized for respiratory problems and heart failure. The announcement was withheld from the public until all of Lee”s family members and friends had been informed.
Whether you were first introduced to Sir Christopher Lee in his iconic role as Dracula, as Bond villain Scaramanga or – for later generations – as Doctor Catheter in “Gremlins 2,” Saruman in “Lord of the Rings,” or Count Dooku in “Star Wars,” Lee left an indelible mark on the cinema landscape with his penchant for playing the macabre and the deliciously evil.
Born in 1922, Lee began his film career in 1947 with the gothic romance flick “Corridor of Mirrors” and never looked back. His big break came with his turn as The Creature in “The Curse of Frankenstein”s Monster” in 1957. But it would be “Horror of Dracula” the following year – with Lee as the titular vampire – that would propel his career forward for the next 20 years.
For nearly seven decades, nothing tempered Lee”s drive, not even open heart surgery in 1990. After recovering Lee – then 71 – appeared in a dozen films within 14 months, including his introduction to a whole new generation in “Gremlins 2.”
But a film legacy of 68 years was merely the beginning. Lee was also an accomplished heavy metal musician. After dabbling for years he released his first full-length album “Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross” in 2010. The album was well-received and Lee even won the ‘Spirit of Metal” award at the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden Gods ceremony.
Three years later, his heavy metal Christmas single “Jingle Hell” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at 22 and climbed to 18, making Christopher Lee the oldest living artist to ever enter the charts. He was 91.
Having never hung up his acting hat, Lee will have one more movie to be released posthumously. In “Angels in Notting Hill,” he plays is a god-like figure named “The Boss, Mr. President” who presides over the universe.
Christopher Lee is survived by his wife Birgit, whom in married in 1961, and their daughter Christina.