Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
After being hospitalized for respiratory problems and heart failure, Sir Christopher Lee has died at age 93. Lee passed away Sunday morning; however, The Guardian reports, Lee’s wife waited to inform the public until she let his family know.
After a stint in World War II, Lee made his film debut in the Gothic romance Corridor of Mirrors in 1947. His big break would come ten years later, when he played Frankenstein’s monster in The Curse of Frankenstein for Hammer Pictures. This role was the start of a long and very fruitful relationship between Lee and Hammer, which included, most notably, his famed turns as Dracula, whom he played over ten times, in films like Horror of Dracula, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, and Dracula Has Risen From the Grave. Outside of horror, Lee had major roles in 1973’s The Wicker Man and as James Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in 1974’s The Man With the Golden Gun.
Later in life, Lee had a major career resurgence in big blockbusters, appearing in a few Tim Burton movies, playing Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode II and III, and, of course, playing Saruman in the Lord of the Rings series. Also, later in life, Lee put his big bass voice to use, recording very heavy metal music, eventually releasing two solo full-lengths, 2010’s Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross and 2013’s Charlemagne: The Omens of Death.
Lee is survived by his wife of 50 years, Birgit Kroencke Lee, and their daughter Christina Erika Lee.