Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
He should not be confused with Christopher Lee, historian.
Lee became famous for his role as Count Dracula in a string of Hammer Horror films. He is viewed by many as the quintessential film villain. Other notable films include The Wicker Man and The Man with the Golden Gun. Lee is now over 80 years old, and still appearing in films such as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
He was educated at Eton and Wellington College, where he won scholarships in classics. He volunteered to fight for the Finnish forces during the Winter War against the Soviet Union in 1939, then served in the Royal Air Force and intelligence during World War II.
Career as an actor
He made his film debut in Terence Young's Gothic Romance, Corridor of Mirrors, in 1948. Throughout the next decade, Lee made nearly 30 films, playing mostly stock action characters. His first film for Hammer, made in 1957 with Peter Cushing, was Curse of Frankenstein , in which he played, "The Creature". That led to his first Dracula film, Horror of Dracula, in 1958. From then on, Lee was periodically featured in numerous horror roles for various studios.
As an indication to his profligacy and longevity, Lee has, according to the Oracle of Bacon at Virginia, an average Bacon number of 2.684104 (as of December 2003), making him second on the list of most suitable centres of the Hollywood universe. This calculation uses a modification of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game.
Lee is a direct lineal descendent of Charlemagne through his mother's side, a famous Edwardian beauty, the Contessa Estelle Marie Carandini di Sarzano. She was painted by Sir John Lavery, as well as Oswald Birley, Olive Snell and sculpted by Clare Sheridan, a cousin of Winston Churchill.
The Carandini family was given the the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Cinemareview cites: "Cardinal Consalvi was Papal Secretary of State at the time of Napoleon and is buried at the Pantheon in Rome next to the painter Raphael. His painting, by Lawrence hangs in Windsor Castle." A further note cites: "A cousin of Christopher Lee was Niccolo Carandini the first Italian ambassador to Britain after World War II and subsequently was President of Alitalia."
Such depth of family skill and knowledge has given Lee the ability to perform a wide variety of roles with great facility.
Author Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, is Lee's cousin and wanted him to play the first James Bond film villain, Dr. Julius No. Lee would eventually play another Bond villain, Francisco Scaramanga, in The Man with the Golden Gun.
Lee was a natural choice for the Lord of the Rings movies, where he plays the role of Saruman, as he makes it a habit of reading the novel at least once a year. Lee will reprise his Star Wars role as Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Lee served in the military during World War II, where he acquired the knowledge of the noise a person makes when stabbed in the back. He put this to use when filming The Lord of the Rings, as can be seen on the Extended Edition DVD of The Return of the King.
Lee's great-grandparents formed Australia's first opera company, performing before miners in towns in the outback.
Books by Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee's Treasury of Terror, Pyramid Publications, 1966
Christopher Lee's New Chamber of Horrors, Souvenir Press, 1974
Christopher Lee's Archives of Terror, Warner Books, Volume I, 1975, Volume 2, 1976
Tall, Dark and Gruesome (autobiography), W. H. Allen, 1977 and 1999
- The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
- Dracula (1958)
- The Mummy (1959)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
- The Face of Fu Manchu (1965)
- Dr Terror's House of Horrors (1965)
- Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966)
- The Devil Rides Out (1968)
- Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
- The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
- Death Line (1973)
- The Wicker Man (1973)
- The Three Musketeers (The Queen's Diamonds) (1973)
- The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
- To the Devil...a Daughter (1976)
- 1941 (1979)
- Sleepy Hollow (1999)
- Jinnah (2000)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
- The Official Christopher Lee Web
- Concerning his role in The Lord of the Rings movies
- Vampire site w/ Lee bio and filmography
- Sherlock Holmes and Christopher Lee
- Christopher Lee and The Man with the Golden Gun
- Guardian Unlimited Profile
- TV Tome bio, film/tv credits, trivia
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