Birth Place: Belgravia, London, England, UK
Christopher Lee was born on May 27, 1922 in Belgravia, London, England, UK and his full name is Christopher Frank Carandini Lee. His father (1879-1941), was Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Trollope Lee of the 60th King's Royal Rifle Corps. His father fought in the Boer War and the First World War. His father died of double pneumonia on March 12, 1941. His mother, Contessa Estelle Marie and was an Edwardian beauty. She was painted by Sir John Lavery, Oswald Birley and Olive Snell. Clare Frewen Sheridan sculpted her. He has one sister, Xandra Carandini Lee, who was born in 1917. Christopher’s great-grandmother, Marie Carandini was an opera singer, and his great-grandfather was an Italian political refugee.
Christopher played his first role as Rumpelstiltskin at Miss Fisher's Academy in Territet after his parents divorced and his mother moved him and his sister to Wengen in Switzerland. His mother later returned to London and married a banker Harcourt George St-Croix Rose. His stepfather is Ian Fleming (author of the James Bond novels) uncle which makes Christopher and Ian step cousins. Christopher attended Wagner's private school in Queen's Gate upon returning to London.
He is a singer and English actor who mostly plays villains, Dracula and vampires. He is 6' 5" (1.96 m), and his nickname is Chris. He has acted in over 280 films. He was discriminated at first for wanting to becoming an actor because he was taller than other actors and looked too much like a foreigner. Hammer Films loved him for The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) which lead him to being recognized and accepted in the acting society. He speaks French, German, Italian, Spanish and can communicate with others in Greek, Russian and Swedish. Some of his hobbies are travel, opera and golf.
He is best known for playing Count Dracula in Hammer Horror movies, Francisco Scaramanga in James Bond - The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy from 2001–2003, The Hobbit trilogy from 2012–2014, and Count Dooku in Star Wars prequel trilogy in 2002 and 2005. Christopher thinks his best acting is in Jinnah (1998) as Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He thinks his movie of all time is a British horror movie in 1973, The Wicker Man.
Christopher is the only actor who has played Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft. He played King Charles the First of England and King Louis, the Sixteenth of France. He holds the World record for the most sword fights than any other actors in history. Christopher did all of his own stunts and is a member of three Stuntmen's Unions.
Some important events in Christopher Lee's life:
1936 -1939 - attended Wellington College and worked as an office clerk in a few of Londons Shipping companies after finishing college. He ranked top at squash, racquets and fencing, and did really good at cricket, rugby, football, and hockey.
1939 - He volunteered to fight for the Finnish Army during the Winter War.
1940 - British Home Guard
1941 -1946 - Royal Air Force
Rank - Flight Lieutenant
Wars - Winter War, World War II (North African Campaign, Allied invasion of Italy, Battle of Monte Cassino)
1947 - joined the Rank Organisation to train as an actor
1948 - Corridor of Mirrors, brief appearance in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet
1952 - Moulin Rouge
1957 - Hammer Film Productions - The Curse of Frankenstein started his road to stardom
1958 - Hammer Film Productions - Horror of Dracula
1959 - Hammer Film Productions - The Mummy
1959 - Hammer Film Productions - The Hound of the Baskervilles
1961 - married Danish model and painter Birgit Krøncke (Gitte Lee) on March 17, 1961. She modelled for Balenciaga, Balmain, Chanel and Christian Dior before she married Christopher.
1963 - His daughter Christina Erika Lee was born on November 23, 1963. She was born with severely deformed legs that was bent at an angle that made it almost backwards. Erika wore splints until she was about two years old and eventually learned how to walk without the splints after age three.
1972 - Has his own production company - Charlemagne Productions, Ltd
1973 - Nothing But the Night
1976 - To the Devil a Daughter
1886 - 1998 - He recorded different kinds of opera and musical pieces
2001 - awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his contribution to the films and television industries.
2005 - started to work with several metal bands
2009 - awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire for his services to drama and charity.
2010 - recorded a symphonic metal album - Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross
2010 - honoured with "Spirit of Metal" award in the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden God awards ceremony.
2013 - released Charlemagne: The Omens of Death which is a followup to his 2010 album
2011 - received the BAFTA Fellowship
2013 - received the BFI Fellowship
Some of his Quotes
“ I don't want to sound gloomy, but, at some point of your lives, every one of you will notice that you have in your life one person, one friend whom you love and care for very much. That person is so close to you that you are able to share some things only with him. For example, you can call that friend, and from the very first maniacal laugh or some other joke you will know who is at the other end of that line. We used to do that with him so often. And then when that person is gone, there will be nothing like that in your life ever again“
“I've seen many men die right in front of me - so many in fact that I've become almost hardened to it. Having seen the worst that human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise, we would never have won“
“There are many vampires in the world today - you only have to think of the film business“
“I stopped appearing as Dracula in 1972 because in my opinion the presentation of the character had deteriorated to such an extent, particularly bringing him into the contemporary day and age, that it really no longer had any meaning“
“I think that - apart from the fields of science and medicine - we live in an age of decline. Look at the world. There is decline in morals, ideals, manners, respect, truthfulness: just about everything, in fact”
“Some of the films I've been in I regret making. I got conned into making these pictures in almost every case by people who lied to me. Some years ago, I got a call from my producers saying that they were sending me a script and that five very distinguished American actors were also going to be in the film. Actors like José Ferrer, Dean Jagger and John Carradine. So I thought, "Well, that's alright by me." But it turned out it was a complete lie. Appropriately, the film was called End of the World (1977)“
“I've always acknowledged my debt to Hammer. I've always said I'm very grateful to them. They gave me this great opportunity, made me a well-known face all over the world for which I am profoundly grateful“
“I would rather have been an opera singer than anything else”
“I stopped appearing as Dracula in 1972 because in my opinion the presentation of the character had deteriorated to such an extent, particularly bringing him into the contemporary day and age, that it really no longer had any meaning”“
“In my opinion--and I think I know as much if not more about Bond than anyone, particularly about the characters on whom [Ian Fleming] told me Bond was based--Pierce Brosnan was by far the best and closest to the character“
“Acting is like a snowstorm or perhaps a large empty vacuum. I'm not deluded by the fact that I'm getting all these offers for work, I'm very happy about it, but I know also that there is the other side and who knows, next year, they may not offer me anything. You never know“
“I prefer to watch the old movies. The film stars of today, in my opinion, don't compare with their predecessors. The best are very good, but the last giant of cinema, I think, was Bette Davis. One actor I admire, who could become a giant, is Johnny Depp. He has elements that other actors don't possess”
“When you're involved in a war it's the old saying "If your name's written on the bullet, there's nothing you can do about it." So you just banished it from your mind. Of course I was scared on some occasions and anyone who says they aren't scared during an operation probably isn't telling the truth. I know about six people who had no fear. Literally none. Whether that was due to a lack of imagination or because they'd conquered it, I don't know. In fact, one was Iain Duncan Smith's father, who was one of my closest friends. But during a war, people are taught to kill and they have the blessings of the authorities to do so, so if it's your life or somebody else's, you want to be quite sure it's not yours.“
“I think acting is a mixture of instinct, imagination and inventiveness. All you can learn as an actor is basic technique”
“A real actor has to have an awful lot of imagination, and I do have a great deal”
”You can never be a proper actor without good instincts”
Christopher Lee Biographies
Author: Christopher Lee.
Title: Tall, Dark and Gruesome: An Autobiography.
Publisher: London, England: W.H. Allen,
Author: Robert Pohle, Douglas Hart, Christopher Lee
Title: The Films of Christopher Lee.
Publisher: Metuchen, NJ: 1984.,
Author: Mark A. Miller.
Title: Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and Horror Cinema: A Filmography of their 22 Collaborations
Publisher: Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., Inc.,
Author: Jonathan Rigby
Title: Christopher Lee: The Authorised Screen History
Publisher: London: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd.
Author: Tom Johnson and Mark A. Miller.
Title: The Christopher Lee Filmography: All Theatrical Releases, 1948-2003.
Publisher: Jefferson, NC: McFarland
1996 - The Many Faces of Christopher Lee
2002 - Actor's Notebook: Christopher Lee
2002 - Christopher Lee: Mr. Holmes, Mr. Wilder
2003 - Christopher Lee: A Life in Films
1971, August - Films Illustrated (UK)
1983, May - Starlog (USA), Vol. 6, Iss. 70, pg. 21-24 - By: Ed Naha, "Christopher Lee: He's Lip-Smacking Bad!"
1985, September - Films and Filming (UK), Iss. 372, pg. 29-31 - By: David Del Valle, "Tall, Dark & Gruesome: Interview with Christopher Lee"
1990, July - Fangoria (USA), Iss. 94, pg. 40-43 - By: Bill Warren, "The Curse of Christopher Lee"
1990, September - Starlog (USA), Iss. 158 - By: Bill Warren, "Legends of the Sinister"
1996, March - Fangoria (USA), Iss. 150, pg. 70-74 - By: Bill Warren, "Splendid-Lee"
2001, October 28 - Vimagazino (Greece), Iss. 55, pg. 20-26 - By: Thanassis Lalas, "O Christopher Lee milaei sto Thanassi Lala"
2002 - Scarlet Street (USA), Iss. 44, pg. 49+69 - By: compiled by Richard Valley, "The Many Faces of Christopher Lee: Interviews from the pages of 'Scarlet Street'"
2002 June - Scarlet Street (USA), Iss. 45, pg. 48 - 50 + 73 - By: David Del Valle, "The Return of the Horror King: Christopher Lee"
2002 December - Dreamwatch (UK), Iss. 99, pg. 69 - By: David Bassom, "Dark Knight"
2003, November 23 - The Independent (UK) - By: Christopher Lee, "Christopher Lee: You Ask The Questions"
2005, June - Empire (UK), pg. 97 - By: Steve O'Hagan, "Count Dooku - Christopher Lee"
Cover photo on Magazines
1990, September - Starlog (USA), Iss. 158
1998, November - Video Watchdog (USA), Iss. 48
2000 - Monsters From the Vault (USA), Vol. 5, Iss. 11
2001, December 15 - AD Magazine (Netherlands)
2002 December - American Cinematographer (USA), Vol. 83, Iss. 12
2002 - Scarlet Street (USA), Iss. 44
1998 - Christopher Lee Sings Devils, Rogues & Other Villains
2006 - Revelation
2010 - Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross
2013 - Charlemagne: The Omens of Death