Thursday, June 11, 2015

From Shakespeare To Saruman

Legendary actor Christopher Lee has passed away at the age of 93 on Sunday after a nearly seventy year career.  Best known to my generation as Saruman the White from the Lord of the Rings movies, Lee started out as the heart and soul of the now famous Hammer Studios horror films.

Sir Christopher Lee has died at the age of 93 after being hospitalised for respiratory problems and heart failure.

The veteran actor, best known for a variety of films from Dracula to The Wicker Man through to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, passed away on Sunday morning at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, according to sources.

The decision to release the news days after was based on his wife’s desire to inform family members first. The couple had been married for over 50 years.

As well as his career in film, Lee also released a series of heavy metal albums, including Charlemagne: The Omens of Death. He was knighted in 2009 for services to drama and charity and was awarded the Bafta fellowship in 2011.

His film career started in 1947 with a role in gothic romance Corridor of Mirrors but it wasn’t until the late 50s, when Lee worked with Hammer, that he started gaining fame. His first role with the studio was The Curse of Frankenstein and it was the first of 20 films that he made with Peter Cushing, who also became a close friend. “Hammer was an important part of my life, and generally speaking, we all had a lot of fun,” he said in a 2001 interview.

Lee had no problem poking fun at his status as a schlock movie icon either, as his turn as wacky mad scientist Doctor Catheter in the 1990 film Gremlins 2 attests.

But prolific doesn't even begin to describe his many roles, from Dracula to Space 1999's Captain Zandor (no relation) to Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun to Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels to all kids of voice work in games like the Kingdom Hearts series and more.

And that's not counting his massive stage presence, his service in WW II or his career as an opera and heavy metal singer.

He did it all folks, and he was amazing at it.  We'll not see his like again.

1 comment:

Scopedog said...

Sir Christopher was a true legend--but honestly, the word "legend" seems to be too small a word to describe his amazing career. An actor who had fans ranging from six years old to ninety years old? An actor who was still performing well into his late eighties and early nineties? The only actor in the recent LOTR films who had actually met the author J.R.R. Tolkien?

With his passing, an era has ended. You are right--we will never see his like again.

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