RIP Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

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Sir Christopher Lee has passed away at the age of 93. Lee died in the hospital on Sunday, June 7th, though word of his passing has only reached news outlets today. According to several reports, this was at the request of Lee’s wife of more than 50 years Birgit Krøncke, who wished to inform family first before making the information public.

Lee was one of the iconic figures of the big screen, marked by his commanding physical presence and that mellifluously sonorous voice. His breakthrough as an actor came thanks to Hammer Studios in the late 1950s, particularly his title role in Dracula (1958), which co-starred close friend and fellow horror icon Peter Cushing. (I’m reminded that Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing used to crack each other up by impersonating Sylvester the Cat. If anyone in the world has an audio recording of this, please release it.) To this day, Lee’s portrayal of Dracula is right up there with Bela Lugosi’s in the cultural memory.

Lee would continue to distinguish himself over the years, starring in one of the greatest UK horror films of all time The Wicker Man (1973), Roger Moore’s second James Bond outing The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), and given countless other roles by filmmakers who grew up loving his work with Hammer Studios.

Lee experienced a late career resurgence in the 21st century thanks to his roles in the Star Wars prequels and the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films. In 2010, Lee released a metal album called Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross because he really was that awesome. He also put out a series of heavy metal covers of beloved Christmas songs because, again, Christopher Lee really was that awesome.

That’s the big takeaway in all this. Christopher Lee was one of the coolest actors ever, beloved by so many filmmakers who grew up watching him, and by people who are just discovering him today. He’s left so much good work behind that’s worth celebrating and revisiting, and he’ll be sorely missed.

[via The Telegraph, The Guardian]

 

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Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.