Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Icons of Horror: Christopher Lee

Sir Christopher Lee has appeared in over 260 films since 1948. Lee's maternal ancestors, were given the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. He is a step-cousin of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels. He is also a veteran of WWII. Lee was close personal friends with his frequent co-star, the late Peter Cushing

His vast body of work within the horror film genre includes The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula (released in the U.S.A. as Horror of Dracula), Corridors of Blood, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Man Who Could Cheat Death, The Mummy, The City of the Dead (released in the U.S.A. as Horror Hotel), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Hands of Orlac, The Terror of the Tongs, Taste of Fear, The Gorgon, Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, She, The Skull, Ten Little Indians (voice only), The Face of Fu Manchu, Theatre of Death, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Rasputin: The Mad Monk, Circus of Fear, The Brides of Fu Manchu, The Vengeance of Fu Manchu, Curse of the Crimson Altar, The Devil Rides Out, The Blood of Fu Manchu, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, The Castle of Fu Manchu, The Oblong Box, The Magic Christian (cameo as Count Dracula), Scream and Scream again, Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Scars of Dracula, The House That Dripped Blood, I Monster, Dracula A.D. 1972, The Creeping Flesh, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Horror Express, The Wicker Man, To the Devil A Daughter and House of the Long Shadows.

Perhaps due to his extensive resume of horror roles, Christopher Lee has a longstanding personal interest in the occult, maintaining a library of over 12,000 books which is largely devoted to the topic. This is discussed in his 1999 autobiography, Tall, Dark and Gruesome. At 6' 5" he is one of the tallest leading actors.

Although Lee is known to suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (which is one reason why his hands are rarely photographed today), at an age [87] when most performers would have already scaled back their work, Lee has virtually reinvigorated his career in the 21st century, posting featured roles in many top box office blockbusters including Sleepy Hollow (cameo), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring & The Two Towers & The Return of the King, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones & Revenge of the Sith, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, The Golden Compass, Alice in Wonderland and he provides voice work for the popular Cartoon Network animated series The Clone Wars (reprising his role as Count Dooku from the Star Wars films). Illustration (above; top) by Harry Akalestos.


joe ackerman said...

my favourite roll of Lee's was as Flay in the BBC television adaption of Gomenghast. the whole thing is wonderfully cast, anyway, but Lee in the role is a stroke of casting perfection. I take it by Alice in Wonderland, you mean the new one, do you? he's in that, too, is he?

Chuck Wells said...

You betcha. The Burton/Depp version is what I meant. Looking forward to seeing that too.