R.I.P Christopher Lee: The Screen’s Most Prolific Star
This week, fans around the world said goodbye to the most prolific movie actor of any generation, Sir Christopher Lee, who died last Sunday at the age of 93.
Christopher Lee became recognized in 2007 by Guinness Book of World Records for most screen credits, which at the time stood at 244 before Lee acted in another 34 projects to bring his total to an astounding 278.
Lee’s is a tale of many stories with at least two of them existing in film. Lee began his on-screen career in 1946 on the television series Kaleidoscope before landing his first film role as Charles in the 1948 feature Corridor of Mirrors. In the ensuing decade, Christopher Lee would amass a bounty of roles bouncing between television and movies before landing his breakout role as Count Dracula in the 1958 feature Horror of Dracula. The following year, Lee would cement his status as a horror film icon when he was cast in the leading role of the horror classic The Mummy.
Lee, ever prolific, continued working steadily when 1962 brought him the lead in the film Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace. Lee continued to excel within the classic horror genre reprising his role of Dracula in the 1966 feature Dracula: Prince of Darkness. Lee would reprise the role throughout several films in the 1970’s.
Lee would continue working steadily albeit in smaller roles and guest spots in short lived television series, mini series, and B-movies until 2001 when Lee was cast in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings as Saruman, a character Lee would reprise throughout the entire Lord of the Rings film franchise, including video games and shorts, as well as two of the ensuing The Hobbit films. A year later, Lee again solidified the resurrection of his career and established himself firmly as a pop culture icon in a completely separate generation than before when he was cast as Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Lee would reprise the role in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, as well as the animated Clone Wars series and ancillary video game.
Christopher Lee became Sir Christopher Lee in 2009 when he was knighted by Prince Charles. Lee served in the military in World War II and fought against the nazis in Winston Churchill’s secret service regiment. Lee spoke six languages and was a world class fencer and an opera singer.
Opera would not be Lee’s only, or even his most well known, foray into music. At the age of 88-years-old, Lee, a noted heavy metal music fan, released his first death metal album in 2010 entitled, Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross. The album won the “Spirit of Metal” award at the 2010 Golden Gods awards ceremony and spawned a follow up album, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death, released in 2013.
Sir Christopher Lee left this world at the age of 93, but the adventure and creativity and spirit and passion he filled those 93 years with is enough to fill 10 lifetimes. Sir Christopher Lee touched the lives and hearts of a countless many, and his inspiration and work will endure for lifetimes to come.