British 'Dracula' actor Christopher Lee dies at 93

Lee was known for his roles in the 1958 version of Dracula and as wizard Saruman in Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    Lee played the titled-role in a 1958 version of Dracula and the wizard Saruman in the Lord of the Rings movies [EPA]
    Lee played the titled-role in a 1958 version of Dracula and the wizard Saruman in the Lord of the Rings movies [EPA]

    The British actor Christopher Lee, perhaps best known for his roles as Dracula and the renegade wizard Saruman in the Lord of the Rings trilogy has died aged 93.

    The actor, who spent much of his more than 50-year career playing antagonists, died in hospital on Sunday after undergoing treatment for respiratory problems, UK media reports said.

    An official for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London on Thursday confirmed a death certificate was issued for Lee on June 8, the Associated Press news agency reported. She spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with the policies of the borough.

    Lee appeared in more than 250 movies, including playing the James Bond nemesis, Scaramanga, better known as 'The Man with the Golden Gun'. 

    Though normally cast as a villain, Lee said the most important part he played was portraying the leader of the Pakistan-independence struggle, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in a film that was never released to Western audiences.

    "Somewhere, somehow, someone, decided they didn't want this shown in the theatres in the rest of the world because of what Jinnah said ... he said you are all free to worship as you please in Pakistan ... a true democracy, some people in Pakistan didn't favour that," Lee said at an event at the University College Dublin in 2011.

    Born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee in London on May 27, 1922, his father was a British army officer who had served in the Boer War. His mother was Contessa Estelle Marie Carandini di Sarzano, an Edwardian socialite of Italian descent. His parents separated when he was young, and his mother later remarried Harcourt Rose, the uncle of James Bond creator Ian Fleming.

    In 1957, Lee launched his horror career, starring as the monster in Hammer's "The Curse of Frankenstein."

    In 1958 Lee made his first appearance as the famous vampire in "Dracula," opposite Peter Cushing's Van Helsing.

    He railed against the typecasting, however, and ultimately the sheer number and range of his roles, from Sherlock Holmes to Jinnah, secured his place in film history.

    "I didn't have dreams of being a romantic leading man," Lee said in 2002. "But I dreamed of being a character actor, which I am."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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