Sunday 11 December 2016

Horror veteran Christopher Lee dies

Published 11/06/2015 | 13:26

Christopher Lee appeared in a string of horror films and played a Bond villain in The Man With The Golden Gun
Christopher Lee appeared in a string of horror films and played a Bond villain in The Man With The Golden Gun
Christopher Lee played a villain in a James Bond film

Veteran actor Sir Christopher Lee has died aged 93.

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The star, who appeared in a string of horror films and played a Bond villain in The Man With The Golden Gun, enjoyed a career renaissance playing Saruman in the Lord Of The Rings films.

He never stopped working and only last year marked his 92nd birthday by releasing a heavy metal version of the Frank Sinatra classic My Way.

It was one of seven tracks on an album called Metal Knight he recorded with an Italian band called Rhapsody Of Fire.

Two years ago he was honoured with a fellowship of the British Film Institute presented by his friend Johnny Depp.

Depp, who has worked with Sir Christopher on several Tim Burton projects including Sleepy Hollow, sneaked into the awards ceremony to surprise his friend.

Sir Christopher has amassed more than 250 screen credits, including his vampire appearances, his role as sinister Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man, and his collaborations with Burton.

He has often said that his title role in Jinnah, about the founder of Pakistan, is one of his favourite portrayals.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea confirmed that a death certificate had been issued for the star, who died on Sunday at a local hospital.

His Lord Of The Rings co-star Dominic Monaghan paid tribute, saying: " So, so sorry to hear that Christopher Lee has passed away. He was a fascinating person. Threw a Bic pen into a tree in front of me."

Actor Reece Shearsmith said: " Very upset to learn that Sir Christopher Lee has passed away. An amazing gentleman who brought us so many iconic roles. He will be missed."

Jonathan Ross said: "So sad to hear that Sir Christopher Lee has died. A great actor, a great star, a surprisingly good singer and a lovely, lovely man."

Sir Roger Moore said: "It's terrible when you lose an old friend, and Christopher Lee was one of my oldest. We first met in 1948.

" Our thoughts are for Lady Lee, Christina and Juan."

David Cameron's official Twitter account said: " Saddened to hear of Sir Christopher Lee's death, a titan of Golden Age of Cinema & distinguished WW2 veteran who'll be greatly missed".

Burton said: "Christopher has been an enormous inspiration to me my entire life. I had the honour and pleasure to work with him on five films (Sleepy Hollow, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Alice In Wonderland and Dark Shadows).

"He was the last of his kind - a true legend - who I'm fortunate to have called a friend. He will continue to inspire me and I'm sure countless others for generations to come."

Bafta chief executive Amanda Berry said: " I am deeply saddened by the death of Sir Christopher Lee, a truly talented and versatile actor. His biography, and therefore his legacy, is one that many in the film industry can only dream of.

"He appeared in over 200 films, including some of the most iconic of our times. Throughout his career, which stretched from the 1940s to date, there were so many outstanding performances - in Dracula, The Wicker Man, The Man with the Golden Gun, to name just a few of his many credits, and more recently, the Bafta and Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

"Sir Christopher received the Academy Fellowship, the highest honour Bafta can bestow, at the Film Awards in 2011; at the time he described it as a very unexpected but very great honour."

Amanda Nevill, the British Film Institute (BFI) CEO, said: " Sir Christopher Lee, a BFI Fellow, was a distinctive and enduring presence in British and international cinema for almost 70 years.

"He leaves behind an unforgettable legacy of film and television performance. His contribution to cinema history spans such films as the definitive Dracula for Hammer Films through Billy Wilder's The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, and the seminal The Wicker Man.

"His personal favourite was the title role in Jinnah. He had a unique ability to appeal to each successive generation, gaining a new wave of fans as Saruman in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and in Tim Burton's films. British Cinema pays tribute to this global legend."

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