May. 27th, 1922
Belgravia, London, England, UK
Guest TV Roles
Lucas de Beaumanoir
Rodin the Gardener
Sir Otto from the Rhine
The British actor Christopher Lee was born in 1922 in London, England, where he and his older sister Xandra were raised by Estelle Marie and Geoffrey Trollope, a professional soldier, until their divorce in 1926. Later, while Lee was still a child, his mother married (and later divorced) Harcourt George St.-Croix (nicknamed Ingle), who was a banker. After attending Wellington College from age 14 to 17, Lee worked as an office clerk in a couple of London shipping companies until 1941 when he enlisted in the RAF during World War II. Following his release from military service, Lee joined the Rank Organisation in 1947, training as an actor in their "Charm School" and playing a number of bit parts in such films as Corridor of Mirrors (1948). He made a brief appearance in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948), in which his future partner-in-horror Peter Cushing also appeared. Both actors also appeared later in Moulin Rouge (1952) but did not meet until their horror films together.
Lee had numerous parts in film and television throughout the 1950s but didn't achieve stardom until his association with Hammer Film Productions, which started with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959), and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), all co-starring Peter Cushing. Lee continued his role as "Dracula" in a number of Hammer sequels throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s. During this time, he made numerous appearances as Fu Manchu, most notably in the first of the series The Face of Fu Manchu (1965), and also appeared in a number of films in Europe. With his own production company, Charlemagne Productions, Ltd., Lee made Nothing But the Night (1973) and To the Devil a Daughter (1976). By the mid-1970s, Lee was tiring of his horror image and tried to widen his appeal by participating in several mainstream films, such as The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), The Three Musketeers (1973), The Four Musketeers (1974), and the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).
The success of these films prompted him in the late 1970s to move to Hollywood, where he remained a busy actor but made mostly unremarkable film and television appearances, and eventually moved back to England. Lee's career was revitalized in the early 2000s by his appearances in two blockbuster film franchises: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) (as Saruman the White) and Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) (as Count Dooku). In 2001, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his contributions to the film and television industries.
- Turned down 'Donald Pleasence' (qv)'s role in _Halloween (1978)_ (qv). (He later remarked that this was his biggest mistake.)
- In 1972 he founded Charlemagne Productions Ltd.
- His films have made more money than any other actor's in history. As of May 2006, five of his films ('The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy and the two "Star Wars" films in which he played Count Dooku) had total grosses in excess of $4.4 billion. Even without considering Lee's other appearances dating back to 1948, his totals considerably surpass the figures of #3 billion and #3.8 billion claimed by 'Harrison Ford (I)' (qv) and 'Samuel L. Jackson' (qv), respectively.
- Speaks very good French, good enough to understand questions and give long replies in a press conference.
- (2001) In a radio interview in South Africa, Lee claimed that he held the record for number of film roles by an actor.
- Was voted no. 31 on the recent British televised poll "The Greatest Movie Stars Of All Time" above the likes of 'John Wayne (I)' (qv), 'Michael Caine (I)' (qv) and 'Humphrey Bogart' (qv).
- Has worked with three James Bonds: 'Roger Moore (I)' (qv) in _The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)_ (qv), 'Pierce Brosnan' (qv) in _"Around the World in 80 Days" (1989/I)_ (qv), and 'Daniel Craig (I)' (qv) in _The Golden Compass (2007)_ (qv).
- Served in British Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve from 1941 to 1946. During that time he was an active member of the Special Forces.