Lee Van Cleef
64 (passed away Dec. 16th, 1989)
Jan. 9th, 1925
Somerville, New Jersey, USA
Lee Van Cleef's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1990 - Thieves of Fortune
1989 - Speed Zone!
1981 - Escape from New York
1980 - The Octagon
1975 - Take a Hard Ride
1972 - The Magnificent Seven Ride!
1970 - Barquero
1968 - Al di là della legge
1967 - Da uomo a uomo
1962 - How the West Was Won
1962 - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
1959 - Ride Lonesome
1958 - The Young Lions
1957 - The Lonely Man
1957 - The Tin Star
1957 - Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
1956 - Accused of Murder
1956 - Pardners
1956 - The Conqueror
1956 - It Conquered the World
1955 - The Big Combo
1955 - A Man Alone
1953 - The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
1952 - High Noon
1952 - Kansas City Confidential
Guest TV Roles
Sheriff Ned Jackson
One of the great movie villains, Lee Van Cleef started out as an accountant. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard minesweepers and subchasers during World War II. After the war he worked as an office administrator, becoming involved in amateur theatrics in his spare time. An audition for a professional role led to a touring company job in "Mr. Roberts". His performance was seen by Stanley Kramer, who cast him as henchman Jack Colby in High Noon (1952), a role that brought him great recognition despite the fact that he had no dialogue. For the next decade he played a string of memorably villainous characters, primarily in westerns but also in crime dramas such as The Big Combo (1955). His hawk nose and steely, slit eyes seemed destined to keep him always in the realm of heavies, but in the mid-'60s Sergio Leone (I) cast him as the tough but decent Col. Mortimer opposite Clint Eastwood in Per qualche dollaro in pił (1965). A new career as a western hero (or at least anti-hero) opened up, and Van Cleef became an international star, though in films of decreasing quality. In the 1980s he moved easily into action and martial-arts movies, and starred in "The Master" (1984), a TV series featuring almost non-stop martial arts action. He died of a heart attack in December 1989, and was buried at Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills.
- Son of Clarence Leroy Van Cleef and wife Maria Lavinia Van Fleet, both mostly of Dutch ancestry.
- He had three children from his first marriage: Deborah, Alan and David.
- Was the inspiration for the character Revolver Ocelot in the "Metal Gear" series of games.
- One episode of his short-lived TV series, _"The Master" (1984)_ (qv), was titled "The Good, The Bad and the Priceless".
- Was on the shortlist of actors under consideration for 'Brad Whitaker' (qv) the arms dealer in The Living Daylights (1987).
- He had almost given up his acting career in the mid-'60s and turned to painting when he was cast by 'Sergio Leone (I)' (qv) in _Per qualche dollaro in pił (1965)_ (qv). It made him a superstar in Europe and restarted his career in the US, making him again a recognizable and bankable name.
- According to the book "Weird NJ" (Sceurman, Mark and Mark Moran, Barnes and Noble Books, 2004 ISBN 0-7607-3979-X) he was a descendant of the Morris County Van Cleefs who were infamous in the area for their strange living and "procreational" efforts. In fact, one trait that Lee had was that he had one green eye and one blue eye. According to the book, "this telltale characteristic was corrected in the movies with colored contact lenses".
- Interviewed in "Bad at the Bijou" by William R. Horner (McFarland, 1982).
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