Today, May 27, is the birthday of actor Sir Christopher Lee. Though he passed away last year at the age of 93, he is still implanting himself into nightmares all over the world. Only death could keep him from acting.
He had a long career—almost 70 years with roles in every type of film, however he is best known for his more sinister characters, like his turn playing Dracula. He was Fransisco Scaramanga in the James Bond classic The Man with the Golden Gun. Younger viewers would recognize him as Saruman in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, as well as, The Hobbit film trilogy. He also starred as the Count Dooku in two of the Star Wars prequel films and was a popular addition in the films of director Tim Burton.
His lanky looks—all 6’5” of him— and deep voice may have made him a popular villain, but he also accomplished many other things. He was a very good singer who recorded music in multiple genres, including symphonic metal. Lee was a polyglot who spoke eight languages. Sir Lee also was a much decorated officer in WWII. He was a beloved family man who had been married to wife Birgit since 1961. His autobiography is aptly titled Tall, Dark and Gruesome was published in 1997.
If you want to see a really inventive, underseen performance of Sir Christopher Lee, check out his turn as a conflicted king in the 1984 “Shelley Duvall Faerie Tale Theater” episode of The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers. It can be seen on Hulu Plus.