From immortal monster, to Jedi, to powerful wizard. He had worn many faces throughout his long and distinguished career. This week, the world mourned the loss of veteran stage and screen actor, Sir Christopher Lee.
My introduction to Christopher Lee came one night, well after my bedtime, staying up to watch Chiller Theatre.
I enjoyed (usually with one eye open) many Hammer Horror films, most of them starring Lee, starting with Horror of Dracula (1958), with Lee in the title role and co-star Peter Cushing (another favorite of mine and fellow Star Wars alum) as his nemesis Van Helsing. As a little girl, hiding under the covers, peeking out just as he was about to strike at some unsuspecting victim, I was both terrified and mesmerized by Lee’s gaze. I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was hooked.
I credit my love of gothic horror to those early films. Lee’s Dracula was silent and menacing. He was far from repentant, and no, damn it, he never sparkled – he compelled – as any good (or in this case, bad) vampire should. He’d given me many nightmares, and later in life, he was also a source of inspiration for many of the stories I’d go on to write.
Years later, I was thrilled to see him as Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels and again in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies as Saruman the White. Nearly 80 when he took on those roles, Lee showed no signs of slowing down. He even recorded the Heavy Metal Christmas album in 2012. Still cool, still relevant and still doing things his way at 90, I couldn’t help but admire him.
Lee cast a long and imposing shadow, standing a full 6 feet 5 inches tall. He was a giant in every way to someone like me. From everything I’d seen, Christopher Lee was a proud man, a powerful man and a serious man. He had served in the military, was in the RAF during World War II, and had received various honors, including knighthood in 2009. The man certainly seemed the stuff of legend.
Christopher Lee kept acting into his 90s, always sharp and full of purpose, and he left quite a legacy. I thought somehow he’d live forever… He was an original. We’ll likely never see another like him, and he will be sorely missed.
Christopher Lee passed away on June 7, 2015, at the age of 93. He has gone to join his friends and former co-stars, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and John Carradine (all gone, but not forgotten.. nothing is ever forgotten…) – best known for their horror/sci-fi roles. I’m sure they welcome him with open arms. Oh, the stories they must have to share.
Farewell… and many thanks, Sir Christopher Lee. I owe you more than I ever realized…