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Christopher Lee, Legendary Movie Villain, Dead at 93

Christopher Lee, Legendary Movie Villain, Dead at 93


One of his most lauded roles was as the leader of a gay biker gang, but the British actor is best remembered for his iconic work as a master villain.

Actor Christopher Lee is being remembered as one of Hollywood's most consistent "baddies:" the British actor with the most prolific career as a screen-villain of all time, from Dracula to "Star Wars" and "The Lord of the Rings" series.

Reports this morning say Lee died June 7 at a hospital in London. He was 93.

According to the Associated Press, a London official said a death certificate was issued the day after Lee died. The official, from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, spoke on condition of anonymity under standing rules for the office.

An e-mailed statement to the Reuters news agency from Lee's agent said his family "wishes to make no comment." The cause was respiratory and heart ailments, according to British media accounts.

The Washington Post reported Lee's career spanned more than 250 films and TV shows over nearly seven decades. Lee said he tried to "make the unbelievable believable," to humanize the most macabre characters. Six-foot-four, with a dignified air, he presented refined, even suave portraits of evil.

He also won plaudits in "Serial," a 1980 film in which he portrayed a business executive with a second life as a character named Skull, the head of a gay biker gang.

"Christopher has a certain persona," George Lucas once told The New York Times. "You wouldn't cast him in a remake of 'Father Knows Best.' He's formidable."

Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was born in London on May 27, 1922. He said his father was a British army commander and that his mother was an Italian countess.

Lee was raised by his mother and stepfather, a banker with an expensive drinking problem.

In 1961, he married a Danish fashion model, Birgit Kroencke, and they had a daughter, Christina. Besides his wife, the Post reported a complete list of survivors could not be immediately confirmed.

In recent years, Lee sang a heavy metal version of "My Way" and other songs with an Italian band called Rhapsody of Fire, according to the Post. He also recorded an album of "operatic" heavy metal covers of Christmas carols.

In 1977, Lee wrote a memoir, "Tall, Dark and Gruesome" and received a knighthood in 2009 for his long career and charitable work. At times, he embraced jokes at his expense, including his reputation for accepting nearly any role, no matter how dubious the quality.

As a host of "Saturday Night Live" in 1978, Lee appeared in a skit about coming attractions for movies so bad that even he had turned them down. Among the titles: "The Creature from the Black Studies Program," "Dr. Terror's House of Pancakes" and "The Island of Lost Luggage."

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