Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Sir Christopher Lee & Me
2015 the world lost the last of the Classic Horror Greats, Sir
Christopher Lee. He was in a long line
that included Lon Chaney, Sr., Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, John
Carradine, Lon Chaney, Jr., Vincent Price, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, and
Peter Cushing. In 2007 he was in the
Guinness Book of World Records for the most screen credits 244 at the time, he
had a few more after that. He had been a
covert agent in World War II. He had
been a Nazi hunter after the war. He did this all before he was 25. In the
late forties, at the age of 25, he decided to take up acting.
It is not an exaggeration to say Sir Christopher Lee seriously freaked me out as a kid. I could handle some scary films, black and white or with humor like many of the Vincent Price films. Sir Christopher Lee’s Dracula in color scared little Ricky all to heck. Many portrayals of Dracula were more sultry, more seductive, but Sir Christopher Lee was all those things and incredibly menacing. I tried to watch his Dracula films multiple times till I was 12. I failed miserably. He scared the living bejeezus out of me.
When I saw him in The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, and the Man with the Golden Gun as the villain I was like I can buy that. I loved him in those roles. He became one of my favorite villainous actors. The older I got the more I was able to go back and watch his earlier work. So far the only Dracula film of his I have seen as an adult was Dracula 1972 AD. I was impressed, he was everything I remembered and feared, he was also so much more. It also starred his most famous collaborator Peter Cushing. Those two together are magic. Now, I wish to hunt down those collaborations and the collaborations he did with Vincent Price, as well.
He was a Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Fanboy himself. He told the story of fanboying out on J.R.R. Tolkien at a pub. He took roles some would definitely pass on. According to Guinness Book of World Records, in 2008 he was listed as the most connected actor, any actor connected to his in 2.59 steps. Beat that Kevin Bacon. He worked with some of the greatest directors of all time.
I saw his work in the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Hugo, and many of the films at the later part of his career. I went back and saw some of his earlier roles as an adult, Wicker Man, the Magic Christian and more. He never disappointed. Although he seemed always type cast as the villain, he never balked at it. He wanted to play Gandalf, but Peter Jackson felt Saruman fit better. His personality according to many sources was the opposite of the roles he played. He was generous and gracious to his costars. He did as much if not more television than he did film. He was never above anything, so it seems. He may have scared me, but he always entertained and awed me. The world lost another great entertainer and person. It is up to us, film fans to make sure Sir Christopher Lee, and many of the other Classic Horror Greats are never forgotten. Celebrate his life and works and go watch the man's films. You will not be sorry. Thank you Sir Christopher Lee for all you work. You will be missed.