"There are many vampires in the world today - you only have to think of the film business." Christopher Lee
Film icon Christopher Lee specialises in villains and made a superb Saruman the White in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Incidentally, Lee is the only member of the Lord of the Rings cast and crew to have met Tolkien.
The British actor was born in 1922. After leaving college at 17, he worked as an office clerk in a couple of London shipping companies and, as a member of volunteer troops from Britain, fought in the Winter War in 1939-40 in Finland. Lee joined the RAF in 1941 and also worked in British Intelligence during the Second World War. He's been elusive about that ever since:
"When people say to me, you know, were you in this? Were you in that? Did you work in this? Did you work in that? I always used to say 'Can you keep a secret?' And they would say 'Yes, yes' and I would say "So can I."
Lee trained as an actor in 1947 and had numerous parts in film and television throughout the 1950s (even though his 6ft 5 height made it difficult for him to blend in during crowd scenes!). His stardom came when he joined Hammer Film Productions to make classics such as The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). He continued his role as Dracula in a number of Hammer sequels throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s. During this time, he also made numerous appearances as Fu Manchu, most notably in the first of the series The Face of Fu Manchu (1965).
With his own production company, Charlemagne Productions, Ltd., Lee made Nothing but the Night (1972) and To the Devil a Daughter (1976). By the mid-1970s, Lee moved to star in mainstream films, such as The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), The Three Musketeers (1973), The Four Musketeers (1974) and the title role in James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).
Lee's career reached new heights in the early 2000s when he featured in two blockbuster film franchises: The Lord of the Rings (as Saruman the White) and Star Wars (as Count Dooku).
In 2001, he was a made a Commander of the Empire in recognition of his contributions to the film and television industries.