Curtains down for showman Christopher Lee at 93

MUMBAI: Actor Christopher Lee, who immortalised Count Dracula in the minds of viewers even generations later, through his stunning act in the film, died in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, on 7 June after being treated for respiratory problems. 

Not only did he become synonymous as Count Dracula after his stunning portrayal of the role in Hammer Horror films, he is well known amongst Bond lovers as Scaramanga from Man With The Golden Gun (1974). His other notable roles include a part in the seventies British horror classic The Wicker Man as the eccentric and evil Lord Summerisle, and, more recently in Lord of the Rings.

Born in Belgravia, Westminster, London, Lee was hard to manage as a child and therefore he would often be reprimanded by his teachers at school, which he accepted as  "logical and therefore acceptable" for being the rule breaker that he was. After his parents' divorce he lived with his mother and sister in Switzerland and later went to Miss Fisher's Academy in Territet, where he played his first role, as Rumpelstiltskin. 

Before establishing his career as an actor Lee volunteered with the Finnish forces in World War II and later assisted SAS in their operations  --  a part of his life he kept to himself with an air of secrecy. After returning to London, he did not find his calling in office work, nor did he find himself fit to teach at the University like other war veterans of his time. It was during a lunch meeting with his cousin Nicol? Carandini, now the Italian Ambassador to Britain, that the prospect of him being an actor came out. 

Initially worried that he was too tall to be an actor, Lee found instant fame after his first feature film The Curse of Frankenstein for Hammer Horror films. And there was no looking back for him post that.

Lee wasn’t just fit for the fantasy roles he played, he was an avid fantasy reader as well. In fact he re-read Lord of the Rings trilogy every year, and was the only member of the film cast to have met the author JRR Tolkien. While he is known for his astounding roles as an actor, Lee also tried his luck at single and faired pretty well. This multi-lingual talent had also rendered his voice for many animated movies as well. 

According to many, he was often dubbed as the ‘real life James Bond’ thanks to his exploits as a war veteran and his close association with James Bond author and his cousin Ian Fleming.

While Twitter and Facebook flooded with comments from industry and fans alike, pouring down their grief at the loss of this great artiste, Lee’s family has refrained from giving any comment.

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