Christopher Lee: Dark Charisma
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Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee: Dark Charisma


Count Dracula Christopher Lee, born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee on May 27, 1922 in London, England to an Italian contessa and a colonel in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, has played Count Dracula no less than nine times in the cinema. He has also portrayed Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Fu Manchu, amongst the unsavory company of various other villains and fiends.

Many, however, remember him for two facts:

1. He became well-known for playing the King of Vampires
2. He and fellow British actor, Peter Cushing, appeared in several films together (22 in total).

Lee was first exposed to theatrics in school, and he later became a classical scholar at Wellington College. He served in Africa during World War II, and later in Special Operations he learned several languages, a help to him in his acting career when he could speak the language in some of his foreign films, such as El Conde Dracula (1972).

After the war, he tried acting but his height (6'4) impeded his career. For ten years his career consisted mostly of bit parts and television work. He even had to be a floor walker at a London department store for a time in the early 1950s.

1957 -- Lee played the monster in a Hammer Films' color remake called "Curse of Frankenstein". The film was successful on both sides of the Atlantic, and helped to revive interest in horror films. Peter Cushing notably portrayed Dr. Frankenstein in this production. Mr. Lee did not like the film, however, vowing to never do the part again.

1958 -- "Horror of Dracula" ("Dracula" in Britain), also by Hammer Films, has become a genre classic. The actor gave us an evil vampire, but one who could be pitied, and his characterization was developed out of "the loneliness of evil".

1974 -- His last portrayal of Dracula was in "Satanic Rites of Dracula". Mr. Lee also had an autobiography, "Tall, Dark and Gruesome" published this year.

He went on with his prolific career but he shall remain best known as Dracula. Interestingly, he wore a ring when in character as the count, one which had been worn by Bela Lugosi when he played the King of the vampires.

The Opinion of Your Webmistress:

Acting in many, many films, Mr. Lee's movies have not always been of stellar quality. However, his presence and talent are undeniable. Two of my favorite non-Dracula or horror roles of his are "The Three Musketeers" (1973) and "The Four Musketeers" (1974).

Christopher Lee Christopher Lee

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Christopher Lee: Dark Charisma
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