Christopher Lee on the Hugo Cabret red carpetChristopher Lee, a veteran movie actor with nearly 300 credits to his name, has died at the age of 93. Lee died of respiratory problems and heart failure on Sunday (June 7), and The Guardian reports his wife of over 50 years did not want to release the news publicly right away in order to inform all of the family members.

In recent years, Lee was best known for his portrayal of Saruman in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the two “Hobbit” movies. But prior to that, he appeared in a wide variety of films, ranging the “The Wicker Man” and the 1970 version of “Dracula” to the new “Star Wars” movies and “Police Academy: Mission to Moscow.”

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In the 1950s and ’60s, Lee, with his dark looks and deep voice, was a staple of the horror movie genre, making dozens of movies for Hammer Studios. Those also introduced him to Peter Cushing, with whom he starred in over 20 films; the two became close friends. 

In recent years, Lee also worked with director Tim Burton quite a lot. He had small roles in “Sleepy Hollow,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Sweeney Todd,” though the “Sweeney Todd” role was eventually cut. Lee also did some voice work on Burton’s “Corpse Bride” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

The actor was a singer, releasing four heavy metal albums and three EPs between 1998 and 2013. Not bad for a man in his 80s and 90s.

Lee was knighted in 2009 for services to drama an charity and was given the BAFTA fellowship in 2011. He is survived by his wife Birgit Kroncke and daughter Christina.

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Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."