5 little-known facts about Christopher Lee

Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) was a menacing Sith Lord and central figure in the Clone Wars. Photo: Lucasfilm.
Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) was a menacing Sith Lord and central figure in the Clone Wars. Photo: Lucasfilm. /

Star Wars’ Prequel Saga drew in many famous actors who flourished in the limelight of the trilogy, but none brought the gravitas and power of the budding Sith Lord – Count Dooku! A fallen Jedi duelist who was apprenticed to Yoda and the master of Qui-Gon Jinn, Dooku would be a presence long felt during the Clone Wars until his untimely end upon the Revenge of the Sith.

“Do it!” The last words heard by Count Dooku are a great example of the life of actor Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee. He was born May 27, 1922 in Belgravia, London, England, and died on June 7, 2015 in London, a city he fought for in the second World War.

If there was something Sir Christopher Lee could do, he did.

1. Christopher Lee almost played Grand Moff Tarkin

Except, perhaps, play Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars film. He turned down the role, which was picked up by his best friend, Peter Cushing. Lee ultimately had a total of 281 acting credits to his name over a period of approximately 70 years.

2. The Star Wars actor was also a solider

The man behind the cape and dual dueling sabers was a member of the Royal Air Force, but an optical impairment left him grounded. He moved to military intelligence, where he excelled so greatly that his step-cousin, Ian Fleming (the author of the James Bond novels), is sometimes said to have based James Bond on his life and exploits! This was no desk position, as he ran missions for the Long Range Desert Patrol, a forerunner of the SAS.

3. He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records

His prodigious height, at 6’5″, landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records for tallest lead actor in his day, but it also led to Sir Christopher being type-cast as a villain for much of his career. Evil wizards, mad scientists, vampires and even animated villains round out his career, a fitting place for a Sith Lord. He was Saruman in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, and one of the only men on set who had met J.R.R. Tolkien.

Guinness gave Sir Christopher another record. He was the most connected man in the world. While there may be six degrees of Kevin Bacon, the World Records company noted that everyone in the world was only 2.5 degrees separated from Christopher Lee. He was also one of the most prolific Dracula actors, with a solid 10 movies on his resume as the Count.

4. Lee was multilingual

Sir Lee spoke English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, and could converse in Greek, Russian, and Swedish. He often dubbed his own work in foreign releases.

5. He was a metal musician

He joined Rhapsody of Fire to play in their metal band when he was already in his 80s, having released a version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” earlier in his career that was not to be missed. At 90, he scored another world record as the oldest metal player in the world.

Sir Lee only married once, to British actress Birgit Kroencke, and was survived by her on his passing in 2015. We salute you, Sir Christopher Lee, our Count Dooku and a hero beloved by many despite (or perhaps because of) his villainous personae on screen!

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