London: Hollywood legend Christopher Lee, best known for his role as “Count Dracula” in Hammer Horror films, has died, said sources close to his family. He was 93. The “Star Wars” actor died on Sunday at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital here. He was being treated there for respiratory problems and heart failure over the preceding three weeks and turned 93 in hospital, reported telegraph.co.uk. His wife Lady Lee chose to delay the public announcement of Lee’s passing away until she had informed close family members. The couple were married for more than 50 years.
Lee’s career began in the 1940s, but it was the 1958 film “Dracula Has Risen From The Grave” that made him a star. He was introduced to a new generation of fans as a star of some of the world’s biggest franchises: Count Dooku in the “Star Wars” films, Saruman in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”. There was also a sucessful partnership with Tim Burton in films including “Alice in Wonderland” and “Sleepy Hollow”. His memorable roles included Lord Summerisle in “The Wicker Man” (1973) and Scaramanga in “The Man With The Golden Gun” (1974). He had a personal connection to James Bond; Ian Fleming, Bond’s creator, was his cousin.
Lee was knighted in 2009 and received a Bafta fellowship in 2011, and said he would never retire. “I hate being idle. As dear Boris (Karloff) used to say, ‘When I die I want to die with my boots on’.” Before his death, the nonagenarian had signed up for a new film, “The 11th”, an ensemble drama co-starring Uma Thurman. Set in the hours leading up to the attack on the Twin Towers, it was due to start filming in November.