Christopher Lee, ‘Count Dracula’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ Star, Dead at 93

English actor also appeared in “Star Wars” prequels as Count Dooku

Last Updated: June 11, 2015 @ 8:04 AM

Christopher Lee, the English actor known for his portrayals of Dracula and Saruman in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, is dead. He was 93.

The prolific actor with 281 IMDb credits dating all the way back to 1946 passed away in a U.K. hospital, where he was admitted for respiratory problems and heart failure. According to his death certificate, which was published online by the Telegraph, Lee died June 7.

The Guardian reports that his wife, former model Birgit Kroencke, decided to hold back the information for four days until all family members and friends were informed.

Lee first took on the blood curdling role of the Transylvanian vampire in 1958’s “Horror of Dracula.”He would play the role in nine other films, the last time being in the 1976 film “Dracula and Son,” and is considered one of the most iconic actors to play the role, alongside Bela Lugosi.

Lee also memorably attempted to kill James Bond in the 1974 007 film “Man With the Golden Gun” as expert marksman Scaramanga. The film starred Roger Moore as the British spy and “Fantasy Island” star Hervé Villechaize as Scaramanga’s trusty servant Nick Nack.

Lee is best known to younger fans for his portrayal of the evil wizard Saruman in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise. He appeared in all three films, though his scenes in “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” were edited from the theatrical release, but restored on the DVD. He reprised the role in 2012’s “The Hobbit” and again in 2014’s “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.”

Lee also played the duplicitous Count Dooku in the “Star Wars” prequels. He first took on the role in 2002 in “Attack of the Clones,” in which he famously had a lightsaber duel with Jedi master Yoda. He would play the role again in 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith,” as well as lending his voice to the character in the 2008 animated film “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

Lee was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2009 for his service to drama and the arts. He also attained a number of other awards throughout his career, most recently winning the BAFTA Fellowship Award in 2011.

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