Star of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy from New Line Cinema and STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES and EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH from Lucas Films following starring roles in the critically-acclaimed independent picture JINNAH, which he considers to be the most important movie of his whole career and the epic BBC miniseries GORMENGHAST, legendary actor CHRISTOPHER FRANK CARANDINI LEE also recently appeared in CRIMSON RIVERS II with Jean Reno and Tim Burton's SLEEPY HOLLOW (Paramount). He is due to appear in Tim Burton's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Warner Bros).
Christopher Lee was born in Belgravia, London on 27th May 1922. His father was a Colonel in the 60th King's Royal Rifle Corps (originally the Royal Americans) and was decorated for gallantry in the Boer War and First World War. He was also one of the greatest amateur sportsmen of his time. His mother, Contessa Estelle Marie Carandini di Sarzano, was a noted Edwardian beauty and was painted by John Lavery, Oswald Birley and Olive Snell and sculpted by Clare Sheridan, a cousin of Winston Churchill.
The Carandini family is one of the oldest in Europe and traces itself back to the first century AD. It is believed to have had close connections with the Emperor Charlemagne and was granted the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. An ancestor, Cardinal Consalvi, was Papal Secretary of State at the time of Napoleon and is buried at the Pantheon in Rome next to the painter Raphael. His painting, by Lawrence hangs, in Windsor Castle . A cousin, Niccolo Carandini, was the first Italian ambassador to Britain after World War II and subsequently was President of Alitalia.
Christopher Lee was educated at Summer Fields preparatory school, took a scholarship at Eton College and Wellington College where he was a classical scholar in Greek and Latin. After leaving school he worked as an office boy and messenger in the city of London at the salary of 1 pound a week and during five years of World War II he served in the Royal Air Force and Special Forces. He was decorated for distinguished service and held the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
After demobilisation in 1946, he entered the film industry in 1947 and was for a time under contract to the Rank Organisation. He has appeared in the theatre and in operatic performances and has recorded for radio world-wide. He also sang in 'The Return of Captain Invincible' and recorded 'The King of Elfland's Daughter' for Chrysalis, Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale' for Nimbus, 'Peter and the Wolf' also for Nimbus, conducted by Yehudi Menuhin, 'The King and I', 'Christopher Lee sings 'Devils, Rogues and Other Villains, from Broadway to Bayreuth ' and many others. In 2005 he recorded an album with world famous metal band Rhapsody and the single in “The Magic of the Wizards Dream”, sang in four languages and which entered the music charts in several countries, making him a top recording artist. In 2006, he released a solo album 'Revelation', in which he sung all songs totally character. (this was a humourous approache to singin). In 2010, he became to oldest singer to release a symphinic metal album 'Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross'. In that same year he was awarded a Metal Hammer Golden God Award.
The directors for whom he has worked include John Huston, Raoul Walsh, Joseph Losey, George Marshall, Orson Welles, Nicholas Ray, Michael Powell, Edward Molinaro, Jerome Savary, Billy Wilder, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, Peter Jackson, Tim Burton, John Landis, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Andrei Konchalovsky. He has filmed in Russian, French, Italian, German, Spanish and has worked in numerous countries all over the world.
He has appeared in more than 250 film and television productions, amongst which the best known are " A Tale of Two Cities", "Dracula", "The Mummy", "The Wicker Man", "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes", "The Three and The Four Musketeers", "The Man with The Golden Gun" (of which the author was his cousin Ian Fleming), "1941","Airport '77" and "Gremlins II". He considers the most important point in his career to have been as host of "Saturday Night Live" in 1978, with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman and Jane Curtin. It is still the third highest rated show of the series.
He has three claims to fame as an actor. He is the only actor who has portrayed Sherlock Holmes and his brother Mycroft. He executed King Charles the First of England and King Louis the Sixteenth of France and he hold the World record for more sword fights in front of the camera than other actor in history. He also did all of his stunts and is an honorary member of three Stuntmen's Unions.
At college he was in the top ranking at squash, racquets and fencing, and was equally at home at cricket, rugby, football, and hockey. He speaks French, Italian, Spanish and German and can "get along" in Swedish, Russian and Greek. His hobbies are travel, opera and golf. His handicap, once scratch, is now eight and he is up to now the only actor made a member of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the oldest golf club in the world founded in 1744. He has had the great fortune to have played most of the world's famous courses and is profoundly grateful to have played with virtually all the great golfers of modern times, from James Braid to Jack Nicklaus.
He has received awards for his contribution to the cinema from the United States , France , Germany , Spain , Italy and Great Britain . He is a Commander Brother of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem , the world's oldest order.
He has been married for 44 years to Danish model and painter Gitte Kroencke, who before their marriage modelled for Balenciaga, Balmain, Chanel and Christian Dior. They have one daughter, Christina, who was born in Switzerland . After living some years in Switzerland and California , they are now residents in the United Kingdom.
Amongst his publications are an autobiography "Tall, Dark and Gruesome", first published by W.H. Allen in 1977 (and since republished in 1997 and has also been republished in 2003 by Orion Books Ltd as Lord of Misrule, introduced by Peter Jackson) as well as "The Great Villains", "Archives of Evil" and "The Films of Christopher Lee" (Scarecrow Press) . Christopher Lee is listed in the Guinness Book of Movie Facts and Feats as being the international star with the most screen credits. He was awarded the London Film Critics Dilys Powell '94 award for his work as an actor and services to the film industry. He has recently been awarded Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday's Honours list. In 2002 at the height of his career, he was awarded the prestigious Lifetime World Actor Award in Vienna from the hands of Mikhail Gorbachev . He was named by the French Government Officer of Arts and Letters. In 2009 he was knighted by Prince Charles and became Sir Christopher Lee.