Christopher Lee Interesting Facts

Hobbes

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I found these facts about Christopher Lee (May 27, 1922-June 7, 2015) quite interesting.


His mother was an Italian contessa, and through her Lee descended from the Emperor Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire and was related to Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general.

He met Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, the assassins of the Russian monk Rasputin. He didn’t do this as research for his later film role as Rasputin (in the 1966 Hammer film Rasputin the Mad Monk), but just as a child in the 1920s.

At age 17, he saw the death of the murderer Eugen Weidmann in Paris, the last person in France to be publicly executed by guillotine.

During World War II, Lee joined the Royal Air Force but wasn’t allowed to fly because of a problem with his optic nerve. So he became an intelligence officer for the Long Range Desert Patrol, a forerunner of the SAS, Britain’s special forces. He fought the Nazis in North Africa, often having up to five missions a day. During this time he helped retake Sicily, prevented a mutiny among his troops, contracted malaria six times in a single year and climbed Mount Vesuvius three days before it erupted.

At some point during the war he moved from the LRDP to Winston Churchill’s even more elite Special Operations Executive, whose missions are literally still classified, but involved “conducting espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers.” The SOE was more informally called - and I can’t believe this somehow hasn’t been made into a movie yet - The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

Lee never said anything specific about his time in the SOE, but he did say this: “I’ve seen many men die right in front of me - so many in fact that I’ve become almost hardened to it. Having seen the worst that human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise we would never have won.” By the end of the war he’d received commendations for bravery from the British, Polish, Czech and Yugoslavia governments.

Speaking both French and Italian, Lee spent his time after World War II hunting Nazis with the Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects until he decided to give acting a try at age 25. Yes, all of this happened before Lee was 25 years old.

Lee was not only related to James Bond creator and author Ian Fleming - they were step-cousins - but Lee was actually one of Fleming’s first choices for the role of Bond, not least because of Lee’s World War II and SOC experiences.

During his death scene in Return of the King (only included in the Extended Edition to Lee’s disapproval), director Peter Jackson was describing to him what sound people getting stabbed in the back should make. Lee gravely responded that he had seen people being stabbed in the back, and knew exactly what sound they made.

While filming a swordfight with a drunken Errol Flynn during the filming of The Dark Avengers in 1955, Flynn accidentally cut Lee’s hand so badly his finger nearly came off, and permanently injured. Later, Lee cut off Flynn’s wig while Flynn was still wearing it. Flynn stormed off set and refused to come out of his trailer until Lee claimed it was an accident.

He’s always been a big metal fan, but he released his first full heavy metal album in 2010 at the age of 88. Titled Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, which won the “Spirit of Metal” award from the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden Gods ceremony. He made a metal Christmas album in 2012. He was the oldest metal performer, and the oldest musician to ever hit the Billboard music charts.

In addition to his impossibly prolific film career, Lee was a world champion fencer, an opera singer, spoke six languages, and was a hell of a golfer.

He was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 for most screen credits,having appeared in 244 film and TV movies by that point in his career- at which point he made 14 more movies, with a 15thdue later this year (titled Angels in Notting Hill). He also holds the record for the tallest leading actor - he stood 6’ 5” - but also for starring in the “most films with a sword fight” with 17.

In the ‘50s, Lee was engaged to Henriette von Rosen, daughter of Count Fritz von Rosen. The Count apparently didn’t like Lee, because after hiring private detectives to investigate the actor and demanding references, he also refused to allow his daughter to marry him unless Lee got the blessing of the King of Sweden. Lee got it.


 

SoonerP226

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I read an anecdote about him not long ago. HE was being interviewed, and the interviewer asked him about his service during WWII.

Lee replied, "Can you keep a secret?"

The anxious interviewer anxiously replied that he could?

"Well," said Lee, leaning back and smiling, "so can I."
 

elance

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The number of patriots in acting(or other arts lest we forget those such as Glenn Miller )during ww2, still astounds me .
do you think we could field the same from today's crop?

elance
 

Podman

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We need to bring back the guillotine today and forget about drugs, hanging, shooting etc. Televise them and maybe we wouldn't have so much crime.
 
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