Sir Christopher Lee died on Sunday at age 93 in London. The British actor had been in Westminster Hospital for three weeks for respiratory problems and heart failure.
According to the Guardian, his wife Gitte Kroenecke, a former model and painter, did not reveal the news until Thursday, after all of Lee’s family had been notified. The couple were married in 1961 and have one daughter, Christina.
Lee fought in the British Royal Air Force and Special Forces in World War II, according to his website. After the war, he started working in film. He gained notoriety for playing Dracula in a series from Hammer Horror. He first took on the role of the famous vampire in 1958 and went on to play him six more times over the next 15 years.
In 1999, Lee said he wanted to be known for more than the horror roles he took on decades ago. "Inevitably, people talk about the last horror icon and so on," he said to USA Today. "It's very gratifying, but that doesn't mean those are the only roles I have done."
After forsaking the role of Dracula, Lee went on to play villains in the James Bond films “Dr. No” and “The Man with the Golden Gun.” More recently, he had roles in other series with cult followings. Lee played the evil wizard Saruman in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy as well as “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” He was the only cast member to have actually met J.R.R. Tolkien, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Lee also was in the second “Star Wars” trilogy, appearing as Count Dooku in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.”
Lee was knighted by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 2009 for his accomplishments in theater and film. While he was a respected actor, Lee had some quirky interests outside of the movie industry. He recorded two heavy metal albums and had a collection of more than 12,000 occult books.
The actor never retired. He has one film that will come out posthumously, “Angels in Notting Hill,” and was signed on to do a film called “The 11th,” which hasn’t started filming yet. “It’s not for me. I hate being idle. As dear Boris [Karloff] used to say, when I die I want to die with my boots on. Which he did,” Lee told the Telegraph when asked about retirement in 2011.