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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 14:50 GMT
CBE for horror legend Lee
Christopher Lee
Lee: Associated with the horror genre for almost five decades
Christopher Lee - better known to film-goers as Count Dracula - has collected his CBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

The 79-year-old actor is being honoured for services to drama.

"The Queen said 'You've had a long career' - it's 55 years now - and she asked me what I was doing now," said Lee after the ceremony.

Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee: Services to drama
"So I told her about Lord of the Rings. I play Saruman the White the Great Wizard, who is 8,000 years old.

"It really is a great film - nobody's ever seen anything like it....It could even beat Harry Potter at the box office."

Lee is best known for a series of films he made in the Hammer Horror series, starting with the first Hammer production, The Curse of Frankenstein, in 1957.

He became one of British cinema's most famous baddies, playing Sir Henry Baskerville in the Hound of the Baskervilles, Fu Manchu, Rasputin, and the pagan leader Lord Summerisle in the cult film The Wicker Man.

Christopher Lee
Lee made the first Hammer film
He also played Scaramanga in the James Bond film, The Man With The Golden Gun.


Lee was born in Belgravia, London, in 1922.

His mother Estelle Marie Carandini was an aristocrat - but the line of succession stopped at her generation.

His father was an lieutenant colonel but left home, after 16 years of marriage, when Lee was four.

As a boy, Lee gained scholarships to Eton and Wellington, but left school at 16 and and joined the RAF.

Dracula poster
But the famous horror actor says his blood-sucking days are over
Grounded due to an eye problem, he transferred to the special forces where he became an intelligence officer during WWII.


It was when he was unemployed after the war that Lee tried acting, starting his film career in 1947.

He has since entered the record books as the actor who has made the most screen appearances in film history - more than 250.

He is still much in demand as an actor who can bring menace and mystery to a role.

His forthcoming films include The Lord of the Rings, in which he plays the evil Saruman, and the next Star Wars movie, in which he portrays Count Dooku.

See also:

12 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Legend Lee joins Star Wars cast
02 Jun 00 | South Asia
Jinnah film overcomes doubts
26 Sep 98 | South Asia
Troubled Jinnah movie opens
02 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Count of the silver screen
08 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Hammer's chilling comeback
03 Dec 97 | UK
Homage to Hammer horror
08 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Gormenghast leads BBC Two winter
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