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Actor Christopher Lee Was A Real Life Badass


Most people know Christopher
Lee for his work in the movies, specifically for his work in
The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and of course,
his portrayal of Dracula in 10 films. But he was much
more than an actor. He was a man who lived
life to the fullest. He was knighted, hunted
Nazis in World War II, saved lives, earned
several world records, and released several heavy
metal albums in the 2000s. And that’s just a partial list. Today, we’re going to explore
the life of Christopher Lee and why he’s the most
interesting man in the world. But before we get
started, subscribe to our channel, Weird History. Leave a comment and let us know
what you think about this video and who you’d like
us to cover next. [MUSIC PLAYING] Sir Christopher Frank Carandini
Lee was born on May 27, 1922 in Belgravia London, England. Even if he were never
to become an actor, his life still would be
considered an adventure. It’s almost like he lived
the life of Forrest Gump if Forrest was
played by James Bond. We all know Christopher
Lee was an actor. What’s possibly more interesting
is his storied military career. At 18 in 1939, Lee
volunteered to fight for the Finnish forces
during the Winter War when World War II broke out. By 1941, Lee volunteered
for the Royal Air Force where he felt he could
make a greater impact. But after being diagnosed
with a damaged optic nerve, he was told he would
never be allowed to fly again, so he joined the
Royal Air Force Intelligence branch. It was here that
Lee was attached to the special
operations executive and the long-range desert
group, the precursor of the Special Air Service. Lee never got into the
details of his time with the special forces,
but here’s what we know. While in the
Special Air Service, he fought in North Africa,
and then later moved on to Winston Churchill’s
Special Operations Executive. For his final few
months of service, he was seconded to the Central
Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects where
he hunted Nazi criminals throughout Europe. Decades later, when asked
about his military service in a press junket, Lee
told the interviewer, can you keep a secret? The journalist eagerly said yes. Lee leaned in, lowered his
voice, and said, so can I. [MUSIC PLAYING] When Christopher Lee retired
for the military in 1946 at 25– yes, he accomplished
all of his previously mentioned military heroics
by the time he was 25– he wasn’t sure what he
wanted to do with his life. One day during lunch with his
cousin Nicolo Carandini, then the Italian
ambassador to Britain, Lee was recounting his
time in the military. Carandini then
casually suggested, why don’t you become
an actor, Christopher? And thus began his foray into
the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records. In 1948, Lee’s first year as an
actor, he was in eight films. By 2007, Guinness World
Records honored him with the title of most screen
credits held by any living actor, with 244 TV and movie
credits under his belt. By the time he passed
away on June 7, 2015, he added 24 more
credits to that list. Lee got his second world record
for being the tallest leading actor, standing at
6′ 5″, which he later went on to share when Vince
Vaughn got his SAG card. Lee’s final Guinness
title was achieved for being the actor in the
most films with a sword fight. Lee dueled in 17 films
with foils, swords, and even billiard cues. Of course, this record also
includes his light saber fight as Count Dooku in Star Wars. Christopher Lee was
quite the sportsman when he attended Wellington College. He played cricket,
rugby, football, and held top ranking in fencing. Christopher Lee’s family tree
is as impressive as they come. With his pedigree,
it’s no surprise that he went on to lead an
incredibly interesting life. His mother, Countess
Estelle Marie, was an Edwardian beauty
who was painted by Sir John Lavery, Oswald
Birley, Olive Snell, and sculpted by Clare Sheridan. Her lineage can be traced
to King Charlemagne. Lee’s family even bears
Charlemagne’s coat of arms. Lee was also a distant
relative of a couple of other famous men, American
Civil War General Robert E Lee, and English astronomer
and mathematician John Lee. And as if his family tree
needed to get any cooler, Lee is also a step cousin
of Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels. Lee’s mother divorced
his father and remarried Harcourt George Sainte
Croix Rose, Fleming’s uncle. Interestingly enough, Lee
would later work with Fleming on the James Bond film, The
Man with the Golden Gun, as Francisco Scaramang, the
main villain and assassin who was identified by his golden
gun and superfluous nipple. Fleming originally wanted him
to play another bond role. According to Lee in this
interview with Total Film, Fleming wanted his step cousin
to portray a Spectre villain. “He wanted me to play Dr. No. But by the time he got
around to remembering to tell the producers, they’d
already cast someone else. Spilled milk. And unfortunately,
Ian wasn’t with us when I did Scaramanga,
who was not remotely like the character in the book. In Fleming’s novel, he’s
just a West Indian thug. In the film, he’s charming,
elegant, amusing, lethal. I played him like the
dark side of bond.” It could be said that
Christopher Lee had a knack for being
at the right place at the right time
for most of his life. At 17, during the
summer of 1939, Lee was traveling
through France to meet up with his sister in
the French Riviera when she was on
holiday with friends. On his way there, he took
a detour through Paris, where he stayed with the
journalist Webb Miller. During his stay with
Miller, Lee found himself outside the prison walls of
Saint Pierre at Versailles for the public execution
of German criminal and serial murderer
Eugen Weidmann. Naturally, because everything
in Lee’s life was hard core, Weidmann’s method of
execution was by guillotine. The scene was so
scandalous and hampered with hysterical
behavior by spectators, French President Albert
Lebrun immediately banned all future
public executions. Witnessing Weidmann’s
June 17 execution must have stirred up
a dark interest in Lee on the subject matter,
because he ended up studying the history
of public executions. He also claimed
he knew the names of every public executioner
in England dating back to the 15th century. Early into his acting
career, Christopher Lee had to make a decision. Either continue down the path
of his young career as an actor, or become an opera singer. Around 1948 or ’49,
Lee says he was approached by the world
famous tenor Jussi Bjorling while in Sweden. Bjorling witnessed
Lee casually singing with a bunch of students from
Stockholm, walked up to him and told him, you don’t want
to waste your time acting. You’ve got a voice. You have the instrument. You have the sound. You should be a singer. Bjorling then
offered to train Lee, but the actor would have to pay
for his own housing and food in Stockholm. Lee was a starving
artist, and said he had very little
money in those days, so he had to turn down the
offer, a decision he regretted until his death. Lee just didn’t stumble
into opera though. Singing was in his blood. His great grandparents founded
the first opera company in Australia in the 1850s. His London-born
great grandmother became the most famous
singer in Australia. Her name was Marie Carandini. When Lee was on military leave
in Naples some time in 1944, he climbed Mount Vesuvius a mere
three days before it erupted. You can imagine him saying smoke
rises from the mountain of Doom Vesuvius. The hour grows late and
Gandalf the gray rides to Isengard seeking my counsel. The mountain–
Vesuvius, not Doom– erupted on March 17, 1944, about
four years into World War II. That was the last time
the volcano acted up. The 1916 death of
Grigori Rasputin, the infamous Russian
mystic, is highly contested in some circles. Here’s what we know for certain. Rasputin died of three gunshots,
one of which was at close range to his forehead. Beyond this, little is
certain about his death, and the circumstances
of his murder have been the subject of
considerable speculation. The story goes that he was
poisoned, shot, beaten, and then finally, drowned. The assassins
responsible are thought to be Prince Yusupov and
Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. Although Lee starred as Rasputin
in Rasputin the Mad Monk, his connection to the
assassination goes deeper. Lee actually met
Yusupov and Pavlovich as a child due to his
mother’s royal connections. Christopher Lee
was a longtime fan of The Lord of the Rings
author JRR Tolkien. As a matter of fact,
Lee said he used to read all of Tolkien’s books
once a year, just because he liked the writing so much. Lee is also the only Lord
of the Rings cast member to have ever met the
man behind the books. As Lee tells the story, he was
out with a group of friends in Oxford sometime
in the ’50s, and they stopped in The Eagle
and Child for a pint. Coincidentally, this happened
to be Tolkien’s local pub. As we know by now, Christopher
Lee had a voice, a voice so bad ass he could have become
a legit world class opera singer in his mid-20s. He chose the path of
an actor, but he never let his dream of
becoming a singer die. Because in 2010, when
he was 88 years old, he released his first
heavy metal album. The album, his debut,
was titled Charlemagne by The Sword and
the Cross, and it tells the story of Charlemagne,
the first Holy Roman Emperor, his distant relative. To be fair, it was more
of a symphonic metal. Lots of chanting and
dramatic readings. Think Music From
“The Elder” by Kiss. In 2013, he released a follow-up
album called Charlemagne, Omens of Death, and that was a true
heavy metal, nay, power metal album. The album’s music was arranged
by Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner, and at 90 years old,
Lee was the oldest heavy metal performer in history. And if you think he’d gone into
the world of metal as a lark, you’d be wrong. Lee issued several other
legit dark metal releases, including 2014’s Metal Night
and a couple of dark Christmas EPs with his metal versions
of The Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night. Christopher Lee and
Hammer Films go way back. It was with Hammer Films
that Lee became something of a household name with his
portrayal of Count Dracula in the 1958 classic Dracula. In fact, Lee portrayed
several iconic characters from Hammer Films, including The
Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Rasputin over
eight of their films. While he has Hammer Films
to thank for propelling him from an extra on the
bottom of the call sheet to the leading man, Lee wanted
to leave the British film company. He grew bored with
the Dracula character and felt the scripts were weak. Once Hammer’s executives found
out Lee wanted to move on, they guilted him into staying
by explaining how many employees would be out of work if Lee
stop starring in Hammer’s films. In short, Lee was
emotionally blackmailed into reprising the lead role
in Dracula, Prince of Darkness. However, Lee starred in
the movie on his terms, and because he felt
the script was so bad, Lee refused to utter
one line of dialogue. Instead, he hissed and
yelled incoherently throughout the film. Christopher Lee played
some pretty dark characters in his career as an actor,
Dracula, a mummy, Count Dooku, Rasputin, Saruman, even
Death in a small role. And we know about his work
as a black metal singer, so it’s no surprise
that after decades of making a living
surrounding himself with so much
sinisterism, people began suspecting Lee was actually a
practitioner of the black arts. It was even rumored
that Lee owned the largest collection
of books on the occult in the entire world. 20,000 books, to be exact. By the early 70s, Christopher
Lee was Draculaed out. He had played the count
nine times by 1973, and he wanted to break
out of the horror mold he had found himself typecast in. Then Lee met screenwriter
Anthony Shaffer. The two hit it off
and they decided to work on a project
together, something in the realm of horror, but
without the blood or gore. Shaffer came across
a novel called Ritual about the sacrificial
murder of a local child. Lee and Shaffer
paid 15,000 pounds for the rights of
the book, and Shaffer wrote the screenplay for
what would eventually become The Wicker Man. The only problem was
that the film’s budget was small, only 500,000 pounds. In 1973, 500,000 pounds was
a pretty good chunk of money, but with the way The
Wicker Man had to be shot, 500,000 pounds wasn’t
going to cut it. Lee was excited about
the script though. He loved the idea of starring
in a psychological thriller that wouldn’t require him
to wear capes or fangs. He loved the idea
of the movie so much he decided to forgo his paycheck
so that the film would have a little extra in its budget. If you’re the international
man of bad assery and darkness like
Christopher Lee, English is definitely
not your only language. Lee was fluent in
five languages, Italian, French, Spanish,
German, and obviously, mastered English to a
Shakespearean degree. He was also proficient in
Swedish, Russian, and Greek. Not only did his proficiency
in speaking German help him hunt down Nazis
during World War II, but it also allowed him to
dub the original voice of Thor in the Danish 1986
animated film Valhalla, and of King Haggard in both
the English and German versions of the 1982 animated
adaptation of The Last Unicorn. Even though Lee is considered
the master of the macabre, it doesn’t mean that he
didn’t have a humorous side. On March 25 in 1978,
he hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live. And in a 2005 interview
with Total Film, he said it was the greatest
thing he’d ever done. He was very funny in
every skit he was in, but his best bit was when
he introduced Meatloaf as the episode’s musical guest. Lee intentionally muffed
up Meatloaf’s intro, referring to him as Loaf. According to Lee, Meatloaf was
legitimately furious at him for disrespecting his name. Take a close look
at the cover art of Paul McCartney and the Wings
third album, Band on the Run. Does the guy in the back of the
photo at the 1 o’clock position look familiar? The photographer,
Clive Arrowsmith, admitted on his website that
Paul hosted quite the party for the participants
of the shoot. By the time Lee, Michael
Parkinson, Kenny Lynch, James Coburn, Clement Freud,
John Conte, and the band assembled for the
photo, they were in what Arrowsmith
called a substance haze. Arrowsmith rented
the wrong spotlight, he only brought
two rolls of film, the film was the wrong type
for the lighting conditions, and all of his subjects were
blitzed out of their skulls. They were so bombed and
having such a good time, Arrowsmith couldn’t
get them to stay still for the two seconds he
needed for the focused shot. They were laughing,
joking around, and kept falling
over each other. He finally instructed them to
either lean against the wall or hold onto each other
to keep their balance. While this might be
a lifelong highlight of an experience
for you or me, it was probably just another
day in the fascinating life of Christopher Lee. Christopher Lee died
in a London hospital on June 7, 2015
at the age of 93. His wife of 50 years, the former
Danish model Birgit Kroencke, was by his side. It’s said his passing
was a peaceful one. Calling someone the most
interesting man in the world is difficult. We’re
interested in what you think. Who do you think is the most
interesting man in the world and why? So thanks for watching. Let us know what you think
in the comments below. And while you’re at it, check
out some of these other stories on our weird history.

100 Comments

  1. NANNUJENN Author

    Sir Christopher Lee def deserved this place of honor. I wish i had met the man the myth the legend. Thank you for this. And i knew he made metal albums just didnt know it was more than one. Gonna go shop amazon now. Thanks.

    Reply
  2. Roger R. Author

    His coolest relative is by far Robert E. Lee and the only one worth a F&#K. He was the only one who actually fought for a honorable cause….. And I don't want to hear any of that slavery/racism bullshit, which had nothing to do with anything the South fought for. Robert E. Lee along with over 96% of the South never owned any slaves. That was just the lie told to justify destroying everything our forefathers fought for during the revolution and to get the brain-washed masses to agree to it.

    Reply
  3. humanoid prowler Author

    A real very interesting man i have a video of him in his home telling all about his movies and other things, so very interesting. A great man, R.I.P Sir Christopher Lee.

    Reply
  4. Arthur Trauer Author

    When I learn how much other people have accomplished, I sometimes feel like I’ve just stuck my toe into the river of life. I did a lot though and I did it with a half dozen birth defects and two chronic illnesses.
    It’s alright to do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt. Don’t ever feel you’re not as good as someone else. Living a good life takes bravery and integrity and doesn’t require a checklist of impressive feats, although I gotta say Christopher Lee’s life was pretty awesome and my world seems richer for having shared life with him and a lot of really incredible people. Good mini-bio, thanks.

    Reply
  5. goldenagenut Author

    Cool fact, Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff were the best of friends apparently and they lived in the same neighborhood, one house away from each other. …you realize what that means? It means that one incredibly amazingly lucky sob got to say, ' Yeah, Chrisopher Lee is my nextdoor neighbor, he lives there, and Boris Karloff is my next door neighbor right there on the other side.' ..!!!!!! Can you imagine?!? I'd be having bbqs every weekend!

    Reply
  6. Allen Lam Author

    I am seriously glad I watched this. I always liked Mr. Lee because, seriously, what reasonable person would not but, Lordy, what a story! I feel most entertained.

    Reply
  7. Novack Delvecchio Travel photographer & Vlogger Author

    when Lee, made the bond film , Ilan flemmind had already died . they didnt work together on the film. Flemind died 15 years earlier

    Reply
  8. Joseph Calderon Author

    Sir lee was an really accomplished multi-linguist, fluent in seven languages: italian,french,spanish,russian swedish,german,and greek!.

    Reply
  9. Baron Warborn Author

    Please cover Token. He wrote Lord of the vouchers, the hobbit toking on a spliff, and return of the man with small affections. Or Tolkein (TOLL-KEEN)

    Reply
  10. David Young Author

    I also like the story that Martin Scorsese told about directing Lee in the movie HUGO, and Lee telling Scorsese that he had actually visited the train station featured in the movie before World War II, possibly on the same trip that had seen him witness Eugene Weidmann's execution.  What a life!  If there should ever be a bio-pic about Sir Christopher Lee in the not-too-distant future, I would pick LUCIFER lead actor Tom Ellis to portray Lee (at 6'3", he could play the part with a little help from shoes!); that is, if he isn't cast as the new Doctor on Doctor Who once Jodi Whittaker finishes her run in the role!

    Reply
  11. Michael Davis Author

    I think that You are the most “interesting man in the world” simply because you have a habit of showing us “interesting men” of this world

    Reply
  12. Emilios Powerballer Author

    Christopher Lee never had an occult library of 20 000 books. He claimed, in an interview available on youtube, that although he possessed books of the occult, it was only 4. get your facts straight first

    Reply
  13. Dez Skinn Author

    Nice, albeit somewhat one-sided documentary. But the word is sec-ONDed, not second-ed (1:47) AND JRR Token? (8.18 and various following). Kinda undermines your documentary, not knowing how to pronounce such well known words (and obviously lacking an editor).

    Reply
  14. Billy Leroy Author

    It was an honor to meet SCL in 1990 in London at his Cadogan Sq apt…I was interested in Militaria and he showed me his collection…what stands out is him showing me his Fairbairn-Sykes commando dagger..great guy!

    Reply
  15. Aquarius Lady Author

    Wasnt it him in Lord of the Rings? He looks like the wizard turned evil character named Shalron..tho I may have the name misspelled.

    Reply
  16. krix pop Author

    Christopher Lee is Legendary !
    Seriously, he is re-playing his life on Legendary !
    (it seems that he is dissatisfied about that too, … so far …)

    Reply
  17. Jinn Mallik Author

    Hammer House of Horror a big thing back in the day my Older Brother would wake me together on our Black & White TV we did watch Dracula I remember a Hammer Production where a Evil Hand went round causing Death
    Always used to sit close to the TV with my Brother sometimes my sisters behind closing my eyes everytime Lee was about to rip a throat.

    Lee a Artist you look forward to seeing again a Actor hard to forget. Bringing Memories to Light a Brilliant Effort a Wicked Production.

    Reply
  18. Cordell Senior Author

    James Coburn … interesting MF. Phillip Seymore Hoffman was so … interesting. Benito Del Toro is one interesting MF. What about L. Oliver?

    Reply
  19. Felix Cat Author

    Thank you for this fascinating insight into one of the most well known and respected British actors.

    Your video was informative, interesting and entertaining, and ensured that I subscribed.

    Reply
  20. Martin McHugh Author

    The guy did everything. I was standing in a famous cheese shop in jermyn Street in London and there was a man standing behind me. It was Christopher Lee! I let him go first, and I did not even know what a top man he was.

    Reply
  21. Steve Kruhly Author

    This is Dr. G. Rex Kruhly. A master of the Quantum Field and student of older films. Thank you. Will watch him now with renewed respect.

    Reply
  22. Mimi Author

    I would truly enjoy seeing more of this type of bio. There accomplishments and interests. Thank you and your personal presentation is deluxe!!!

    Reply
  23. Mimi Author

    You did such a well rounded bio and with more uncommonly known facts about an actor I would very much enjoy the same with Orson Wells, Chuck Connors, Edgar Buchanan, Peter Jackson and the delightful Charles Coburn. And for women Greta Garbo, Doris Day, Betty White, Sophia Loren, Joan Fontaine, Penny Marshall, Jean Arthur and Irene Dunne. Going to subscribe and can't wait to see them. Will a week be long enough?? . Thank you!

    Reply
  24. Will Vanderbilt Author

    He was a really good guy who had a talent for playing really bad guys. He and Ricardo Montalban must be getting along wonderfully in the Great Beyond. Clear skies, Mr. Lee. 🇬🇧 ✝

    Reply
  25. Jane Pickford Author

    I was a huge fan of Christopher Lee. I was allowed to watch Hammer horror films as a young teen, some of the films listened to and peeked at from behind a cushion!

    Reply
  26. Ralph Furley Author

    Having watched a number of Christopher Lee’s Dracula movies as a child, I’ll will always be frightened of him!!! He played those villainous characters so well that he dwells in my nightmares!!! Rest In Peace Mr. Lee!!! ☮️🖖🏽

    Reply
  27. Adam Robb Author

    I think you should do a story on Captain Kidd. There hasn't been a pirate movie about him since 1944. Interestingly enough, he was a merchant marine captain hired by both governor's and lords and kings to hunt and capture pirates. According to the book Pirate Hunter, his men forced him to turn pirate because after many months at sea they hadn't found any pirates and supplies were getting low. This would also be cool cause I'm related. My mom's maiden name is Kidd and we've had it researched.

    Reply
  28. Sammie Jo Author

    I loved Christopher Lee, from all his Dracula movies, he had the best voice, the best on screen presence and a powerful character. Let's not mention, how funny he could be!! RIP, you classic prince..

    Reply
  29. roundsout155 Author

    As a kid watching his movies I thought he was a great Dracula the movies at spun off of his acting we're never quite the same there was something about how he looks into the camera it made you believe yeah I'm going to bite the hell out of you he had such an interesting life I want to go research some of those heavy metal songs I got to hear it but I've always loved him as an actor !

    Reply
  30. Earthdogbonzo3 Author

    Some people are chosen before being born. Fascinating actor, always knew who he was from those cheesy Hammer movies. But there was always a perception of something more . . .

    Reply
  31. Cheryll Lee Author

    Wow!! What an out standing life Lee had. He is the only actor that I heard of such wonderful things ' plus Royalty ' with in! And around his whole life. Now they say he is related to Robert E. Lee '! So am I.

    Reply
  32. Velda Wells Author

    An amazing multi-talented actor, musician and scholar. Adored his alluring, deep and gentile voice. What a colourful and long life he lead. Lee accomplished so much. Great ancester lineage. Wonderful researched insight. Thank you.

    Reply
  33. totallyfrozen Author

    He’s an example of what you can do with your life when you don’t waste your time trying to impress everyone else, being constantly preoccupied with sex, or listening to everyone else’s advice and opinions. Just find something worthwhile that you want to do, and go for it. He’s worthy of great respect.

    Reply

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