Lee the Legend



The long time film star, WWII elite, and heavy metal star Christopher Lee passed away this past summer, leaving journalists to recount his amazing life.

Bim Peacock, Literature Editor

Every legend comes to an end eventually, but for the best of them, that end does not come until their last breath is drawn.  Christopher Lee was perhaps one of the greatest-living legends of the past hundred years, ranging from a wild Nazi hunting career, to several published heavy metal albums, to his most renowned work as an actor in the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and James Bond Films.  The man knighted for his long and epic life finally drew it to a close this past June at the age of 93.

Lee began his journey in 1922 in the outskirts of London, where he was born to Contessa, his ex-model mother and direct descendant of the great ruler Charlemagne, and Geoffrey his well-decorated soldier father.  He enrolled at Wellington College to study classic literature, and soon earned a reputation as an expert fencer and hockey star, yet hit an all-but-dead-end with a job as a clerk afterwards.

Despite this bleak looking future, the call of war managed to reach Lee, and at age 18, he joined Finnish forces in the 1939 Winter War against Russia.  Apparently he got a good taste of action, for in the next year, he signed onto the Royal Air Force of Britain.  The man quickly proved himself, and soon was attached to the precursor Special Forces, known then as the Long Range Desert Group.  With his enormous amount of courage, Lee would sneak behind enemy lines to wreak havoc on the Luftwaffe forces, destroying their planes, airfields, and damaging their bases.  His astounding feats in battle earned him higher positions, from attachments to the SAS, to working alongside the elite Ghurka fighters, to his later assignment as a Nazi war-criminal hunter.  Such jobs were held so secret that, to this day, little is known of the truth of his military career.  His positions nearly killed him twice, and exposed him to a lifetime of horrors, but Lee was not to be daunted in his endeavors.  “I’ve seen many men die right in front of me – so many in fact that I’ve become almost hardened to it,” Lee once explained in an interview, “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.”

When the Second World War ended, Lee decided his days in violence were best left in the past, trying his hand in the realm of acting.  One would think he would be furthest from violence there, but apparently, horror had a desire for him, for the first major role he received was the part of Frankenstein’s Monster in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).  The crowds loved him, and within the next year, he had a decade-long career set up as Dracula on the TV show Horror of Dracula.  His life quickly filled up with all manner of horror movie roles.

His movie life only grew as time passed on.  In 1970, he appeared in the renowned director Steven Spielberg’s comedy 1941.  Four years later, he starred as the villain in Ian Fleming’s James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun.  This second performance one of his biggest ever, earned in no small part by his connection with Fleming himself, who fought alongside Lee during their special operations in WWII.  As 2000 rolled around, his career picked up once more as he was enlisted into several of the largest motion pictures of our generation, including two of the Lord of the Rings movies, The Hobbit, and the last two prequel movies to the Star Wars Saga.

Lee has achieved feats in acting that those of our own time can only wish for.  Credited for 274 roles (more than any other actor), praised for his keenness in performing all his own stunts (apparently he heavily injured his face after breaking headfirst through a window), recognized for appearing in more onstage duels than anyone else (it’s funny how college sports can come back around to help), and most interestingly, knighted for his extensive career in film, Sir Christopher Lee has surely earned a spot in the afterlife among the legends of literature and acting.

Despite what is obviously already a well-lived life, this is not the end to Lee’s awesomeness. Black Sabbath music of the 1970’s inspired this already-aging man to dabble in the art of Heavy Metal, and by 2006, almost 90 years old, he recorded his first heavy metal album Revelation.  Though never reaching extreme popularity, Lee must have drawn some attention, because he released yet another Heavy Metal album in 2010, Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, and within the same year, the popular band Manowar enlisted him to help them rerecord one of their older albums.  People loved to see the acting legend proving his talent yet again in a whole new genre, and in 2010 he was awarded with “The Spirit of Metal” award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods ceremony.  Lee’s last album was recorded only a year before he died.

Yes, Lee was a legend in the finest definition of the word.  From his days as a warrior in the battles of Europe, to his hobby of making music to an all too similar beat, to his knighthood on stage, this man truly set the precedent for greatness.  May he rest for an eternity with the legends of our world.