Today is the 89th birthday of Sir Christopher Lee. Though a lot of younger people now know him for his role as Saruman in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, I am fond of him for his portrayal of Count Dracula in the old Hammer films.
I will admit that when I was much younger I liked Bela Lugosi's version of Dracula a lot more than Christopher Lee's. I blame this on the fact that the first version of Dracula I ever saw was Christopher Lee in Count Dracula (1970). He so terrified me that I refused for years to watch another film with him as Dracula. It wasn't until my twenties that I came to appreciate Christopher Lee in the iconic role.
Eventually it was Christopher Lee's portrayal that had the biggest influence on my own version of Count Vlad Dracula in THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE. One of the things that irked me about Lee's Dracula when I was younger was that he never kissed the girls. He would always turn their heads and bite them. When I grew older, I came to understand the dangerous sexual power of the vampire. The women desired his love only to be killed.
Christopher Lee's appearance also had a huge impact on my version of Count Dracula. It is uncanny how much he resembles the real Vlad Tepes. It was his appearance as Vlad Tepes in the documentry In Search of Dracula that gave me a clearer vision of what my own Count Dracula would look like.
Christopher Lee has had quite an amazing career. His voice is low, powerful and a little frightening and he has done a lot of voice work over the years . He has appeared in low budget horror films and epic blockbusters. He is famous for his role as Dracula and his interest in the occult has been life long. Though he played a character charged with sexual charisma and the seducer of many young, nubile women, Christopher has been married to his wife since 1961. He was also knighted and is officially Sir Christopher Lee.
I won't lie. Though my heart is broken that I will never meet Bela Lugosi, I hold onto a shred of hope that I may one day manage to make it to a convention where Christopher Lee is attending. Despite the role of Dracula being played by other actors since Lee's reign, he is still the pop culture representation of this epic figure.
Happy Birthday, Christopher Lee!!