New Delhi, June 12: From my earliest childhood memories, one image which remains etched deep within my subconscious is that of the foreboding aura of Dracula. The feared vampire of Bram Stoker’s eponymous novel was brought alive on screen in 1958 by the legendary Christopher Lee - an actor who defined the horror genre in cinema. It was in 1957 that a 35-year-old Lee was cast in Hammer Film Productions’ “The Curse of Frankenstein” as Frankenstein’s monster - the character which was destined to attain immortality in the anls of horror cinema. The charismatic actor passed away on Sunday at the age of 93 in London after suffering respiratory and heart problems.
As a fan, Lee’s death came as a shock as since I had long revered the veteran actor for his versatility and pache. With his impeccable portrayals of Frankestein’s monster and Dracula, the actor had become a household me in the horror genre and had developed an enviable fan following in India and across the globe. Born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee in London on May 27, 1922, the actor had an illustrious career which spanned nearly 70 years. His towering persolity - he was 6' 4" - distinguished good looks and rich baritone made him an enviable and respectable figure in Hollywood. Lee had a predilection for the sinister and macabre, as he admitted being “fascited by the ture of evil” during a 2003 interview.
“There is something sad about malevolence, to be wicked,” the “Lord of the Rings” actor was quoted as saying in the interview with the Guardian. Although cinephiles fondly remember the actor for his portrayal of Dracula, Lee’s first break came in Terence Young’s 1948 drama “Corridor of Mirrors”. He played secondary and anonymous characters in various low-budget films for 10 years before finding his mark in the industry. As the years passed, Lee’s acting career took even a bigger curve as he branched out to play several memorable roles. If he was famous for portraying Dracula and Frankenstein’s creature in the late 1950s, he attained fame in the 1960s as Fu Manchu, in the 1970s as the pagan Lord Summerisle “The Wicker Man” and Scaramanga in Bond-movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” and in the 2000s as the evil wizard Saruman in “The Lord of the Rings”. (IANS)