Christopher Lee attends the world premiere of "Skyfall" at the Royal Albert Hall in London on October 23, 2012. Photo by Paul Treadway/UPI | License Photo
LONDON, June 11 (UPI) -- British actor Christopher Lee has died at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. He was 93.
The BAFTA-winning performer is best known for playing Count Dooku in the Star Wars films, the wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit blockbusters, the Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun and Lord Summerisle in the 1973 version of The Wicker Man. He also played Count Dracula in numerous Hammer Horror films in the 1950s and '60s. His other credits include the Tim Burton movies Alice in Wonderland and Sleepy Hollow.
Lee was due to start work later this year with Uma Thurman on The 11th about the lead-up to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America.
The Telegraph reported the screen icon had been treated for respiratory problems and heart failure over the past three weeks. The newspaper said he turned 93 in the hospital May 27 and died this past Sunday.
"The previous day, he had been with his family, laughing and joking as usual and watching the cricket. Despite his advanced age, his death was totally unexpected," said a news release issued by Charlemagne Productions, Ltd.
"In recent years, Sir Christopher walked with a cane, after an accident that left him with a damaged knee and vertebrae. He often refused to take painkillers because these affected his balance and slowed down his speech," the statement said. "As one of the hardest working actors on both sides of the Atlantic, Lee was unstoppable. When he was not working in movies, Sir Christopher was either recording voice-overs for games, helping raise money for UNICEF, doing concerts throughout Europe or recording heavy-metal albums. Lee fulfilled his ambition of living long enough to watch the last of the Hobbit movies and never retired."
He is survived by Gitte, his wife of more than 50 years, and their daughter Christina.