Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was perhaps the only actor of his generation to have starred in so many films and cult saga.
Lee was born in 1922 in London, England, where he and his older sister Xandra were raised by their parents, Contessa Estelle Marie (Carandini di Sarzano) and Geoffrey Trollope Lee, a professional soldier, until their divorce in 1926.
Later, while Lee was still a child, his mother married (and later divorced) Harcourt George St.-Croix (nicknamed Ingle), who was a banker.
Lee had numerous parts in film and television throughout the 1950s.He struggled initially in his new career because he was discriminated as being taller than the leading male actors of his time and being too foreign-looking.However, playing the monster in the Hammer film The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) proved to be a blessing in disguise, since the was successful, leading to him being signed on for future roles in Hammer Film Productions.Lee's association with Hammer Film Productions brought him into contact with Peter Cushing, and they became good friends.After attending Wellington College from age 14 to 17, Lee worked as an office clerk in a couple of London shipping companies until 1941 when he enlisted in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
Following his release from military service, Lee joined the Rank Organisation in 1947, training as an actor in their "Charm School" and playing a number of bit parts in such films as Corridor of Mirrors (1948).He made a brief appearance in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948), in which his future partner-in-horror Peter Cushing also appeared.Both actors also appeared later in Moulin Rouge (1952) but did not meet until their horror films together.Lee and Cushing often than not played contrasting roles in Hammer films, where Cushing was the protagonist and Lee the villain, whether it be Van Helsing and Dracula respectively in Dracula (1958), or John Banning and Kharis the Mummy respectively in The Mummy (1959).Lee continued his role as "Dracula" in a number of Hammer sequels throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s.During this time, he co-starred in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), and made numerous appearances as Fu Manchu, most notably in the first of the series The Face of Fu Manchu (1965), and also appeared in a number of films in Europe.