Last week I took a walk to my local library (you know, the place that has books, movies, music, librarians) to check out what they had new in store. As I was chatting it up with the librarian, I asked about if she had heard about the passing of the great Sir Christopher Lee. She looked at me with a puzzled look and said,
'I don't know who that is'.
Me: 'You know 'Count Dracula', 'Frankenstein', 'The Mummy' from the classic Hammer horror film series……
Me: 'Francisco Scaramanga' from the 'Man With the Golden Gun',
Me: Saruman the White from 'The Lord of the Rings', Count Dooku...
Librarian: No, I can't say I know who that is.
I was stunned. Not angry, but stunned. Lee's film career spanned an incredible 8 decades and was known as the 'Master of Horror' sharing a birthday with another horror legend, Vincent Price. Lee had a very deep distinct voice and tall frame that could never be mistaken for anyone else. The Librarian was in her sixties so I was puzzled as how someone could not know who he was even if she had not seen any of the aforementioned films. He was not just an actor that was limited to one genre, he also played a variety of roles from Sherlock Holmes to Ramses. He was so incredibly talented and diverse that he was knighted in 2009 by Queen Elizabeth II.
Christopher Lee was the guy who I first watched as a 9 year old in the classic, 'Dracula Has Risen From the Grave' and I was just blown away at how terrifying this man truly was as the notorious blood sucker. No matter how many times they killed this fiend, he was always resurrected somehow and brought back to star in the countless sequels that Hammer Films churned out, and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. He was like a family member that always came to visit me on my small black and white television that sat in the corner of my parents basement. When Sunday afternoon hit, I was watching WUTV Buffalo 29 to await his visit and follow whatever adventure he took me on.
Even though Lee has departed from this world, he will always be there in the form of his 200 plus films that he leaves us with. And, like Dracula, he will always be coming back to greet us in the years to come. Thank you for all your incredible work and for creating some of the greatest moments in cinema that I enjoyed and for the many generations ahead that have yet to discover your true genius.
Dominick Petrungaro is an award winning photographer and pop culture enthusiast that resides in Toronto, Ontario Canada.