Christopher Lee died last Sunday. That’s worth noting in this blog simply because of his overwhelming geek credentials but ye gods, what a life. Because of his fluency in multiple languages he was set loose in Europe after WWII to hunt for Nazi war criminals that escaped the Allied net. As a lieutenant in the RAF’s intelligence division, he was the first Allied soldier to step into the Vatican after Rome was taken. Before WWII he went to Finland to join the fight in repelling Stalin’s hordes at the border. In the fifties, impressed by a series of books he had read, he sought out the author at his pub in Cambridge. The author’s name was JRR Tolkien. He was the step-cousin of, and served in the same unit, as Ian Fleming. Some say he was one of the inspirations for James Bond. At the age of 80 he did his own stunts in the Star Wars prequels. His WWII exploits still remain classified. He hosted Saturday Night Live. In the seventies. When it mattered. He played the villain Count de Rochefort with an eye patch in Richard Lester’s spectacular adaptation of The Three Musketeers (and of course, doing his own stunts). The eye patch is not in the books. Since then in every remake of that book, whoever plays Rochefort wears an eye patch. He was married for over fifty years at the time of his death.
Once in an interview he was asked about the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. He asked the reporter if he could keep a secret. The eager reporter said he could. “So can I,” the deep bass voice replied.
Tom Brokaw once called those that served in WWII the Greatest Generation. That might have been a bit of hyperbole but damn, Lee truly was one of the greatest. Rest in peace Sir Christopher. The world is a sadder and duller place without you but it is also a better place because of who you were.