Legendary actor Christopher Lee dies aged 93
Christopher Lee has died at the age of 93 after he was hospitalised with breathing and heart problems.
The veteran actor's family announced the news today and the much-loved star's loss is already being keenly felt across the globe.
Lee's career began in the 1940s and he became a star in the 1950s and '60s when he was a staple of the Hammer horror movies, chiefly in the role of Dracula in a host of movies.
By the 1970s he had left that work behind to appear in such classics as The Wicker Man and The Man With The Golden Gun.
The last two decades of his career were arguably his most succesful as he became a household name via his role as Saruman in the Lord of the Rings franchise as well as his turn as Count Dooku in the more recent Star Wars flicks.
He never stopped working and only last year marked his 92nd birthday by releasing a heavy metal version of the Frank Sinatra classic My Way.
It was one of seven tracks on an album called Metal Knight he recorded with an Italian band called Rhapsody Of Fire.
Two years ago he was honoured with a fellowship from the British Film Institute presented by his friend Johnny Depp.
Depp, who has worked with Lee on several Tim Burton projects including Sleepy Hollow, sneaked into the awards ceremony to surprise his friend.
Lee has amassed more than 250 screen credits, including his vampire appearances, his role as sinister Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man and his collaborations with Burton.
He has often said that his title role in Jinnah, about the founder of Pakistan, is one of his favourite portrayals.
His Lord Of The Rings co-star Dominic Monaghan paid tribute, saying: "So so sorry to hear that Christopher Lee has passed away. He was a fascinating person. Threw a bic pen into a tree in front of me".
Actor Reece Sheersmith said: "Very upset to learn that Sir Christopher Lee has passed away. An amazing gentleman who brought us so many iconic roles. He will be missed."
Jonathan Ross said: "So sad to hear that Sir Christopher Lee has died. A great actor, a great star, a surprisingly good singer and a lovely lovely man."