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Dracula

Screen legend Christopher Lee has died aged 93.

Christopher Lee, who made his name playing Dracula and Frankenstein in the Hammer horror films, appeared in more than 250 movies.

The English-born actor was best-known for his villainous roles – including Scaramanga in James Bond and evil wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings.

Christopher Lee’s other credits include The Wicker Man and Star Wars.

The veteran actor is reported to have died on June 7 at Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London, after being hospitalized for respiratory problems and heart failure.

A Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council spokesman said: “We can confirm that the Register Office issued a death certificate for Mr. Christopher Lee on Monday June 8, Mr. Lee died on Sunday June 7.”Christopher Lee dead at 93

Christopher Lee was knighted in 2009 for services to drama and charity and was awarded a BAFTA fellowship in 2011.

The British Film Institute (BFI) tweeted, as the news broke on June 11: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Sir Christopher Lee has passed away.”

Born into affluence in London in 1922, Christopher Lee traced his lineage to Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor.

After public school he served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War, where he was mentioned in dispatches.

Christopher Lee’s screen career began when he joined the Rank Organization in 1947, training as an actor in their so-called “charm school”.

His 6ft 4in frame and pointed features often typecast him as a bad guy. His distant cousin Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond books, wanted him to play Dr No in the film of the same name – but that role went to Joseph Wiseman.

Christopher Lee eventually starred as Scaramanga in 1974’s The Man With The Golden Gun.

He also played Fu Manchu in a series of films in the 1960s.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Star Wars prequels – in which he played the nefarious Count Dooku – were the most successful movies of his career from a commercial standpoint.

Christopher Lee also demonstrated his versatility in comedies like 1941 and Gremlins 2.

His other films included 1959’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Three Musketeers (1973), and Jinnah – which he considered to be one of his most important films (1997).

A lover of opera, Christopher Lee launched his singing career in the 1990s, with an album of Broadway tunes, including I Stole The Prince from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, and Epiphany from Sweeney Todd.

He also enjoyed an unlikely heavy metal career. In 2010, his album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross won a Spirit of Metal Award from Metal Hammer magazine.

Sir Christopher Lee marked his 92nd birthday by releasing an album of heavy metal cover versions.

Wojciech Kilar, who was BAFTA-nominated for his score to Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning film The Pianist, has died aged 81.

The Polish pianist and composer died in his hometown Katowice following a long illness.

“The power and the message of his music… will stay in my memory forever,” said Jerzy Kornowicz, head of the Association of Polish Composers.

Wojciech Kilar’s work as a film composer included Dracula and Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate.

Wojciech Kilar was BAFTA-nominated for his score to Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning film The Pianist

Wojciech Kilar was BAFTA-nominated for his score to Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning film The Pianist

Although he cited his first love as writing symphonies and concertos, he won worldwide attention as a film composer, writing scores for more than 130 films and working with celebrity directors such as Jane Campion (Portrait of a Lady) and Francis Ford Coppola.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula won Wojciech Kilar the best score composer award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 1992.

Francis Ford Coppola is understood to have given Wojciech Kilar a free rein to compose the score for Dracula, and it was reported that when the American director later asked Kilar what it took to write music like his, Kilar cryptically replied: “You need to live in Katowice.”

Born in 1932, Wojciech Kilar studied piano and composition in Poland, graduating from the State Higher School of Music, in Katowice, with top honors in 1955.

Inspired by the works of Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and fellow countryman Karol Szymanowski – Wojciech Kilar co-founded the Karol Szymanowski Society in 1977 – his work incorporated Polish folk songs and Catholic church music.