Lee passed away on Sunday (07Jun15) at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for three weeks. He had even celebrated his 93rd birthday in the facility on 27 May (15).

The actor is best known for playing Count Dracula in a string of Hammer Horror films, starting with 1958's Dracula, and he was also familiar to movie fans as evil wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises and Jedi baddie Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

His other notable roles include James Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun, creepy Lord Summerisle in 1973 horror The Wicker Man, and detective Sherlock Holmes in 1962 mystery Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace.

He also worked in music, releasing four albums, including heavy metal concept records Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross and Charlemagne: The Omens of Death.

Lee, who landed his first film role in 1948, received a knighthood for his services to drama and charity in 2009, and a BAFTA Fellowship lifetime achievement award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2011.

He most recently appeared in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which was released in 2014, and had signed on to film ensemble drama The 11th, co-starring Uma Thurman, which was due to begin filming in November (15).

Lee leaves his wife, former Danish model Birgit Kroencke, and their daughter Christina.