Swords-and-sandals epics, though, were beyond the resources of the the British film industry and the American one already had its Heston (his sinister eyebrows may also have presented problems, though not ones that couldn't have been tidied up). When Lee did go to Hollywood, in the late-1970s and when he was in his late fifties, it was too late: the mould had been cast. But those Dracula roles did have their compensations: good, predictable money, something not to be sniffed at for an actor.
He'd received some recognition before now (from today's report in the Telegraph):
His prolific career has seen him earn several Guinness World Records, including Most Connected Actor Living [?]; Most Films With A Swordfight By An Actor and Tallest Actor In A Leading Role (Lee is a lofty 6ft 5in).
Hardly what Ralphy, Johnnie and Larry would have aspired to though, is it? But in any event, a leading actor who's still around to recount anecdotes featuring the giants of the silver screen in its heyday deserves a K:
The actor joked about his time in the movie industry and held up his right hand to show his crooked little finger.
He joked: "That was done in a sword fight with Errol Flynn - after lunch. It nearly came off.
Which is what worries me a bit about some of these knighthoods. How many successful and expectant thesps - "ooh I'm glad - he really deserved that" - would have got diddly-squat if they hadn't managed to hang on as long as they did? I'm not saying these superannuated actors don't deserve it - far from it. I think the danger is they die before they come into their rightful gong. What if Mr Lee had died at the respectably old age of eighty-five (he's eighty-seven)? Nada, other than a crummy OBE.
Without question, now that the taboo about giving knighthoods to screen actors is long gone, Sir Christopher is richly deserving of his handle. Over his lifetime he must be a candidate for the hardest working screen actor: by the end of next year he will have appeared in a staggering 266 films dating back to 1948.
However, it's only in recent years that he's been given the opportunity to play some properly Hestonian, noble-browed, be-gowned roles, in Star Wars and most impressively in The Lord of the Rings: confirmation that he would have made a great Moses, back in the day (see above right). He provides a towering performance in this LotR scene, also featuring Sir Ian McKellan and Bernard Hill (shamefully edited out of the cinema release like another much less worthy one):
So let us congratulate this rather wonderful gentleman who now stands tall in the front rank of national treasures. Arise Sir Christopher! thriving and, thankfully, still undead.