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LOTR's Christopher Lee Holds A Record For Playing This Horror Classic

The old-school horror film genre is filled with many classic actors and the roles they defined — Max Schreck as the vampire Nosferatu, Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster and the Mummy, and Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man, to name a few. Luckily, monster movies continued to thrive as films evolved from black-and-white to color presentations, giving actors like Christopher Lee the opportunity to play not only Dracula but Frankenstein's monster and the Mummy for a whole new generation.

Lee, as well as his frequent co-star, Peter Cushing, brought us Hammer Horror, a genre unto itself named for films produced by Hammer Film Productions, a British production company located in London. As demonstrated in his credits, Lee generally played the monsters in the film productions, while Cushing frequently played human counterparts like Dr. Victor Frankenstein and vampire hunter Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. And while fans may identify Lee for playing the trio of iconic monster characters for Hammer Horror, one particular role stands above the rest when it comes to the frequency in which he reprised the role.

Christopher Lee has played Count Dracula more than any actor in history

While fans most often identify Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, Christopher Lee has played the character more times than any other actor. After Lugosi originated the role for Universal Studios in 1931 after a run of the character on the Broadway stage, Lugosi only reprised his iteration of the character once in the comedy-slash-monster mash "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" in 1948.

Lee has played Dracula seven times starting with "Horror of Dracula" in 1958. A number of years passed before Lee reprised the role in 1966 for "Dracula: Prince of Darkness," which was followed by "Dracula Has Risen from the Grave" in 1968, "Taste the Blood of Dracula in 1970, "Scars of Dracula" in 1970, and "Dracula A.D. 1972," released, naturally, in 1972. Lee gave his final performance as the character in "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" in 1973.

Thanks, in part, to the legacies created by Lugosi and Lee, Bram Stoker's iconic Dracula character has been adapted many more times since the 1970s. Among the many actors who have embodied the legendary vampire on the silver screen are Jack Palance, Frank Langella, Gary Oldman, Gerard Butler, and Luke Evans.

Christopher Lee appeared as Dracula one more time on the big screen in 2012

Count Dracula, of course, was one of the many memorable characters Christopher Lee played during his illustrious career that spanned nearly seven decades, including James Bond's nemesis Francisco Scaramanga in "The Man with the Golden Gun." Later in his career, Lee famously embodied two classic villains: Saruman the White in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and Count Dooku-slash-Darth Tyranus in the last two films in the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy.

After that, Lee's version of Dracula showed up in one more movie. In 2012, the actor's frequent collaborator, director Tim Burton, inserted a live-action scene of Lee as the Prince of Darkness into his black-and-white stop-motion monster movie "Frankenweenie." In a nostalgic scene, "Frankenweenie's" main character, Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan), watches a Dracula movie starring Lee on TV, alongside his parents and pet dog, Sparky.

Lee passed away of natural causes in 2015 at the age of 93.