3 February 2015

He will always be very much in my heart

I am not a fan of horror films and in fact never watch them. However, when I was in my teens I did watch the occasional horror film, and the ones that I remember best are the Dracula-films starring Christopher Lee as the bloodsucking Hungarian count (these were British horror films made by Hammer Film Productions). Christopher Lee is regarded today as one of the true icons of classic horror cinema, along with actors such as Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price. Lee's favourite actor and role model was Boris Karloff, who is best known for his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster in a number of Frankenstein-films from the 1930s.

On 5 February 1969 --three days after Boris Karloff had died at age 81-- Christopher Lee (then 46 years old) wrote a letter to Karloff's widow Evelyn, offering his condolences on the death of her husband. In the letter, Lee talks about his admiration for Karloff whom he had looked up to ever since he was a little boy. He also mentions Karloff's kindness --in contrast to his on-screen monster persona, Karloff was a very gentle and amiable man--and the fact that he was privileged to have worked with his idol (i.e. they played together in two films, "Corridors of Blood" (1958) and "Curse of the Crimson Altar" (1968)). Lee's handwritten letter to Evelyn Karloff is shown below.

Boris Karloff with wife number five, Evelyn Hope Helmore, whom he married in 1946.
Image: heritage auctions/ reproduced with permission

Transcript:

45 Cadogan Square

5th February

My dear Evie.

I know words + phrases are somehow rather inadequate to express my feelings.
The affection + the admiration that I felt for Boris were + always will be boundless.
From the days when I was a small boy he was always my favourite and he always remained so. I never thought that one day that I would actually meet him, let alone work with him. The fact that I did both these things will always remain a highlight of my life in every way. He was wonderfully kind to me and he will always be very much in my heart.
As the world knows, he was a superb actor- and those of us who knew him and felt for ourselves his kindness, gentleness and humour will always be greatly privileged. I pray God I can follow his example.
Please contact me if there is anything at all you need.

My love for you
Christopher

On the set of "Curse of the Crimson Altar" (1968) with, on the right, Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff (seated).

1 comment:

  1. I have a copy of that lovely sweet letter Sir Christopher wrote to Evie, Christopher is a generous kind hearted actor, i have 1 of his Gala suits and i will treasure it all my life has i have been a number 1 fan of Christopher's since 1958, i miss him so much i am still trying to get to terms with his death its been a shock to me.

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