The BFI Inherit Christopher Lee’s Photo Archive

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If you’ve ever wanted to leaf through Christopher Lee’s scrapbooks, then you are (potentially) in luck, as the cult movie icon’s widow has gifted his entire archive to the British Film Institute’s national Archive. The collection spans sixty years of work, and includes three scrapbooks that Lee kept up to 1972 as a reminder of his work, with many rare images.

Lee’s widow, Gitte, said “It was a great joy and an honour for my husband when he was awarded the BFI Fellowship in recognition for his lifelong contribution to the industry. I am therefore delighted that the BFI are helping to preserve the heritage of his legacy, by bringing Christopher’s photographic archive into the BFI National Archive. I am immensely proud of my husband’s achievements. One of Britain’s best-loved actors, he was a man who entertained audiences worldwide for more than 60 years. It gives me great pleasure that his photos will be seen and appreciated for generations to come.”

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Nathalie Morris, Senior Curator – Special Collections, BFI added, “We’re delighted to have been entrusted with this marvellous group of photographs which were collected and kept by Christopher Lee, one of the all-time cinema greats. These images wonderfully demonstrate Lee’s versatility and charisma as an actor, taking us on a journey from his early small parts through to his starring roles and then beyond, as directors sought him out for high profile supporting roles and cameos. The albums are fascinating for being assembled by Lee himself, especially as they also include his occasional, wryly-observed, comments. The BFI National Archive is incredibly grateful to Lady Lee for this generous donation.

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The collection joins others from luminaries such as Alfred Hitchcock, Alan Parker, David Lean and Dirk Bogarde, securely kept at the BFI National Archive John Paul Getty Jnr Conservation Centre in Berkhamsted, where researchers will be able to view it by appointment, once it has been digitised and catalogued.