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(NEWSER) – RIP, Saruman. Sir Christopher Lee, the English actor who played the Lord of the Rings villain as well as other iconic roles, died Sunday at age 93. Lee had been hospitalized in London for respiratory problems and heart failure, and his wife of more than 50 years waited a few days to release the news so family could be told first, the Guardian reports.

Lee started working in film in 1947, and in the 1950s he started working in Hammer Horror films and gained notoriety. Most famously, he played Dracula—and though he was well-known for the role, he once complained in 2005, "They gave me nothing to do! I pleaded with Hammer to let me use some of the lines that Bram Stoker had written. Occasionally, I sneaked one in. Eventually I told them that I wasn’t going to play Dracula anymore. All hell broke loose.”

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PHOTO: Everett Collection