Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee Getty Images

Screen legend Sir Christopher Lee has died aged 93, his family says.

The actor, who was best known for iconic roles in Dracula, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars died in hospital on Sunday, according to The Telegraph.

He had been treated for respiratory problems and heart failure at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital over the past three weeks.

His first major break came as a Hammer Horror star in the 1950s but it was in the last 15 years of his career he made his name in blockbusters, as Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. His other memorable role was playing evil hit man Scaramanga in 1974 Bond film: The Man With The Golden Gun.

He also worked with Tim Burton, who cast him in films such as Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

His wife Birgit purposefully delayed published the news of his death in order to inform close family members first. They had been married for 50 years and had daughter Christina.

When once asked on the secret to a long and happy marriage, he replied: "Marry someone wonderful."

He was knighted in 2009 for services to drama and charity and was awarded a Bafta fellowship in 2011.

Friends and fans paid tribute to the much-loved actor whose stellar career included more than 200 films.

James Bond actor Roger Moore tweeted: "It's terribly when you lose an old friend, and Christopher Lee was one of my oldest. We first met in 1948."

Boris Johnson said: "Really sad to hear about the death of Christopher Lee, one of the greatest British actors and a master of the macabre."