Arise, Sir Dracula! Actor is knighted

Associated Press / June 13, 2009
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LONDON - The Lord of the Undead is now a knight of the British Empire.

Christopher Lee, whose sonorous voice and burning black eyes made him a memorable arch-villain in films from "Dracula" to "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith," was given one of Britain's highest honors today by Queen Elizabeth II.

Golfer Nick Faldo, captain of Europe's 2008 Ryder Cup team, was also promoted to "sir." He can add the title to his six major championship wins.

Among the others receiving royal honors:

Tony-award winning actor Alan Cumming, for his work in films such as "X2: X-Men United" and his gay rights advocacy; celebrity hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, who lent his name to a worldwide brand of shampoos and salons; and US economist David Blanchflower, who accurately predicted Britain's recession during his tenure on the interest rate-setting committee at the Bank of England.

Celebrity chef Delia Smith, whose recipe books adorn kitchens around the world, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, for her help in teaching the country how to cook.

Poetry also got a boost, with Andrew Motion and Christopher Ricks both awarded knighthoods.

Motion was Britain's Poet Laureate for a decade until he was replaced by Carol Ann Duffy earlier this year. Ricks steps down from his post of Oxford Professor of Poetry later this year.

Lee, 87, who made his name in Britain's low-budget Hammer Studios horror films, is one of cinema's consummate bad-guys, appearing as everything from Bond villain Scaramanga in "The Man With the Golden Gun" to the disreputable Russian mystic in "Rasputin, the Mad Monk."