Category: Books

“Lord of Misrule”: Christopher Lee’s Danish connection (2003)

Three years ago on this day, June 7th 2015, legendary English actor Sir Christopher Lee passed away aged 93.

His film career spanned 70-plus years and several hundred parts, one of which was of course Francisco Scaramanga in EON's James Bond 007 film "The Man with the Golden Gun" (1974). Christopher Lee also had the distinction of being Bond creator Ian Fleming's step cousin.

Christopher Lee's autograph, given to Bond•O•Rama.dk in London 1997 at the HMV book signing of Lee's memoirs (first edition of "Tall, Dark and Gruesome")
Christopher Lee had ties to Denmark as well through his wife of 54 years, the artist and ex-model Birgit "Gitte" Krøncke. On pages 196-199 of his memoirs "Lord of Misrule", published in 2003 by Orion Publishing, Christopher Lee recounts his first date with Gitte Krøncke in 1960, their first Christmas together in Copenhagen, their eventful engagement night at the Tuborg brewery, and their visit at film distributor Preben Philipsen castle Nakkebølle on Funen:

"My wife does not care for golf and she cannot hold a tune. All the same, without golf and music we should never have met. The chain of causes which led to my marriage began with my friend Lionel Stubbs. We often went round the course together, and even more often I dropped into his flat next door to chat about golf and what the RAF was up to. One evening Lionel had a Danish friend with him who like himself was 'in hides and skins'. When the topic of tanners and trappers had given out, the Dane and I discovered a common passion in music.

Harry Rabinowitz (namesake of the conductor) had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music - in fact he wrote an encyclopaedia. I cannot 1:,1 horn the technicalities. If somebody talks about the magnificent bowing and fingerwork, it is lost on me. Triple tonguing and pedal work are closed books to me. But Harry was uncanny. He not only knew all that but he could recognize any singer and give you his name, the label on the record and its number. He'd published a catalogue of pre-electric recordings. I used to test him on obscure Romanian tenors and so forth. We sat for hours together, engrossed, and soon had a rapport so close that his Brooklyn-born wife Sandy ironically suggested we ought to get married.

I replied that there was no bar in my case, since I was single. They both stared at me as if they had thought I had a secret wife. 'You're not married?' they exclaimed in unison. Married people cannot bear anybody to remain in a single state. In no time they were snowing me with comments on a dazzling Dane they knew who was the one person in the world for me. She was twenty-five and they couldn't bear her being single either. Her name was Birgit Kroencke and everyone knew her as Gitte. She was a daughter of the director of the Tuborg brewery in Copenhagen. She was a painter. She was a model who'd worked for Balmain, Balenciaga and Dior. They showed me radiant pictures to prove it. The red hair, the green eyes, the feline elegance, all haunted me. I avowed a half-wish to meet this paragon.

Having softened me up, they busily snowed Gitte, telling her the one person in the world for her was dying to meet her, and extolled me as a noble kind genius. They showed her a non-Hammer photograph and she said indifferently, 'That's a reasonably normal-looking man,' and tried to get on with her life. They gave her my address and number in London and when she flew over for a dance told me I must wait in for her call. I did what I had never done for any woman - I gave up my golf that Sunday and waited by the phone. The call never came. I said loudly, 'That's that!' Then I added, 'I've finished with this woman and never want to meet her again.'

Lee signed the back of a postcard depicting the English theatrical poster for "The Man with the Golden Gun" (1974)

Read More