Lee Van Cleef

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Lee Van Cleef

Born

1/9/1925, Somerville,New Jersey,USA

Died

12/16/1989

Birth Name

Clarence Leroy Van Cleef, Jr.

Gender

Male
8.7
out of 10
User Rating
14 votes

Biography

EDIT
Born into a farming family, Lee joined the Navy during World War II and originally intended to make accounting his profession. He joined up with a little theater group and eventually found his way into movie acting. His chiseled features and icy stares usually found him typecast as…more

Credits

Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Parents' names were Marion Lavinia and Clarence Leroy Van Cleef.

    • Van Cleef is buried in the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetary.

    • Van Cleef's family was of Dutch descent.

    • Lee once recorded a country song entitled "If All I Ever Do."

    • In real life, Lee was quicker on the draw with a gun than For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly co-star Clint Eastwood.

    • Director Sergio Leone wanted the original good, bad, and ugly (Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach) to make cameos in his spaghetti western epic, Once Upon a Time in the West. Van Cleef and Wallach were willing but Eastwood declined so they never appeared in the film.

    • Lee grew up in a farming family.

    • Lee did an interview with Entertainment Tonight about his career shortly before his death.

    • Lee appeared in an episode of Perry Mason entitled The Case of the Golden Oranges. His role was very small.

    • Lee was living in Oxnard, California at the time of his death. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetary in Hollywood.

    • Lee did a series of commercials for a potato chip company in the 80's parodying his villainous image.

    • Lee co-starred with Kurt Russell in Escape from New York.

    • Clint Eastwood recommended Lee to director Sergio Leone for the role of Colonel Mortimer in For a Few Dollars More after Jack Palance pulled out of the movie at the last minute.

    • Lee made two guest appearances on Rawhide with future spaghetti western co-star Clint Eastwood.

    • Lee appeared with former NFL stars Jim Brown and Fred Williamson in the 1974 film Take a Hard Ride.

    • Lee worked as an accountant for a while after leaving military service at the end of World War II.

    • Lee's third wife was named Barbara Havelone. He was married to her from 1976 until his death in 1989.

    • Lee starred in a short-lived series for NBC entitled The Master which aired in 1984.

    • Lee once seriously injured his leg while filming a movie. He carried a slight limp from this injury for the rest of his life.

    • After experiencing a career slump in the 1960's, Lee seriously considered giving up acting and going into the painting and interior design business. Then he was cast in For a Few Dollars More which re-ignited his career.

    • Lee had one green eye and one blue eye. This was corrected on-screen through the use of colored contact lenses.

    • Lee once appeared on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show as a carnival pickpocket.

    • There's a scene in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly where Lee's character slaps a woman. Lee really slapped her. The actress insisted he actually do it for the sake of realism.

    • Lee once played a real life gangster named Frank Diamond in an episode of The Untouchables entitled The Unhired Assassin.

    • Lee's character in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance got knocked out by John Wayne in a bar fight.

    • Director Sergio Leone cast Lee Van Cleef as Colonel Mortimer in For a Few Dollars More after Henry Fonda and Jack Palance had turned down the role.

    • Lee had three children by his first wife. Their names were Deborah, Alan, and David.

    • He served on board a Navy minesweeper during World War II.

    • Lee's first professional acting job was in a touring company of Mister Roberts.

    • Lee was missing the last joint of his middle finger. According to Hollywood legend he lost it in a bar fight but in reality he lost it building a playhouse for his daughter.

    • Lee played a homosexual gunman in the 1954 film noir classic The Big Combo.

    • Lee's film debut was in High Noon. He had no dialogue in this role but his looks got him attention.

  • Quotes

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