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 a bad guy. After a career slump in the early 60's which saw him reduced to taking bit parts on shows such as Andy Griffith and Perry Mason, Lee's career was re-ignited when he was cast as one of the leads in Sergio Leone's spaghetti western For a Few Dollars More. This led to numerous other lead roles in spaghetti westerns and made Van Cleef an international star.
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