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 Saturday by Queen Elizabeth II.
Golfer Nick Faldo, captain of Europe's 2008 Ryder Cup team, also was 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 U.S. economist David Blanchflower, who accurately predicted Britain's recession during his tenure on the interest rate-setting committee at the Bank of England.
Lee joins chefs and poets
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 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."
More recent turns include the evil wizard Saruman in "The Lord of the Rings" movies and fallen Jedi Count Dooku in two of George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequels.
Faldo first picked up a golf club at age 14 and has gone on to win more than 40 tournaments. His six major victories include a triumph at the U.S. Masters in 1996 and the Nissan Open in 1997. The 51-year-old has since made a series of entrepreneurial moves — into fairground design and television commentary, among others.
Cumming was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE; Blanchflower and Sassoon were both made CBE.
Lee, Faldo and the rest are among 984 people honored in Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honors list.
How Britain bestows honors
In descending order, the main honors are knighthoods, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Officer of the Order of the British Empire and Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE.
Knights are addressed as "sir" or "dame," while recipients of CBEs, OBEs and MBEs have no title but can put the letters after their names.
The honors are bestowed twice a year by the monarch, but recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.
Although sportsmen, politicians, and artists regularly top the list, more than two-thirds of the honors go to people out of the limelight, especially civil servants and those with long service to their communities.
This year's recipients include a former elementary school janitor from Aberdeenshire in Scotland and an information desk assistant at Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland.