Lee Van Cleef Overview:

Character actor, Lee Van Cleef, was born Clarence Leroy Van Cleef Jr. on Jan 9, 1925 in Somerville, NJ. Van Cleef died at the age of 64 on Dec 16, 1989 in Oxnard, CA and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills) Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA.


Lean, dark-haired, narrow-eyed American actor, almost entirely confined to westerns. After he switched to acting instead of taking over his father's accountancy business, he spent more than a decade in films as ugly villains (with the occasional American Indian thrown in) with itchy trigger fingers. Then he lost his hair, grew a mustache and, recovered from a severe car crash in 1959, pleasantly surprised his fans by becoming a star of spaghetti westerns in the wake of Clint Eastwood. Died from a heart attack.

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Film Character Actors: an Illustrated Directory).



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Lee Van Cleef Quotes:

Train Conductor: Hey, Mister, you just can't pull the emergency cord and jump off! Tell me, why did you stop that train? If you wanna get off, you're...
[looks at Mortimer's gun]
Train Conductor: Well, the railroad company would might be pleased to make any arrangements for any passenger, if you wanna get off, Dear Sir.
Col. Douglas Mortimer: I did get off. Thanks.

[Indio and his gang have been dispatched]
Col. Douglas Mortimer: My boy, you've become rich.
Monco: You mean *we've* become rich, old man.
Col. Douglas Mortimer: No, it's all yours. I think you deserve it.
Monco: What about our partnership?
Col. Douglas Mortimer: [smiles] Maybe next time.

Tony Romano: It don't take no big thinking to figure a couple of guys like us ain't in this bananaville on a vacation!

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Lee Van Cleef Facts
According to the book "Weird NJ" (Sceurman, Mark and Mark Moran, Barnes and Noble Books, 2004 ISBN 0-7607-3979-X) he was a descendant of the Morris County Van Cleefs who were infamous in the area for their strange living and "procreational" efforts. In fact, one trait that Lee had was that he had one green eye and one blue eye. According to the book, "this telltale characteristic was corrected in the movies with colored contact lenses".

Producer Stuart Cohen recently revealed that Van Cleef was considered for the role of Garry in John Carpenter's The Thing (1982), since Carpenter had recently worked with him on Escape from New York (1981).

He was involved in a car accident in 1959 in which he lost his left kneecap. Doctors told him he would never be able to ride a horse again because of the injury. Within six months he was back in the saddle.

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