During the golden era of the 1960s, Lee Van Cleef was a superstar, starring in some of the most popular and successful films of the time. He was an American actor who played various roles, including minor villains in several Westerns. He also appeared in several of the most popular television series of the time, including Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Magnificent Seven Ride, and Escape from New York. He also appeared in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Lee Van Cleef was born on January 9, 1925, in Somerville, New Jersey. He was the son of Marion Levinia (née Van Fleet) and Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef Sr. He attended Somerville High School and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Good Conduct Medal. He also received a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.
Lee Van Cleef began his acting career with small roles in a few films, including High Noon and Formula for Fear. He later appeared in television series, such as Vice Squad, Sky King, and Brave Eagle. He also worked as an accountant. He was married to Patsy Ruth Kahle and Joan Marjorie Drane. His third wife, Barbara Havelone, survived him until his death.
Throughout his career, Van Cleef played a variety of characters, including minor villains, henchmen, and anti-heroes. He also played a ninja master in NBC’s adventure series The Master. In addition, he starred in several westerns, including Cimarron City, Sheriff of Cochise, and Laramie. He also appeared in the syndicated crime dramas Have Gun – Will Travel and Colt.45. He also starred in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western For a Few Dollars More. His role in this film helped him become a box-office draw in Europe. He also appeared in films like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Day of Anger, and Take a Hard Ride.
Although he was an actor, Lee Van Cleef also served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, as a sonarman. He was awarded the Bronze Star, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and Good Conduct Medal. He also earned the rank of First Class Sonarman. He also served as a submarine chaser. He briefly worked as an accountant after his Navy service.
He began his career by performing in regional theatres. He eventually was cast in the play “Mister Roberts.” He was offered a role in the movie “For a Few Dollars More” by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone. He also appeared in the NBC series Cimarron City, and had a guest role in “Have Gun – Will Travel,” “Colt.45,” “The Sheriff of Cochise,” and “Laramie.” He later appeared in The Good, the Bad and the Umgly, and The Road to Denver. He died on December 16, 1989 in Oxnard, California. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California.
Lee Van Cleef is survived by his four children. His wife is Barbara Havelone, who stayed with him throughout his career. In addition, he is survived by his children from his previous marriages, Patsy Ruth Kahle, Joan Marjorie Drane, and David Van Cleef.