Ever seen the epic 1966 Italian western thriller, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ? If so, you would surely remember Lee Van Cleef playing the role of the bad guy (Angel Eyes) in the critically acclaimed film. The film, which also stars Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach, received positive reviews and put Van Cleef in the spotlight.
Additionally, the actor continued to score more interesting roles in epic films in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s before his sudden death in 1989. The film icon is said to have died of cardiac arrest at his California home at the age of 64. Although it has been over three decades since his death, Lee Van Cleef’s legacy lives on and his life has inspired several contemporary films. It will be interesting to find out more about this late actor. Below is everything you need to know about Lee Van Cleef.
Lee Van Cleef – Bio
It was on January 9, 1925 that the actor was born Clarence LeRory Cleef Jr. to Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef Sr and his wife Marion Lavina Van Fleet. Although Van Cleef was born in Somerville, New Jersey, he is of Dutch descent. He spent his early years in New Jersey, where he graduated from Somerville High School at the age of 17.
Soon after graduating, the actor enlisted in the United States Navy in September 1942. Prior to enlistment, Van Cleef attended the Naval Fleet School and upon graduation he was assigned to a submarine chaser. He then worked as a sonarman on the minesweeper USS Incredible.
During his active service years, Cleef participated in several operations during World War II. When he was discharged in 1946 he had achieved the rank of Sonarman First Class (SO1). He was also honored with the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and many other awards.
Movies and TV Shows
Not long after Lee Van Cleef left the US Navy, he ventured into acting. thus earning his first role in the production of the play, Our Town at the Little Theater Group, New Jersey. He then played a few roles in plays such as Mr. Roberts and Heaven Can Wait before making his big screen debut in 1952. His first on-screen role was in western film. noon His impressive performance drew his attention to top filmmakers who later offered him roles in their films.
From 1953 to 1965, the actor appeared in a handful of films, including For A Few Dollars More, How the West Was Won, Pose From Hell, and Bad Man’s Day. Others are Raiders of Old California, The Conqueror, The Vanishing American, The Desperado, and The Beast of 20,000 Fathoms, among others.
Lee Van Cleef got his breakout break after appearing in 1966’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly He portrayed the role of Angel Eyes (The Bad) in the film alongside Eli Wallach and Clint Eastwood. In the latter part of his career, Lee Van Cleef appeared in over 30 films from 1967 to 1988, Death Rides a Horse, The Grand Duel, Sabata, The Return of Sabata and Kid Vengeance , among others. His last film appearance was in 1988 when he played the role of Sergio Danielo in Thieves of Destiny.
The actor also shaped television and played in numerous television series during his active years. Some of his popular works include The Range Rider, Sky King, The Man Behind the Badge, Zoro, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Branded, and The Hard Road He was last seen in the NBC TV series, The Master in 1984.
Lee Van Cleef’s Family: Spouse and Children
Lee Van Cleef was married three times in his lifetime. His first marriage was to a woman named Patsy Ruth. The duo were hanged in 1943 and a few years later they went their separate ways in 1960. Their union produced three children; two sons named Alan Van Cleef (b. 1947) and David Van Cleef (b. 1960) and a daughter named Deborah Van Cleef (b. 1948).
Shortly after their divorce, Van Cleef also got married a second time, this time to Joan Marjorie Drane. His second marriage lasted 14 years and they went their separate ways in 1974. Their union produced a daughter named Denise Van Cleef. His third and last wife was Barbara Havelone, whom he married in 1976. The couple was still together until his sudden death in 1989.
Wealth (income and earnings)
For someone like Lee Van Cleef, who boasts an impressive resume with an acting career that spanned three decades. One would expect nothing less than tremendous financial value. Therefore, it is not surprising that the actor’s net worth has been put at $2 million. He made his fortune from his films and television appearances, as well as other business ventures.