I first saw Christopher Lee in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch." He played the comically serious mad scientist Dr. Catheter, who ran the genetics laboratory Splice-O'-Life in the mall-like Clamp Center office building. I was about 10 years old. When I saw his name in the credits, I was thinking perhaps that it was another relative of Bruce Lee. That was quickly put to rest.
My father showed me clips of some of the old Hammer Horror films of which he had been a fan growing up. I had a harder time getting into them, but I was still captivated by Lee.
That started the next few years of watching various thing, none of which I remember clearly, but saying "Oh look, it's Christopher Lee again."
By the time I saw his turn as Saruman in "Lord of the Rings," he had become one of my favorite performers of all time.
When I found out he was cast in Star Wars, I was over the moon.
He always gave a commanding performance in everything I've seen him in. Looking at his life, he became someone to look up to.
I guess I knew in my mind that he wouldn't be around forever, and his overall health had been declining for some time, but to have someone as active and accomplished in life as him simply pass so suddenly (well, as suddenly as one can at 93) brings home the inevitability of mortality.
But as sad as I am that Sir Christopher's life and career has come to an abrupt end, the best thing I can do is revel in his impressive body of work and strive to be even a fraction as professional, gentlemanly, and achieved as our stalwart star of the silver screen.
Sir Christopher Lee, I salute you:
For another fan's perspective, read Lazy-Padawan's tribute.
Many people he has worked with, of whom I am also fans, have given quite an outpouring, but for me the one that sums it up best is Peter Jackson's Facebook Post
Finally, for more trivia and info on the man himself, there's really no better place than his TVTropes entry.