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Lee Van Cleef Net Worth $2.5 Million

What was Lee Van Cleef’s net worth at the time of his death?

Lee Van Cleef was an American actor who had a net worth of $2.5 million at the time of his death. He played a villain in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. His piercing eyes and sharp features made him an ideal “bad guy.”

In 1966, he starred as the villainous Angel Eyes in the classic film – ”The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”

He was born on January 9, 1925, in Somerville, New Jersey, USA.

His parents were both of Dutch ancestry. In addition, Lee had distant German, English, Belgian (Flemish), Swedish, and French roots.

Van Cleef obtained his high school diploma at age 17, early in his senior year at Somerville High School.

From 1942-46, he served in the US Navy (during World War II). There, he was assigned to a submarine chaser and then to a minesweeper, USS Incredible.

 After World War II, Lee worked as an office administrator, becoming involved in amateur theatrics in his spare time.

First Film

lee van cleef net worth

ca.1960 – @Getty

In 1952, he got his first role in the Western classic – “High Noon” as the bad guy who died in the showdown gunfight with American actor Gary Cooper.

The plot of the film centers on a town marshal who is torn between his love for his new bride and his sense of duty as he must face a gang of killers alone.

It earned an estimated $3.4 million at the US box office in 1952.

High Noon was directed by Fred Zinnemann and produced by Stanley Kramer. John Wayne was originally offered the lead role in the High Noon.

lee van cleef net worth at death


Also in 1952, he appeared in Kansas City Confidential, a crime film directed by Phil Karlson. In the same year, Van Cleef appeared in the episode “Formula for Fear” of the Western aviation series Sky King.

In the follow-up year, Lee performed in Vice Squad, a film directed by Arnold Laven.

In 1955, Van Cleef appeared in Brave Eagle, a Western television series that aired on CBS. Later that year, he appeared in Annie Oakley, a TV series that fictionalized the life of the sharpshooter, Annie Oakley.

In 1959, he appeared as Luke Clagg in the episode “Strange Request” of the series Riverboat.

In 1960, he appeared in the Bonanza (an American Western TV series that ran from 1959 to 1973) episode, “The Bloodline.”

 In 1963, Van Cleef starred in “The Day of the Misfits” on the American Western television series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

lee van cleef cause of death

Lee Van Cleef in a scene from the film ‘The Good, The Bad And The Ugly’, 1966 – @Getty

In 1966, he starred in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, a Western film directed by Sergio Leone.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the last film in the Dollars Trilogy.

Upon release, the film received criticism for its depiction of violence. The film was a financial success, grossing more than $25 million at the box office.

It is an Italian-led production with co-producers in the United States, West Germany, and Spain.

Ennio Morricone composed the film’s score, including its main theme. Tonino Delli Colli was responsible for the film’s sweeping widescreen cinematography.

how tall was lee van cleef

Lee Van Cleeft and French starlet Elisabeth Juaret Browie – @Getty

Other stars from ”The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” are:

  • Eli Wallach;
  • Clint Eastwood.

It was released on VHS by VidAmerica in 1980.

In 1981, Lee appeared in the cult classic film Escape From New York.

In 1984, Van Cleef was cast as a ninja master in the NBC adventure series The Master.


On December 10, 1943, Lee married Patsy Ruth Kahle. They divorced in 1960.

On April 9, 1960, Van Cleef married Joan Marjorie Drane. The couple divorced in 1974.

On July 13, 1976, Lee Van Cleef married Barbara Havelone.

lee van cleef spouse

Lee Van Cleef and Barbara Havelone – @Getty

The couple was married until his death.


From his marriage to Patsy Ruth Kahle, Lee had three children:

  • David;
  • Deborah;
  • Alan.

With his 2nd wife, Joan Marjorie Drane, he had adopted a daughter named – Denise.

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Death & Cause Of Death

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He passed away in Oxnard, California, on December 16, 1989. He was 64. The cause of his death was a heart attack. His death certificate gave throat cancer as a secondary cause of death.

Van Cleef was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, with the following inscription on his grave marker:



Lee Van Cleef was 6′ 2″ (1.88 m) tall.


lee van cleef height and weight


“I look mean without even trying.”

”I don’t care where I work. Films are an international business – not an American institution.”

”Audiences just naturally hate me on screen. I could play a role in a tuxedo, and people would think I was rotten.”

”My story suddenly turned into a rags-to-riches saga. And just in time, too.”

”Being born with a pair of beady eyes was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

”Movies are full of leading men, most of whom aren’t working. It’s much harder to find a good villain.”

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what nationality is lee van cleef


He starred in two films nominated for Best Picture Oscar:

  • How the West Was Won (1962);
  • High Noon (1952).

In 1959, Van Cleef was involved in a car accident in which he lost his left kneecap.

He was portrayed as a bounty hunter in the Lucky Luke comic book “The Bounty Hunter.”

While building a playhouse for his daughter, Lee lost the tip of the middle finger on his right hand.

When performing in westerns, his characters often use customized firearms, such as pistols and rifles with increased ammo magazine, fire rate, precision, and additional muzzles.

Lee had been qualified for – the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.

He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and the Bronze Star.

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Net Worth

lee van cleef worth


So, how much was Lee Van Cleef worth?

Van Cleef earned most of his wealth from performing in 173 films over a 38-year span.

He was usually cast as a villain.

Some of the movies he starred in include the following – Thief of Fortune, Jungle Raiders, The Octagon, The Rip-Off, Escape from Death Row, Bad Man’s River, Commandos, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Bonanza, Gunfight in the OK Corral, The Vanishing American, Dawn to Socorro, Vice-Squad, and High Noon.

For appearing in Per qualche dollaro in più (1965), Lee received $17,000 (about $137,000 in the present day).

Therefore, at the time of his death, Lee Van Cleef had an estimated net worth of about $2.5 million.

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Frank Wilbrink

Saturday 15th of April 2023

Lee Van Cleef is one of my favorite actors. He worked hard his whole life to play in many films and became an icon for me. My favorite films are For a few dollars more and The good the bad and the ugly. Hope to visit his grave one day! Thanks for everything,my friend!

Jeff Moser

Friday 10th of February 2023

Lee Van Cleef was one of the most talented actors I have had the pleasure of watching, he was great in every movie he made. He could play any part and he played every part to perfection, he was believable in every part he played. There are not many actors you can say that about.


Monday 13th of June 2022

Very funny guy. Looked like he loved the bad guy make believe. Wish he did a mobster role or etc.

Joy O'Brien

Thursday 6th of January 2022

Lee Van Cleef was one of the most charismatic actor I've ever seen on screen. I agree with a former comment that it would have been great to see him in a gentle and romantic role. The closest to that was in one of the episodes in the Master. Very sad that he died so young. I feel that he so many more roles he could have excelled in. One of my favourite actors of all time.

Edmond Reginald Purnell

Sunday 26th of September 2021

a great actor, seen many of his films he had pure style about himself in the rolls he would play, better than most today modern actors 2021 guys. also could work with the best actors of his time easy he was one of the best.