Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$2 Million
Jan 9, 1925 - Dec 16, 1989 (64 years old)
6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Actor, Soldier, Accountant
United States of America
💰 Compare Lee Van Cleef's Net Worth

What Was Lee Van Cleef's Net Worth?

Lee Van Cleef was an American actor who had a net worth of $2 million at the time of his death in 1989. Lee Van Cleef was known for his sinister features, which typecast him as a villain before he switched to the Spaghetti Western genre. Lee had more than 170 acting credits to his name, including the films "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (1966), "Sabata" (1969), "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" (1972), "Escape from New York" (1981), and "Thieves of Fortune" (1990) and the television series "Space Patrol" (1952–1953), "The Lone Ranger" (1952–1953), "The Range Rider" (1952–1953), "Cavalcade of America" (1953–1954), "The Adventures of Kit Carson" (1953–1955), "Lawman" (1958–1960), and "Gunsmoke" (1960–1966). Van Cleef also starred as John Peter McAllister on the NBC series "The Master" (1984), and he earned a Bronze Star when he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Lee died of a heart attack on December 16, 1989, at the age of 64.

Early Life

Lee Van Cleef was born Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef Jr. on January 9, 1925, in Somerville, New Jersey. He was the son of Marion and Clarence Van Cleef, and 17-year-old Lee graduated from Somerville High School New Jersey early so he would be able to enlist in the U.S. Navy. After joining the military in September 1942 and completing his training, Van Cleef was assigned to work on a submarine chaser, then he was a sonarman on the minesweeper the USS Incredible. Lee was discharged from the Navy in March 1946, and by that time he had earned a minesweeper patch, the rank of Sonarman First Class, and several medals.


After he left the military, Van Cleef landed his first acting role, serving as a reader for a Little Theater Group (Clinton, New Jersey) production of "Our Town." He continued to audition for the group's plays and was cast as boxer Joe Pendleton in "Heaven Can Wait." Lee was spotted by a talent scout who took him to MCA talent agent Maynard Morris in New York City, and Morris sent him to audition for the play "Mister Roberts" at the Alvin Theater. Van Cleef's first film was 1952's "High Noon," then he appeared in "Untamed Frontier" (1952), "Kansas City Confidential" (1952), "The Lawless Breed" (1953), "White Lightning" (1953), "Tumbleweed" (1953), "The Nebraskan" (1953), and "The Desperado" (1954). Lee's first TV role came in a 1952 episode of the Western series "Sky King," and from 1953 to 1955, he appeared in six episodes of "The Adventures of Kit Carson." He also guest-starred on "The Range Rider" (1952–1953), "The Lone Ranger" (1952–1953), "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" (1954), "Wagon Train" (1958), "Zorro" (1958), "The Real McCoys" (1959), and "The Rifleman" (1959–1962).

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Van Cleef starred in the films "Ten Wanted Men" (1955), "The Road to Denver" (1955), "A Man Alone" (1955), "The Conqueror" (1956), "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957), "Day of the Bad Man" (1958), "The Young Lions" (1958), "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962), "How the West Was Won" (1962), and "Commandos"(1968), and he played "Angel Eyes" / "The Bad" in 1966's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Lee guest-starred on "77 Sunset Strip" (1960), "Bonanza" (1960), "Gunsmoke" (1960–1966), "The Twilight Zone" (1961), "Perry Mason" (1963), "Have Gun – Will Travel" (1962–1963), "Rawhide" (1964), "The Andy Griffith Show" (1965), and "My Mother the Car" (1965), and in 1984, he starred in the lead role of John Peter McAllister on NBC's "The Master." In the '70s, Van Cleef appeared in the films "Barquero" (1970), "El Condor" (1970), "Captain Apache" (1971), "Bad Man's River" (1971), "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" (1972), "The Grand Duel" (1972), "The Stranger and the Gunfighter" (1974), "God's Gun" (1976), "Kid Vengeance" (1977), and "The Rip-Off" (1978). He also played the title role in 1969's "Sabata" and 1971's "Return of Sabata," and in the last decade of his life, he starred in "The Octagon" (1980), "Escape from New York" (1981), "Goma-2" (1984), "Code Name: Wild Geese" (1984), "Jungle Raiders" (1985), "Armed Response" (1986), "The Commander" (1987), and "Speed Zone" (1989). Lee's final film was "Thieves of Fortune," which was posthumously released in 1990.

Personal Life

Lee married Patsy Ruth Kahle in 1943, and they welcomed daughter Deborah and sons Alan and David before divorcing in 1958. Van Cleef wed Joan Marjorie Drane in 1960, and after their 1974 divorce, he married Barbara Havelone in 1976. Lee and Barbara remained married until Van Cleef's death in 1989. While building a playhouse for Deborah, Lee had an accident that resulted in the loss of a joint of his middle finger, and in 1958, he nearly lost his life in a car accident. The car accident resulted in a knee injury that caused Van Cleef pain for the rest of his life, and when he had to take a break from his acting career, he launched an interior decoration business with Joan and spent his time painting landscapes and sea scenes


Van Cleef passed away at the age of 64 on December 16, 1989, after collapsing at his home in Oxnard, California. After Lee's death, Ventura County deputy coroner Craig Stevens stated, "It's an apparent heart attack. He's got a history of heart disease. He had a permanent pacemaker." Van Cleef had also been suffering from throat cancer, which was listed as a secondary cause of death. He was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills, and an inscription on his grave marker reads "BEST OF THE BAD."


For his acting, Van Cleef was honored with a Golden Boot at the 1983 Golden Boot Awards. For his military service, he received a Bronze Star Medal, U.S. Navy Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal.

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