Edit
Peter Lorre Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (7) | Trivia (37) | Personal Quotes (2) | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 26 June 1904Rózsahegy, Austria-Hungary [now Ruzomberok, Slovakia]
Date of Death 23 March 1964Los Angeles, California, USA  (stroke)
Birth NameLászló Löwenstein
Nickname Lazzy
Height 5' 3½" (1.61 m)

Mini Bio (2)

As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for seven years and acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast him as the psychopathic child killer in M (1931). After several more films in Germany, Lorre left as the Nazis came to power, going to Paris, London and, in 1935, Hollywood. He played Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment (1935) and a series of Mr. Moto movies during the late 1930s. He began his pairing with Sydney Greenstreet as Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon (1941), continued in Casablanca (1942) and seven other films during the early 1940s. In Germany he wrote, directed and starred in Der Verlorene (1951). After that, somewhat heavier, he played in a string of not-so-stellar efforts, one exception being his role as a clown in The Big Circus (1959). He died the year he made his last movie, playing a stooge in Jerry Lewis' The Patsy (1964).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Peter was born in Rózsahegy, Hungary, to Alois and Elvira Löwenstein. He was educated in elementary and secondary schools in Vienna, Austria. He ran away from home when he was 17 and joined an improvised theater. In 1922, he worked as a bank clerk. Did bits with a company in Breslau, then secured a part in Galsworthy's "Society" in Zurich. He played in Vienna for two years before going to Berlin. He adopted the stage name "Lorre" in 1925. In 1928, he appeared in "Pioniere in Ingolstadt". He also appeared in "Spring's Awakening" (date unknown) and then in 1931 appeared in the famous M (1931) directed by Fritz Lang.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dave Curbow <Curbow@Apple.com>

Spouse (3)

Annemarie Stoldt (22 July 1953 - 23 March 1964) (his death) (1 child)
Kaaren Verne (25 May 1945 - 1950) (divorced)
Celia Lovsky (23 June 1934 - 13 March 1945) (divorced)

Trade Mark (7)

Raspy voice
Distinctive clipped manner of Speaking
Spoke with an almost feminine clear slow tenor voice
Roles in horror films/films with dark subject matter
Large, popped eyes
Eerie, eccentric characters usually up to no good
His small size

Trivia (37)

According to Vincent Price, when he and Peter Lorre went to view Bela Lugosi's body during Bela's funeral, Lorre, upon seeing Lugosi dressed in his famous Dracula cape, quipped, "Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?"
Was a favorite characterization for the famed Warner Bros. cartoonists, as he tangled several times with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. He was also portrayed as a fish in a Dr. Seuss Warner Bros. cartoon, Horton Hatches the Egg (1942).
Was the very first James Bond villain; he played Le Chiffre in a 1954 version of Casino Royale on the TV show Climax! (1954).
His image from M (1931) was unwittingly used on the German poster for the anti-semitic propaganda film, The Eternal Jew (1940), as an example of a typical Jew.
Daughter: Catharine Lorre, born 1953. She passed away on May 7, 1985.
Separated from wife, Annemarie Brenning, October 1962; a divorce hearing had been scheduled for the day Lorre died, 23 March 1964.
Hobby: Sketching
Interred at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now called Hollywood Forever), Hollywood, California, USA, in the Cathedral Mausoleum.
Spike Jones had a hit record with his wacky cover version of "My Old Flame" with voice actor Paul Frees doing a Lorre impression for the vocal. When Lorre appeared on Jones' radio show he had to learn the "Paul Frees" way of being Peter Lorre, as Peter himself was not quite the madman that Paul had made him out to be. Also imitated by Mel Blanc in a handful of Warner Bros. cartoons, and the vocal inspiration for the character Flat Top in The Dick Tracy Show (1961).
About 1977, his daughter Catharine Lorre was almost abducted in Los Angeles by the serial killers known as the Hillside Stranglers. She was stopped by Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, who were impersonating policemen. When they realized she was Lorre's daughter, they let her go because the actor was famous for playing a serial killer in Fritz Lang's M (1931). Catharine Lorre didn't realize that they were killers until after they were arrested.
In the early 1990s, his famous accent was parodied yet again in the cartoon show Mega Man (1994) as the robot henchman Cutman (possibly a wordplay on Sydney Greenstreet's Gutman in The Maltese Falcon (1941)).
During the House Un-American Activities Committee's investigation of Communist infiltration of Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s, Lorre was interviewed by investigators and asked to name anyone suspicious he had met since coming to the US. He responded by giving them a list of everyone he knew.
As a young man in Vienna, he was a student of the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler.
John Kricfalusi, creator of the cartoon The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991), has said that Lorre inspired the character of Ren.
He established his own production company, Lorre Incorporated. The company was mismanaged and Lorre filed for backruptcy.
His distinctive voice gave Lorre a successful career in radio. He guest-starred on all of the comedy/variety series from the mid-1930s into the 1950s, as well as thrillers such as "Inner Sanctum Mysteries" and "Suspense", and had three radio series of his own: "Mystery in the Air", "Nightmare", and for the Armed Forces Radio Services, "Mystery Playhouse".
Lorre suggested to Harry Cohn of Columbia that they make a film version of Crime and Punishment (1935) with him in the role of Raskolnikov. Cohn agreed to the project if Lorre would agree to be loaned out to MGM for Mad Love (1935).
When he arrived in Great Britain, his first meeting with a British director was with Alfred Hitchcock. By smiling and laughing as Hitchcock talked, the director was unaware that Lorre had a limited command of the English language. Hitchcock cast him in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Lorre learned much of his part phonetically.
It was reportedly Joseph Goebbels himself who warned Lorre to flee Germany.
Host/performer of NBC Radio's "Mystery in the Air" (1947).
Is the subject of a stage show and album by the World/Inferno Friendship Society called Peter Lorre's 20th Century: Addicted to Bad Ideas. The music is meant to outline Lorre's life, and the show is narrated with monologues and dialog between band members.
Remained friends with all his wives. His third wife's ashes are combined with his, despite their being separated at the time of his death.
He convinced Humphrey Bogart to marry Lauren Bacall, despite the age difference. He did so by saying, "Five good years are better than none!"
Is portrayed by Herbie Braha in Bogie (1980).
Lorre's speech and mannerisms provided the inspiration for the villainous 'Rocky Rococo' character in the Firesign Theater's 1968 radio play "The Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye".
Seems to be the object of tribute in many animated works, such as N. Gin in Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex (2001), the Ceiling Lamp in The Brave Little Toaster (1987), Ren Hoek in The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991), the Maggot in Corpse Bride (2005) and a mad scientist and gangster in several Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons.
His performance as Hans Beckert in M (1931) was ranked at #94 on Premiere Magazine's list of 100 Greatest Film Performances of All Time (April, 2006 issue).
His performance as Hans Beckert in M (1931) is ranked #79 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time (April, 2004 issue).
Subject of a 1986 Jazz Butcher Conspiracy song.
Lorre is the inspiration for the ghost mascot of the General Mills cereal, Boo Berry.
Mentioned in the lyrics of Al Stewart's 1976 hit song "Year of the Cat".
Alfred Hitchcock was reputed to have said that one of Lorre's nicknames was "The Walking Overcoat." This moniker was given to Lorre because he used to rehearse in a floor-length overcoat, no matter what the season of the year was.
He was sought for a role in The Black Sleep (1956), but when the cost-conscious producers deemed his salary request too high he was replaced by Akim Tamiroff.
Lorre sold Hitchcock the screen rights to "Secret Agent" in addition to co-starring in the film. The actor liked to collect valuable story properties, which were estimated to value $350,000 by 1944.
While living as an expatriate in Paris, Lorre lived in the same shabby rooming house as future Hollywood luminaries Paul Lukas, Oscar Homolka, and Franz Waxman.
In 1936 Universal proposed starring Lorre in a remake of Lon Chaney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," but the project never progressed beyond the discussion stage with the actor.
In the early 1950s Lorre became seriously ill with a malady that affected his glands, causing a metabolic change. After recuperating the actor gained almost 100 pounds, which aggravated a chronic high blood pressure condition that permanently altered his appearance and necessitated constant treatment.

Personal Quotes (2)

All that anyone needs to imitate me is two soft-boiled eggs and a bedroom voice.
[on his first meeting with Alfred Hitchcock] I had heard that he loved to tell stories and so I watched him like a hawk, and when I was of the opinion he had just told the punchline of a story, I broke out in such laughter that I almost fell off my chair.

Salary (2)

Casablanca (1942) $500
Beat the Devil (1953) $15,000

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page