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Peter Lorre Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (7)  | Trivia (52)  | Personal Quotes (2)  | Salary (6)

Overview (5)

Born in Rózsahegy, Austria-Hungary [now Ruzomberok, Slovakia]
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (stroke)
Birth NameLászló Löwenstein
Nicknames Lazzy
Europe's One Man Chamber of Horrors
The Master of Horror
Lord high minister of all that is sinister
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Peter Lorre was born László Löwenstein in Rózsahegy in the Slovak area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of Hungarian Jewish parents. He learned both Hungarian and German languages from birth, and was educated in elementary and secondary schools in the Austria-Hungary capitol Vienna, but did not complete. As a youth he ran away from home, first working as a bank clerk, and after stage training in Vienna, Austria, made his acting debut at age 17 in 1922 in Zurich, Switzerland. He traveled for several years acting on stage throughout his home region, Vienna, Berlin, and Zurich, including working with Bertolt Brecht, until Fritz Lang cast him in a starring role as the psychopathic child killer in the German film M (1931).

After several more films in Germany, including a couple roles for which he learned to speak French, Lorre left as the Nazis came to power, going first to Paris where he made one film, then London where Alfred Hitchcock cast him as a creepy villain in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), where he learned his lines phonetically, and finally arrived in Hollywood in 1935. In his first two roles there he starred as a mad scientist in Mad Love (1935) directed by recent fellow-expatriate Karl Freund, and the leading part of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment (1935), by another expatriate German director Josef von Sternberg, a successful movie made at Lorre's own suggestion. He returned to England for a role in another Hitchcock film, Secret Agent (1936), then back to the US for a few more films before checking into a rehab facility to cure himself of a morphine addiction.

After shaking his addiction, in order to get any kind of acting work, Lorre reluctantly accepted the starring part as the Japanese secret agent in Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937), wearing makeup to alter his already very round eyes for the part. He ended up committed to repeating the role for eight more "Mr. Moto" movies over the next two years.

Lorre played numerous memorable villain roles, spy characters, comedic roles, and even a romantic type, throughout the 1940s, beginning with his graduation from 30s B-pictures The Maltese Falcon (1941). Among his most famous films, Casablanca (1942), and a comedic role in the Broadway hit film Arsenic and Old Lace (1944).

After the war, between 1946 and '49 Lorre concentrated largely on radio and the stage, while continuing to appear in movies. In Autumn 1950 he traveled to West Gemany where he wrote, directed and starred in the critically acclaimed but generally unknown German-language film The Lost Man (1951), adapted from Lorre's own novel.

Lorre returned to the US in 1952, somewhat heavier in stature, where he used his abilities as a stage actor appearing in many live television productions throughout the 50s, including the first James Bond adaptation Climax!: Casino Royale (1954), broadcast just a few months after Ian Fleming had published that first Bond novel. In that decade, Lorre had various roles, often to type but also as comedic caricatures of himself, in many episodes of TV series, and variety shows, though he continued to work in motion pictures, including the Academy Award winning Around the World in 80 Days (1956), and a stellar role as a clown in The Big Circus (1959).

In the late 50s and early 1960s he worked in several low-budget films, with producer-director Roger Corman, and producer-writer-director Irwin Allen, including the aforementioned The Big Circus and two adventurous Disney movies with Allen. He died from a stroke the year he made his last movie, playing a stooge in Jerry Lewis' The Patsy (1964).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: IMDberie

Family (3)

Spouse 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)
Children Catharine Lorre
Parents Alois Loewenstein
Elvira Freischberger

Trade Mark (7)

Distinctive breathy voice
Distinctive clipped manner of speaking
Spoke with an almost feminine clear slow tenor voice
Roles in horror films/films with dark subject matter
Eerie eccentric characters usually up to no good
Large popped eyes
Small stature

Trivia (52)

According to Vincent Price, when he and 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 television series Climax! (1954).
Had one daughter: Catherine Lorre (b. 6/22/53). She passed away on 5/7/85 in California.
Separated from wife Annemarie Brenning in October 1962; a divorce hearing had been scheduled for the day Lorre passed away, 3/23/64.
Interred at Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery (now called Hollywood Forever Cemetery) in Hollywood, CA, 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). She did not realize that they were killers until after they were arrested.
In the early 1990s, his famous accent was parodied yet again on the animated series 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 alleged Communist infiltration of Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s, he 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 animated series The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991), has said that Lorre inspired the character Ren.
He established his own production company, Lorre Incorporated. The company was mismanaged and Lorre filed for backruptcy.
His distinctive voice gave him 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".
He suggested to Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures 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 reported that Joseph Goebbels himself 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!".
His speech and mannerisms provided the inspiration for the villainous character Rocky Rococo in the Firesign Theater's radio play "The Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye" (1968).
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 #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) was ranked #79 on "Premiere" magazine's list of 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time (April 2004 issue).
Was the inspiration for the ghost mascot of the General Mills cereal, Boo Berry.
Is the subject of a 1986 song by the British indie pop group The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy.
Is mentioned in the lyrics of Al Stewart's 1976 song "Year of the Cat" ("In a morning from a Bogart movie / In a country where they turn back time / You go strolling through the crowds like Peter Lorre / Contemplating a crime").
Alfred Hitchcock was reputed to have said that one of Lorre's nicknames was "The Walking Overcoat". This was given to him because he used to rehearse in a floor-length overcoat, no matter what the season of the year was.
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.
Sold Alfred Hitchcock the screen rights to Secret Agent (1936) 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 residing as an expatriate in Paris, he lived in the same shabby rooming house as future Hollywood luminaries Paul Lukas, Oskar Homolka and Franz Waxman.
In 1936 Universal proposed starring him in a remake of Lon Chaney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), but the project never progressed beyond the discussion stage.
In the early '50s he became seriously ill with a malady that affected his glands, causing a metabolic change. After recuperating, he gained almost 100 pounds, which aggravated a chronic high-blood-pressure condition that permanently altered his appearance and necessitated constant treatment.
Had been signed to reprise his role of Strangdour, from Muscle Beach Party (1964), in the next beach film of the series: Bikini Beach (1964). However, he passed away before production began.
Appeared with Vincent Price in five films: The Story of Mankind (1957), The Big Circus (1959), Tales of Terror (1962), The Comedy of Terrors (1963) and The Raven (1963).
Appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: Casablanca (1942) and Around the World in 80 Days (1956), and a Best Picture nominee: The Maltese Falcon (1941).
Was unhappy when 20th Century-Fox assigned him to the first "Mr. Moto" film, but as he had recently been discharged from rehab for his morphine addiction, he accepted the role with reluctance.
In an interview, he said that he and his early friends invented and popularized the slang word "creep" meaning "a creepy, annoying person", though when they invented it, it was spelled "kreap", and did not have the same negative connotation.
Immediately after M (1931), he received 310 film offers that all contained a similar role. However, he refused most of them in order to try not to get pigeonholed as a psychopath. unfortunately, it didn't always work out that way for him.
A copy of his life mask--made at Don Post Studios in the 1960s--is part of the story line in Hollywood Mouth (2008). Lorre's residence on Hollywood Boulevard is also shown in the film.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6619 Hollywood Blvd. on 2/8/60.
On 8/24/ 2018, he was honored with a day of his film work during the TCM Summer Under The Stars.
Appeared with Humphrey Bogart in five films: The Maltese Falcon (1941), All Through the Night (1942), Casablanca (1942), Passage to Marseille (1944) and Beat the Devil (1953).
Appeared with Sydney Greenstreet in nine films: The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), Background to Danger (1943), Passage to Marseille (1944), The Mask of Dimitrios (1944), The Conspirators (1944), Hollywood Canteen (1944), Three Strangers (1946) and The Verdict (1946).
Spoke English, French, German and Hungarian.
Appeared in two science-fiction submarine movies: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961).
Was the visual inspiration for the original illustrations of Gomez Addams in The Addams Family, when they were published in "The New Yorker "in 1938. He was 34 years old at the time.
Appeared in two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Casablanca (1942).
His likeness and an impression of his voice were presented three years after his death as the puppet character "Yetch" in Mad Monster Party? (1967) as voiced by Allen Swift, who also voiced the hero of the piece Felix Flankin (with Swift for that character invoking an impression of a living actor at that time, James Stewart), as well as voicing many of the classic monsters of movie history appearing in the animated Rankin/Bass feature, notably the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the Hunchback (presumably of Notre Dame), the Creature from the Black Lagoon, a band of zombies, and a giant ape referred to as "It" which turns out to be an obvious representation of King Kong. Interacting with those monsters as well as Dr. Frankenstein (as actually voiced by one of Lorre's past legendary horror co-stars, Boris Karloff), the comedic story element that qualified the Lorre character as being a monster himself was that his head would keep falling off, no doubt a reference to Lorre having in another movie played a man who claims to have been decapitated but that his head was restored to life when transplanted onto a different body, in Mad Love (1935), and also perhaps related to another of the actor's films, regarding the sightings of a disembodied living and murderous hand in The Beast with Five Fingers (1946).

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 before he learned English] 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 (6)

Crack-Up (1936) $2 .500 per week
Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) $3 .500 per week
The Maltese Falcon (1941) $2 .000 per week
Casablanca (1942) $500
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) $13,000
Beat the Devil (1953) $15,000

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