Sunday, June 26, 2022


On this day - June 26th, the great character actor Peter Lorre was born. 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 (1943). Due to years of addiction, Lorre's health began to fade in the 1950s, and he ended his career starring in many low budget horror films. He died in 1964 at the young age of 59, and his birthday is worth celebrating due to all the great films he made that audiences still love...

No comments:

Post a Comment