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Claim to Fame
Mr.Moto, Horror Movies
Place of Death
Los Angeles, California, USA
Full Name at Birth
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Actor/Actress, Soundtrack, Other Crew
Humphrey Bogart, Josef Von Stronberg
Daughter: Catharine Lorre (1953-May 7, 1985)
Has Detailed Data (New)
Count - Awards
Cause of Death
Profile Bio Text
Lorre was born as László Löwenstein into a Jewish family in Rózsahegy (Hungarian), Rosenberg (German), Kingdom of Hungary, part of Austria-Hungary, now Ružomberok, Slovakia. His parents were Alois Loewenstein and Elvira Freischberger. When he was a child his family moved to Vienna where Lorre attended school. He began acting on stage in Vienna at the age of 17, where he worked with Richard Teschner, then moved to Breslau, and Zürich. In the late 1920s, the young 5 ft 5 in (165 cm) actor moved to Berlin where he worked with German playwright Bertolt Brecht, most notably in his Mann ist Mann. He also appeared as Dr. Nakamura in the musical Happy End by Brecht and composer Kurt Weill, alongside Brecht's wife Helene Weigel and co-stars Carola Neher, Oskar Homolka and Kurt Gerron.
The German-speaking actor became famous when Fritz Lang cast him as a child killer in his 1931 film M. In 1932 he appeared alongside Hans Albers in the science fiction film F.P.1 antwortet nicht about an artificial island in the mid-Atlantic. When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Lorre took refuge first in Paris and then London, where he was noticed by Ivor Montagu, Alfred Hitchcock's associate producer for The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), who reminded the director about Lorre's performance in M. They first considered him to play the assassin in the film, but wanted to use him in a larger role, despite his limited command of English, which Lorre overcame by learning much of his part phonetically. He also was featured in Hitchcock's Secret Agent, in 1935.
Eventually, Lorre went to Hollywood, where he specialized in playing sinister foreigners, beginning with Mad Love (1935), directed by Karl Freund. He starred in a series of Mr. Moto movies, a parallel to the better known Charlie Chan series, in which he played John P. Marquand's seminal character, a Japanese detective and spy. He did not enjoy these films — and twisted his shoulder during a stunt in Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation — but they were lucrative for the studio and gained Lorre many new fans. In 1939, he was picked to play the role that would eventually go to Basil Rathbone in Son of Frankenstein; Lorre had to decline the part due to illness. In 1940, Lorre co-starred with fellow horror actors Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in the Kay Kyser movie You'll Find Out.
Lorre enjoyed considerable popularity as a featured player in Warner Bros. suspense and adventure films. Lorre played the role of Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and portrayed the character Ugarte in Casablanca (1942). Lorre made nine movies altogether with Sydney Greenstreet counting The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, most of them variations on the latter film, including Background to Danger (1943, with George Raft); Passage to Marseille (1944, reteaming them with Casablanca stars Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains); The Mask of Dimitrios (1944, with character actor Greenstreet receiving top billing); The Conspirators (1944, with Hedy Lamarr and Paul Henreid); Hollywood Canteen (1944); Three Strangers (1946), a suspense film about three people who are joint partners on a winning lottery ticket starring top-billed Greenstreet, Geraldine Fitzgerald, and third-billed Lorre cast against type by director Jean Negulesco as the romantic lead; and Greenstreet and Lorre's final film together, suspense thriller The Verdict (1946), director Don Siegel's first movie, with Greenstreet and Lorre finally billed first and second, respectively.
Lorre also branched out, without Greenstreet, into comedy with the role of Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace, filmed by director Frank Capra in 1941, released in 1944, and starring Cary Grant and Raymond Massey.
In 1941, Peter Lorre became a naturalized citizen of the United States. After World War II, Lorre's acting career in Hollywood experienced a downturn, whereupon he concentrated on radio and stage work. In Germany he co-wrote, directed and starred in Der Verlorene (The Lost One) (1951), a critically acclaimed art film in the film noir style. He then returned to the United States where he appeared as a character actor in television and feature films, often spoofing his "creepy" image.
In 1954, he had the distinction of becoming the first actor to play a James Bond villain when he portrayed Le Chiffre in a television adaptation of Casino Royale, opposite Barry Nelson as an American James Bond. (In the spoof-film version of Casino Royale, Ronnie Corbett comments that SMERSH includes among its agents not only Le Chiffre, but also "Peter Lorre and Bela Lugosi".) Also in 1954, Lorre starred alongside Kirk Douglas and James Mason in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.
A famous story is told in Hollywood that in 1956, both Lorre and Vincent Price attended Bela Lugosi's funeral. According to Price, Lorre asked him "Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?" H
Peter Lorre (26 June 1904 – 23 March 1964) was an American actor of Austro-Hungarian Jewish origin.
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