biography

Born Laszlo Lowenstein on June 26, 1904 in Rozsahegy, Hungary, actor Peter Lorre grew up in Vienna, Austria. As a teenager, he studied drama and worked as a bank clerk. In the 1920s, he relocated to Switzerland and later Germany in search of stage work, where he quickly rose to prominence as a respected actor. In the late 1920s, Lorre was cast in German films, and he came to international attention upon the release of Fritz Lang's M (1931), in which Lorre portrayed a serial child killer. Of the Jewish faith, Lorre continued working in German cinema until the Nazis rose to power in 1933. Fearing for his safety, he eventually left Germany for France, Britain and, later, the U.S., where he continued his career with great success. His first English language film was Alfred Hitchcock's first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934; with Leslie Banks). At the time, Lorre's command of the English language was poor, so he learned his lines phonetically while studying the language. He then went to the U.S., where his first film was the low-budget MGM horror film Mad Love (1935; with Frances Drake and Colin Clive). He later returned to Britain to star in another Hitchcock film, Secret Agent (1936; with John Gielgud, Madeleine Carroll, and Robert Young). That same year, he signed a contract with 20th Century Fox and embarked on the studio's successful Mr. Moto series, in which Lorre portrayed Japanese sleuth Kentaro Moto in a eight films.

Peter Lorre

Late 1930s studio portrait of Peter Lorre


Due to his unusual physical characteristics, Lorre was often cast in horror films and mysteries, but by 1940 he became a fixture in film noir thrillers such as The Maltese Falcon (1941; with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor) and Confidential Agent (1945; with Charles Boyer and Lauren Bacall). In the films he made for Warner Bros., he was often cast with character actor Sidney Greenstreet. He also acted in a number of horror-based comedies, including You'll Find Out (1940; with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff) and the classic Arsenic and Old Lace (1944; with Cary Grant and Raymond Massey). However, Lorre's career began to soften in the years following World War II, and by the late 1940s, his film career stalled. In 1950, he returned to Germany to begin his own production company, but the lone result of that company, Der Verlorene (1951) in which Lorre also directed and starred, was a critical and commercial failure. After he returned to the U.S., the rising popularity of television in the early 1950s helped breathe new life into his career.

the films of peter lorre

M (1931)

Peter Lorre

Lorre first rose to prominence as child killer Hans Beckert in Fritz Lang's German thriller M

Crack-Up (1936)

Peter Lorre and Brian Donlevy

With Brian Donlevy in the 20th Century Fox spy drama Crack-Up

Lancer Spy (1936)

Peter Lorre, Dolores del Rio, and George Sanders

From the 20th Century Fox drama Lancer Spy with Dolores del Rio and George Sanders

Secret Agent (1936)

Peter Lorre

From the British mystery Secret Agent, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937)

Sig Ruman and Peter Lorre

With Sig Ruman in the first of 20th Century Fox's Mr. Moto mysteries Think Fast, Mr. Moto

Island of Doomed Men (1940)

Robert Wilcox and Peter Lorre

With Robert Wilcox in the low-budget thriller Island of Doomed Men, released by Columbia

You'll Find Out (1940)

Peter Lorre, Bela Lugosi, and Boris Karloff

With Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in the RKO comedy You'll Find Out

Strange Cargo (1940)

Peter Lorre and Joan Crawford

With Joan Crawford in MGM's drama Strange Cargo

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, and Humphrey Bogart

From the Warner Bros. film noir classic The Maltese Falcon. Now a classic, at the time it was a quickly shot B flick

The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)

Maxie Rosenbloom, Boris Karloff, Jeff Donnell, Larry Parks, and Peter Lorre

From the backlot Columbia comedy The Boogie Man Will Get You with Maxie Rosenbloom, Boris Karloff, Jeff Donnell, and Larry Parks

Casablanca (1943)

Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre

With Humphrey Bogart in the Warner Bros. classic Casablanca. Although this film is highly regarded, in actuality many of the principal actors didn't want to do the film

Background to Danger (1943)

Brenda Marshall and Peter Lorre

From the Warner Bros. war thriller Background to Danger with Brenda Marshall

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Raymond Massey, Cary Grant, Peter Lorre, and Jack Carson

From the hilarious Warner Bros. comedy Arsenic and Old Lace with Raymond Massey, Cary Grant, and Jack Carson

The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)

Robert Alda, Andrea King, Victor Francen, Peter Lorre, and William Edmunds

From the Warner Bros. horror film The Beast with Five Fingers with Robert Alda, Andrea King, Victor Francen, and William Edmunds

Black Angel (1946)

Peter Lorre and Dan Duryea

With Dan Duryea in the Universal film noir thriller Black Angel

The Chase (1946)

Michele Morgan, Peter Lorre, and Steve Cochran

From the independently produced film noir flick The Chase, released by United Artists. Pictured are Michele Morgan, Peter Lorre, and Steve Cochran

Three Strangers (1946)

Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Geraldine Fitzgerald

With Sidney Greenstreet and Geraldine Fitzgerald in the Warner Bros. film noir thriller Three Strangers

My Favorite Brunette (1947)

Peter Lorre, Bob Hope, and Lon Chaney Jr.

From the Paramount comedy My Favorite Brunette with Bob Hope and Lon Chaney Jr.

Congo Crossing (1956)

Virginia Mayo, Peter Lorre, and George Nader

With Virginia Mayo and George Nader in the Universal-International adventure Congo Crossing

The Buster Keaton Story (1957)

Donald O'Connor and Peter Lorre

With Donald O'Connor in the Paramount drama The Buster Keaton Story

Hell Ship Mutiny (1957)

Jon Hall and Peter LorreJon Hall and Peter Lorre

Actor Jon Hall produced this low-budget adventure, titled Hell Ship Mutiny. Lorre is pictured here with Jon Hall

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)

Barbara Eden, Joan Fontaine, Peter Lorre, and Walter Pidgeon

From the 20th Century Fox adventure Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea with Barbara Eden, Joan Fontaine, and Walter Pidgeon

Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962)

Peter Lorre, Barbara Eden, and Red Buttons

With Barbara Eden and Red Buttons in the 20th Century Fox adventure Five Weeks in a Balloon

The Comedy of Terrors (1963)

Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Vincent Price

Campy promotional shot from American International's comedy/horror flick The Comedy of Terrors. Pictured are Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Lorre, and Vincent Price

later years

Peter Lorre was married three times; his first was to actress Celia Lovsky, whom he met when both were stage actors in Vienna. When this marriage ended in divorce in 1945, he married a much younger German actress, Kaaren Verne, but this union quickly ended in divorce. His third marriage produced his only child, daughter Cathy.

With the increasing popularity of television in the early 1950s, Lorre found his acting career reinvigorated on such anthology series as Climax!, Playhouse 90, and Studio 57, as well as the comedy series The Red Skelton Hour. In addition, Lorre continued acting in films, everything from big-budget adventures such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961; with Walter Pidgeon and Joan Fontaine) to such low-budget flicks as Hell Ship Mutiny (1957; with Jon Hall) and The Raven (1963; with Vincent Price and Boris Karloff). Sadly, Peter Lorre was found dead on March 23, 1964, just two days before Muscle Beach Party (1964; with Frankie Avalon and Luciana Paluzzi) premiered; Lorre had a cameo in that film. His final film was the comedy The Patsy (1964; with Jerry Lewis and Phil Harris). He was survived by his estranged third wife, Anne Marie (1922-1971), and daughter, Cathy (1953-1985).

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filmography

FILM
The Patsy (1964) with Jerry Lewis, Everett Sloane, Phil Harris, Keenan Wynn, John Carradine, Hans Conried, Richard Deacon, Scatman Crothers, and Del Moore
Muscle Beach Party (1964) with Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Luciana Paluzzi, John Ashley, Don Rickles, Jody McCrea, Peter Lupus, Donna Loren, and Morey Amsterdam
The Comedy of Terrors (1963) with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Joyce Jameson, Joe E. Brown, Beverly Powers, and Basil Rathbone
The Raven (1963) with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court, and Jack Nicholson
Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962) with Red Buttons, Fabian, Barbara Eden, Cedric Hardwicke, Barbara Luna, Billy Gilbert, and Herbert Marshall
Tales of Terror (1962) with Vincent Price, Joyce Jameson, Basil Rathbone, and Debra Paget
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) with Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Robert Sterling, Michael Ansara, and Frankie Avalon
Scent of Mystery (1960) with Denholm Elliott, Peter Arne, and Diana Dors
The Big Circus (1959) with Victor Mature, Red Buttons, Rhonda Fleming, Kathryn Grant, Vincent Price, Gilbert Roland, David Nelson, and Adele Mara
Hell Ship Mutiny (1957) with Jon Hall, John Carradine, and Peter Coe
The Sad Sack (1957) with Jerry Lewis, David Wayne, Phyllis Kirk, George Dolenz, Shepperd Strudwick, and Mary Treen
The Story of Mankind (1957) with an all-star cast
Silk Stockings (1957) with Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Janis Paige, and George Tobias
The Buster Keaton Story (1957) with Donald O'Connor, Ann Blyth, Rhonda Fleming, Larry Keating, Jackie Coogan, and Richard Anderson
Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) with Cantinflas, Robert Morley, Noel Coward, John Gielgud, David Niven, Charles Boyer, and Evelyn Keyes
Congo Crossing (1956) with Virginia Mayo and George Nader
20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) with Kirk Douglas and James Mason
Beat the Devil (1953) with Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, and Bernard Lee
Der Verlorene (1951)
Double Confession (1950) with Derek Farr
Quicksand (1950) with Mickey Rooney, Jeanne Cagney, and Barbara Bates
Rope of Sand (1949) with Burt Lancaster, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Corinne Calvet, Sam Jaffe, John Bromfield, and Hayden Rorke
Casbah (1948) with Yvonne De Carlo, Tony Martin, Marta Toren, and Hugo Haas
My Favorite Brunette (1947) with Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Lon Chaney Jr., John Hoyt, Reginald Denny, and Ann Doran
The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) with Robert Alda, Andrea King, and J. Carrol Naish
The Verdict (1946) with Sydney Greenstreet
The Chase (1946) with Robert Cummings, Michele Morgan, Steve Cochran, Lloyd Corrigan, and Jack Holt
Black Angel (1946) with Dan Duryea, June Vincent, and Broderick Crawford
Three Strangers (1946) with Sydney Greenstreet, Geraldine Fitzgerald, and Robert Shayne
Confidential Agent (1945) with Charles Boyer, Lauren Bacall, Wanda Hendrix
Hotel Berlin (1945) with Faye Emerson, Helmut Dantine, Raymond Massey, Andrea King, and Alan Hale
The Conspirators (1944) with Hedy Lamarr, Paul Henreid, and Sydney Greenstreet
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) with Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Jack Carson, and Edward Everett Horton
The Mask of Dimitrios (1944) with Sydney Greenstreet, Zachary Scott, and Faye Emerson
Passage to Marseille (1944) with Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Michele Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, George Tobias, and Helmut Dantine
The Cross of Lorraine (1943) with Jean-Pierre Aumont, Gene Kelly, Cedric Hardwicke, and Hume Cronyn
Background to Danger (1943) with George Raft, Brenda Marshall, Sydney Greenstreet, Osa Massen, and Turhan Bey
The Constant Nymph (1943) with Charles Boyer, Joan Fontaine, Alexis Smith, Brenda Marshall, and Charles Coburn
Casablanca (1942) with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, and Sydney Greenstreet
The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942) with Boris Karloff, Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom, Larry Parks, and Jeff Donnell
Invisible Agent (1942) with Ilona Massey, Jon Hall, and Cedric Hardwicke
All Through the Night (1941) with Humphrey Bogart, Conrad Veidt, Jane Darwell, Judith Anderson, William Demarest, Jackie Gleason, and Phil Silvers
The Maltese Falcon (1941) with Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Ward Bond, Jerome Cowan, and Elisha Cook Jr.
They Met in Bombay (1941) with Clark Gable and Rosalind Russell
Mr. District Attorney (1941) with Dennis O'Keefe
The Face Behind the Mask (1941) with Evelyn Keyes
You'll Find Out (1940) with Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Helen Parrish, Dennis O'Keefe, and Kay Kyser
Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) with Elisha Cook Jr.
Island of Doomed Men (1940) with Rochelle Hudson
I Was an Adventuress (1940) with Richard Greene and Erich von Stroheim
Strange Cargo (1940) with Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, and Albert Dekker
Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939) with Lionel Atwill and Virginia Field
Mr. Moto in Danger Island (1939) with Jean Hersholt and Leon Ames
Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1939) with Ricardo Cortez, Virginia Field, John Carradine, and George Sanders
Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938) with Henry Wilcoxon and Leon Ames
I'll Give a Million (1938) with Warner Baxter, Jean Hersholt, John Carradine, and Lynn Bari
Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938) with Rochelle Hudson and Chick Chandler
Mr. Moto's Gamble (1938) with Keye Luke, Lynn Bari, and Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom
Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937) with John Carradine
Lancer Spy (1937) with Dolores del Rio, George Sanders, Virginia Field, and Lionel Atwill
Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937) with Virginia Field and J. Carrol Naish
Nancy Steele Is Missing! (1937) with Victor McLaglen, John Carradine, Jane Darwell, and Kane Richmond
Crack-Up (1936) with Brian Donlevy and J. Carrol Naish
Secret Agent (1936) with John Gielgud, Madeleine Carroll, Robert Young, and Lilli Palmer
Crime and Punishment (1935) with Edward Arnold, Marian Marsh, Douglass Dumbrille, and Gene Lockhart
Mad Love (1935) with Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy, and Keye Luke
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) with Leslie Banks
High and Low (1933)
Unsichtbare Gegner (1933) with Oskar Homolka
Was Frauen traumen (1933)
Les requins du petrole (1933)
F.P.1 Doesn't Answer (1932)
Dope (1932)
Schub im Morgengrauen (1932)
F端nf von der Jazzband (1932) with Karel Stepanek
Die Koffer des Herrn O.F. (1931) with Hedy Lamarr
Bombs Over Monte Carlo (1931) with Anna Sten
M (1931) directed by Fritz Lang
The White Devil (1930) with Lil Dagover

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
Kraft Suspense Theatre, episode The End of the World, Baby, originally aired October 24, 1963
77 Sunset Strip, episode 5: Part 5, originally aired October 18, 1963
77 Sunset Strip, episode 5: Part 4, originally aired October 11, 1963
77 Sunset Strip, episode 5: Part 3, originally aired October 4, 1963
77 Sunset Strip, episode 5: Part 2, originally aired September 27, 1963
77 Sunset Strip, episode 5: Part 1, originally aired September 20, 1963
The DuPont Show of the Week, episode Diamond Fever, originally aired March 24, 1963
Route 66, episode Lizard's Leg and Owlet's Wing, originally aired October 26, 1962
The Gertrude Berg Show, episode The Trouble with Crayton, originally aired December 6, 1961
The Gertrude Berg Show, episode First Test, originally aired October 11, 1961
The Best of the Post, episode The Baron Loved His Wife, originally aired January 21, 1961
Checkmate, episode The Human Touch, originally aired January 14, 1961
Rawhide, episode Incident of the Slavemaster, originally aired November 11, 1960
The Red Skelton Hour, episode Clem and the Beanstalk, originally aired May 24, 1960
Wagon Train, episode The Alexander Portlass Story, originally aired March 16, 1960
Playhouse 90, episode The Cruel Day, originally aired February 24, 1960
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode Man from the South, originally aired January 3, 1960
Five Fingers, episode Thin Ice, originally aired December 19, 1959
The Red Skelton Hour, episode Appleby the Weatherman, originally aired November 17, 1959
The Red Skelton Hour, episode Rapid Growth, originally aired May 12, 1959
Playhouse 90, episode Turn Left at Mount Everest, originally aired April 3, 1958
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode The Diplomatic Corpse, originally aired December 8, 1957
Playhouse 90, episode The Jet-Propelled Couch, originally aired November 14, 1957
The Red Skelton Hour, episode Appleby's Patio, originally aired November 5, 1957
Playhouse 90, episode The Fabulous Irishman, originally aired June 27, 1957
Climax!, episode A Taste for Crime, originally aired June 20, 1957
Playhouse 90, episode The Last Tycoon, originally aired March 14, 1957
The Red Skelton Hour, episode Clem Strikes Oil, originally aired March 5, 1957
The 20th Century-Fox Hour, episode Operation Cicero, originally aired December 26, 1956
Playhouse 90, episode Sizeman and Son, originally aired October 18, 1956
Climax!, episode The Man Who Lost His Head, originally aired July 26, 1956
Studio 57, episode The Queen's Bracelet, originally aired May 6, 1956
Climax!, episode The Fifth Wheel, originally aired February 9, 1956
Studio 57, episode The Finishers, originally aired January 29, 1956
Screen Directors Playhouse, episode Number Five Checked Out, originally aired January 18, 1956
The Star and the Story, episode The Blue Landscape, originally aired December 10, 1955
The Red Skelton Hour, episode Phantom of the Ballet, originally aired November 29, 1955
Climax!, episode A Promise to Murder, originally aired November 17, 1955
Studio 57, episode Young Couples Only, originally aired September 3, 1955
The Eddie Cantor Comedy Theater, episode The Sure Cure, originally aired May 2, 1955
Producers' Showcase, episode Reunion in Vienna, originally aired April 4, 1955
The Red Skelton Hour, episode Honeymooner's Spoof, originally aired January 18, 1955
The Best of Broadway, episode Arsenic and Old Lace, originally aired January 5, 1955
Rheingold Theatre, episode The Blue Landscape, originally aired January 1, 1955
Climax!, episode Casino Royale, originally aired October 21, 1954
Schlitz Playhouse, episode The Pipe, originally aired September 24, 1954
The Red Skelton Hour, episode Mad Scientist, originally aired June 15, 1954
The United States Steel Hour, episode The Vanishing Point, originally aired December 22, 1953
Suspense, episode The Tortured Hand, originally aired December 16, 1952
Lux Video Theatre, episode The Taste, originally aired March 31, 1952

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Watch Peter Lorre in the 1950 film noir thriller Quicksand

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