Actor. He received notoriety as a 20th century American actor, who found fame in the Hollywood film industry with at least 100 films or television appearances. Born Laszlo Loewenstein in Rosenberg, Austria-Hungary Empire, now Ruzomberok, Slovakia, he was educated in Vienna, but at age 17, he left home, working as a bank clerk in Vienna, and then making his acting debut in Zurich, Switzerland. He was a virtual unknown for seven years, playing bit parts in numerous films in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until 1931, when German director Fritz Lang cast him as a psychopathic child killer in the 1931 film "M". He produced several more German films. When the Nazi Party came to power with their Antisemitism, he escaped Germany since he was of Jewish ancestry in 1933 for Paris, and in 1935, for the United States and Hollywood. He was able to find work immediately, and played Raskolnikov in "Crime and Punishment" in 1935. In the late 1930s, he played the Japanese sleuth, Mr. Moto, in a series of eight Mr. Moto B films, and became a Hollywood icon after roles in "The Maltese Falcon" in 1941 and "Casablanca" in 1942. Although considered a great actor of his time, he was never nominated for an Academy Award. In 1938, the Nazis used images of Peter Lorre from "M" in their propaganda film "Der Ewige Jude" or "The Eternal Jew", to portray Jews in a negative light. After the war, he returned to Germany, where he wrote, directed, and starred in "Der Verlorene" or "The Lost One" in 1951, paying homage to his former homeland. He received an honorable mention for the film at the German Film Awards. After that movie, his roles declined, and his last movie was with Jerry Lewis, in "The Patsy" in 1964. He was actually the first James Bond villain, playing the role of Le Chiffre, in "Casino Royale" in 1954, long before Sean Connery made 007 a hit star in the 1962 film, "Dr. No." He also was in the original "Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea," where he played Commodore Lucius Emory. He was married three times: first to Celia Lovsky, from 1934 to March of 1945, divorced; then to Karen Verne, from May 25, 1945 to 1949; and last to Anne Marie Brenning, from July 21, 1950 until his death. He had one child, a daughter, Catharine, born in 1953. Catharine was almost abducted by the Hillside Stranglers, Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, who let her go when they learned that she was Peter Lorre's daughter; she discovered this when they were finally caught. His unique voice style was often imitated in films and cartoons, and he was easily one of the most mimicked and caricatured of the Hollywood stars. In 1956, while he and Vincent Price went to view Bela Lugosi at Bela's funeral, and upon seeing Bela dressed in his famous Dracula cape, quipped "Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?" Price delivered Lorre's 1964 eulogy. He had a decline in health with chronic painful gall bladder problems and morphine addiction to control the pain. After gaining 100 pounds in a short interval, he died from a stroke. His remains were cremated. His name was placed in 1960 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6619.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
Cremated ashes interred
Elvira Freischberger Löwenstein
Catharine Evelyn Lorre Baker