Lorre, Peter

(Laszlo Loewenstein, 1904-1964)
   Actor. Lorre achieved his greatest fame as a film actor in the United States, but he had established superb credentials in Berlin before he fled to Hollywood. "Germany isn't big enough for two murderers like Hitler and me," he is reported to have said in 1933. With no formal training as an actor, he began with a Vienna improvisational troupe in 1923; while assuming scores of roles in that endeavor, he chose "Lorre," a variation on the word role, as his stage name. Lorre's first theater engagement was in Breslau, and he subsequently worked in Zurich and again in Vienna before making his debut in Berlin in 1929 in Marieluise Fleisser's Pioniere in Ingolstadt (Pioneers in Ingolstadt) at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. Bertolt Brecht claimed he had never seen an actor quite like Lorre, ironically agreeing with a Nazi critic who said Lorre seemed always on the edge between the tragic and comic, "the hysterical and the phlegmatic. If he can play other characters this well, we have an actor of the first order" (Biedryzynski, Deutsche Zeitung, 2 April 1929). Lorre became an overnight sensation in the play, which led to his engagement at the Volksbühne in Georg Büchner's Dantons Tod (Danton 's Death) with Lotte Lenya and in Georg Kaiser's Nebeneinander (Next Door) at the Deutsches Theater. Lorre's most significant work in Berlin, however, came in 1931 when he played Galy Gay in Brecht's production at the Prussian State Theater of his Mann ist Mann and Alfred in Heinz Hilpert's resplendent production of Ödön von Horvâth's Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald (Tales of the Vienna Woods) in its world premiere. The former was a confirmation of Lorre's genius; the latter revealed its astonishing development.
   With those two productions, Lorre became heir to Alexander Moissi's mantle as the German theater's greatest exponent of modernist performance. He meanwhile had begun a remarkable film career, culminating likewise in 1931. As a serial child murderer in Fritz Lang's M, his performance ranked with that in Tales of the Vienna Woods as both chilling and fascinating. When the National Socialist government assumed power in 1933, Lorre left Germany almost immediately and soon found work in London with Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) as Abbott in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). His subsequent work in American films had its basis in the career he established in Germany, though he initially played the familiar murderer type for Columbia Pictures, which had offered him $1,000 per week and a seaside villa in Santa Monica. He realized, he later said, that standing five foot, three inches tall effectively removed him from consideration of parts Clark Gable played, but when 20th Century-Fox offered him a series of films as a Japanese detective named Mr. Moto, he gladly accepted the offer. When that series ended, Lorre worked as a freelance actor in Hollywood rather than signing with one particular studio. He appeared in several outstanding films, among them Strange Cargo with Gable (1940); The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart (1941); Casablanca, again with Bogart (1942); and Arsenic and Old Lace with Cary Grant (1944). Lorre returned to Germany in 1950 and filmed Der Verlorene (The Lost Man), for which he received the first Federal Film Prize ever awarded. He then returned to the United States and worked in another 20 movies, among them Around the World in Eighty Days with David Niven (1956), The Big Circus with Vincent Price (1959), and Muscle Beach Party with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello (1964).

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • LORRE, PETER — (Laszlo Lowenstein; 1904–1964), film actor. Born in Rozsahegy, Hungary, Lorre joined a German theatrical troupe at 17 and for a time worked with the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht. In 1931 his performance as the psychopathic killer in Fritz Lang …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Lorre, Peter — orig. László Loewenstein born June 26, 1904, Rózsahegy, Hung. died March 23, 1964, Hollywood, Calif., U.S. Hungarian born U.S. film actor. He played bit parts with a German theatrical troupe before earning international fame as the psychotic… …   Universalium

  • Lorre,Peter — Lor·re (lôrʹē), Peter. 1904 1964. Czechoslovakian born American actor. In the German film M (1931) he portrayed a psychotic killer, establishing his trademark role as a sinister villain. His other films include The Maltese Falcon (1941) and… …   Universalium

  • Lorre, Peter — orig. László Loewenstein (26 jun. 1904, Rózsahegy, Hungría–23 mar. 1964, Hollywood, Cal., EE.UU.). Actor de cine estadounidense de origen húngaro. Interpretó pequeños papeles en un grupo teatral alemán antes de alcanzar fama mundial como el… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lorre, Peter — pseud. di Löwenstein, Laszlo …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Lorre, Peter — • ЛО РРЕ (Loire) Петер (наст. имя и фам. Ласло Лёвенштайн, Lowenstein) (26.6.1904 23.3.1964)    нем. и амер. актёр. По нац. венгр. Выступал в т рах Вены и Берлина. В кино с 1928 (ф. Пробуждение весны ). Успех пришёл к Л. с первой значит. ролью в… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Lorre, Peter (Lowenstein, Ladislav) — (1904 64)    American actor, of Hungarian origin. Born in Rozsahegy, Hungary, he moved to Austria as a child. He acted on the Berlin stage and in Aims until the rise of Nazism. He went to England and later worked in Hollywood. He appeared in such …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Peter Lorre — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Peter Lorre Peter Lorre en M, el vampiro de Düsseldorf …   Wikipedia Español

  • Peter Lorre — Infobox actor name = Peter Lorre imagesize = caption = Photograph by Yousuf Karsh (1946) birthname = László Löwenstein birthdate = birth date|1904|6|26 location = Rózsahegy, Austria Hungary (now Slovakia) deathdate = death date and… …   Wikipedia

  • peter — peter1 /pee teuhr/, v.i. peter out 1. to diminish gradually and stop; dwindle to nothing: The hot water always peters out in the middle of my shower. 2. to tire; exhaust (usually used as a past participle): I m petered out after that walk. [1805… …   Universalium

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