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Peter Lorre Is Dead

Mar. 23, 1964 - Peter Lorre (pictured in “Casablanca”), 59, on screen a master of horror but off screen one of the most gentle and funniest of men, was found dead today of an apparent stroke. The body of the Hungarian-born actor was found beside his bed by his housekeeper who came to lean his apartment near Hollywood Boulevard.

Lorre had suffered from high blood pressure for years. In 1959, while making a movie in Spain, he almost died of high blood pressure, but a Spanish doctor used the old-fashioned remedy of bloodletting by leeches to bring down the pressure and save the actor’s life.

Lorre’s comic talents were last used by Jerry Lewis in “The Patsy,” a picture just completed. He also had done “Muscle Beach Party” for American International Studios, the same studio for which he co-starred with Boris Karloff and Vincent Price in “Comedy of Terrors.”

He leaves his wife Anna Marie — his fourth wife — from whom he was separated. They had a 10-year-old daughter, Kathryn.

Lorre, along with Jimmy Cagney and Jimmy Stewart, was a favorite target of nightclub impersonators.

“I’ve been billed as the world’s most imitated actor,” he once said. “And it’s true. I’m easy to imitate. All you need are the soft-boiled egg eyes and the bedroom voice.”

On a Lorre picture, stars, grips, electricians, and bystanders would gather around Lorre as he told of his escapades with Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, and director John Huston. It was Huston and “The Maltese Falcon” that launched Lorre into the change-of-pace roles of comedy heavies — and he became a master of those too.

Among his other films were “Casablanca,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Mask of Dimitrios,” “Beat the Devil,” and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”


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