Herbert Lom

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Herbert Lom
Herbert Lom.jpg
Born Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru
(1917-09-11)11 September 1917
Prague, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic)
Died 27 September 2012(2012-09-27) (aged 95)
London, England, United Kingdom
Years active 1937–2004
Spouse(s) Dina Schea (m. 1948–71);
two other marriages[1]
Children 3

Herbert Lom (Czech pronunciation: [ɦɛrbɛrt lom]; 11 September 1917 – 27 September 2012) was a Czech-born film and television actor who moved to the United Kingdom in 1939. In a career lasting more than 60 years he appeared in character roles, usually portraying villains early in his career and professional men in later years.

Lom's English was noted for a precise, elegant delivery.[2] He is best known for his roles in The Ladykillers and The Pink Panther film series.

Life and career[edit]

Lom was born Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru in Prague to Karl Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru, and his spouse, the former Olga Gottlieb.[3][4] Lom himself claimed that his family had been ennobled and the family title dated from 1601.[1] Lom's film debut was in the Czech film Žena pod křížem ("A Woman Under Cross") followed by the Boží mlýny ("Mills of God"). His early film appearances were mainly supporting roles, with the occasional top billing. At this time he also changed his impractically long surname - to Lom ("a quarry" in Czech), because it was the shortest he found in a local phone book.

In January 1939, because of the threat of Nazi Germany occupying the rest of Czechoslovakia, Lom escaped to Britain. He made numerous appearances in British films throughout the 1940s, usually in villainous roles, although he later appeared in comedies as well. He managed to escape being typecast as a European heavy by securing a diverse range of castings, including as Napoleon Bonaparte in The Young Mr Pitt (1942), and again in the 1956 version of War and Peace. He secured a seven-picture Hollywood contract after World War II but was unable to obtain an American visa for "political reasons".[5] In a rare starring role, Lom played twin trapeze artists in Dual Alibi (1946).

Lom starred as the King of Siam in the original London production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical, The King and I. Opening at the Drury Lane Theatre on 8 October 1953, it ran for 926 performances.[6] (His co-star who played Anna, Valerie Hobson, was by then married to the British politician John Profumo.) Lom can be heard on the cast recording.

A few years later he appeared opposite Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers in The Ladykillers (1955), and with Robert Mitchum, Jack Lemmon and Rita Hayworth in Fire Down Below (1957). He went on to more film success during the 1960s with a wide range of parts, starting with Spartacus (1960). Subsequent films in this period included El Cid (1961), Mysterious Island (also 1961), playing Captain Nemo, and Hammer Films' remake of The Phantom of the Opera (1962). Again in the leading role, the phantom's mask in this version was full face, which made casting an actor with a reputation for his vocal talents a sensible decision. "It was wonderful to play such a part, but I was disappointed with the picture", Lom says. "This version of the famous Gaston Leroux story dragged. The Phantom wasn't given enough to do, but at least I wasn't the villain, for a change. Michael Gough was the villain."

During this period, Lom starred in his only regular TV series, in the British drama, The Human Jungle (1963–64) as a Harley Street psychiatrist, over two seasons. In addition to The Phantom of the Opera, other low-budget horror films starring Lom included the witchhunting film Mark of the Devil (Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält, 1970), which depicted torture scenes graphically. Reportedly, cinemas handed out sick bags to every patron at screenings of the film.[7]

Lom was perhaps best known for his portrayal of Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus, Inspector Clouseau's long-suffering superior in several of Blake Edwards's Pink Panther films. He also appeared in two different screen versions of the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None. In the 1975 version he played Dr. Armstrong, and later appeared in the 1989 version as General McKenzie.

Lom wrote two historical novels, one on the playwright Christopher Marlowe (Enter a Spy: The Double Life of Christopher Marlowe, 1971) and another on the French Revolution (Dr. Guillotin: The Eccentric Exploits of an Early Scientist, 1992). The film rights to the latter have been purchased but to date no film has been produced.

He died in his sleep on 27 September 2012 at the age of 95.[8]

Quotations[edit]

  • "Peter [Sellers] was always a mixed-up guy, a childish fellow. But if you're fond of children, you're also fond of childish men. He was always very helpful to me. After he was famous, and when I was still in trouble with the US embassy, he wrote a letter in support of me which was magnificent. But it is true that he was very cruel to his children. He was so hurt by the way children treat you when you're their father. I have been hurt by my children. But he was not in possession of a proper brain when it came to these things."[1]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Viner, Brian: Herbert Lom: The Odd Fellow, The Independent, 18 December 2004
  2. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9576908/Herbert-Lom.html
  3. ^ "Flixster.com". Flixster.com. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  4. ^ FilmReference Biography
  5. ^ BBC Radio 4 Interview, 31 October 2008 [1]
  6. ^ Stanley Green, Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, (New York, 1976: Dodd, Mead & Company, rpt. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 1980), p. 233.
  7. ^ "Esplatter.com". Esplatter.com. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Herbert Lom, Pink Panther star, dies aged 95". BBC News. 27 September 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 

External links[edit]