March 23, 2009

A Sad Anniversary

On this date, 45 years ago, Peter Lorre died – a few months before his birthday in June. He was 59.

He was found in his nightclothes, lying on the floor near the window of the bedroom in his small apartment off Hollywood Blvd. Apparently, he had got up to close or open the window and suffered a massive stroke.

He passed without a will or making his final wishes known. He was in the process of divorcing his third wife, Annemarie, the mother of his 10-year-old daughter Catharine.

Two days later, on Mar. 25, Peter was prepared for burial at Pierce Brothers, directly across the street from the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. Vincent Price, then in rehearsal for a guest spot on Red Skelton's TV variety show, got an extra hour off at lunch to deliver the eulogy. Red Skelton closed his show, and he and his cast and crew were among the many attending the funeral.

Peter was cremated and inurned privately at Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery. His niche is in Corridor C of the Alcove of Reverence, in the Abbey of the Psalms, located in the corner of the cemetery closest to Paramount Studios, where he once worked on the 1947 film My Favorite Brunette, with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.

Several rumors about Peter's ashes have been floating around the internet for years. That his urn was stolen is one of them. That Annemarie Lorre, who died in 1971 and was cremated, has her ashes comingled with Peter's. I asked his authorized biographer Stephen Youngkin about that. His response: "I'm sure Peter and Annemarie are in separate urns. So many crazy rumors. No one in the family ever mentioned the ashes being stolen. Not even Cathy."

Stephen's book The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre contains the full text of Peter's eulogy, as delivered by Vincent Price. It's a beautiful testament not only to Peter, but to all actors.

Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery is now known as Hollywood Forever. Tours of the cemetery and the graves of its many famous residents are regularly given by Karie Bible; her website Cemetery Tour gives information about times and prices.

You can leave "virtual" flowers for Peter at his entry on the Find A Grave website.

Rest in peace, Peter Lorre. "In the hearts of those who love you, you will live on."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this!
RIP mr. lorre ;(

Cheryl Morris said...

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.