August 13, 2014

Lorre Co-Star Lauren Bacall Passes

Lauren Bacall passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. She was 89 years old. She is the most recent of Peter Lorre’s fellow actors to reach the end of life. But if not for Peter Lorre, Ms. Bacall might never have married Humphrey Bogart, the leading man of her life and her first movie, To Have and Have Not (1944).

Bogie was one of Peter’s two closest friends (the other was German playwright Bertolt Brecht), and he was worried about the 25-year age difference between himself and the woman he was falling in love with. “She’s just a kid,” Bogie told Peter. “It will never last.”

Said Peter, “So what’s the difference? Five good years is better than none.”

Bogie took the advice. In 1945, Bogie and Bacall married, had two children, and a very happy life to Bogart’s death in 1957.

The new Mrs. Humphrey Bogart then worked with Peter in the spy thriller Confidential Agent (1945), starring Charles Boyer. It was Lauren Bacall’s third movie, her second released.

In an interview with film historian Leonard Maltin, Ms. Bacall said of Peter, “Funny, very analytical. A very complicated, fascinating man.”

Other Peter Lorre Co-Stars . . .

Robin Williams – Actor-comedian Robin Williams passed on Aug. 11, 2014. He never worked with Peter Lorre, but as he revealed in a TV Guide interview during his Mork and Mindy days in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Peter was one of his favorite actors. An imitation of Peter was part of Williams’ comedy act. In the animated film Aladdin (1992), Williams as the genie uses Lorre’s voice to explain to Aladdin one of the rules about making wishes – “I can’t bring back the dead.”

Joan Lorring – Actress Joan Lorring passed on May 30, 2014. Ms. Lorring was unique among Peter’s co-stars. In two movies for Warner Bros. – Three Strangers (1945) and The Verdict (1946) – she played Peter’s love interest.

Peter was not considered a leading man in Hollywood. Standing only five feet, five inches, he had large eyes and a soft, nasal voice, not the attributes of a typical Hollywood lover in films of the 1930s and 1940s. where Clark Gable and Cary Grant set audience expectations. And though he was more than capable of carrying a movie on his own, he was usually cast in a secondary role.

But like several of the actresses who worked with Peter, Joan Lorring found she was not immune to his charms. Admitting in interviews she developed a crush on the actor and started wearing short skirts more often to the studio, slacks less often, she added, “I can’t tell you how that looked!”

Mickey Rooney – Child star and long-time movie favorite Mickey Rooney passed on Apr. 6, 2014. Rooney co-starred with Peter in the independent movie Quicksand (1950).

Oswald Morris – Award-winning British cinematographer Oswald Morris passed on Mar. 17, 2014. Morris was the cinematographer on Beat the Devil (1954), Peter Lorre’s final movie with his old friend Humphrey Bogart and his first Warner Bros. director John Huston.

Joan Fontaine – Actress Joan Fontaine passed on Dec. 15, 2013. She first appeared with Peter Lorre in the Warner Bros movie The Constant Nymph (1943), playing the younger sister of Brenda Marshall, who loves and marries Peter’s character, Fritz Bercovy. Long tied up in legal problems, The Constant Nymph now plays regularly on the Turner Classic Movies channel. Years later, in the early 1960s, Ms. Fontaine co-starred with Peter in the 20th Century-Fox film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961).

Richard Matheson – Screenwriter and author of numerous mystery and suspense works, Richard Matheson passed on June 23, 2013. Matheson wrote the scripts for several of Peter’s movies at American International Pictures in the early 1960s: Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), and The Comedy of Terrors (1964).

Annette Funicello – Mouseketeer, singer, and co-star with Frankie Avalon in the “Beach Party” movie series at American International Pictures, Annette Funicello passed on April 8, 2013. The second entry in her popular “Beach” movies was one of Peter’s final films. Muscle Beach Party (1964) was playing in theaters the day newspapers carried Peter’s obituary on Mar. 23, 1964.

Turhan Bey – Actor Turhan Bey passed on Sept. 30, 2012. In Background to Danger (1943), he had only one scene with Peter, as George Raft’s associate who joins Raft at the Zaleshoffs’ hide-out.

Andy Williams – Singer Andy Williams passed on Sept. 25, 2012. He and his three older brothers formed a quartet called the Williams Brothers and, in the late 1940s, began working in nightclubs with singer Kay Thompson. Billed as “Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers”, the group appeared on Bing Crosby’s radio show, Philco Radio Time, on Nov. 12, 1947. Peter Lorre was Bing’s special guest that week.

Tony Martin – Singer and actor Tony Martin passed on July 27, 2012. Martin played thief Pepe Le Moko to Peter’s Inspector Slimane in the Universal Studio musical Casbah (1948).

His beloved wife, dancer Cyd Charisse, passed years earlier on June 17, 2008. She appeared with Peter in his only singing-and-dancing role in the Fred Astaire musical Silk Stockings (1957) for MGM.

Mike Wallace – Reporter Mike Wallace passed on April 7, 2012. Host of the 30-minute TV show The Mike Wallace Interview, Wallace interviewed Peter on March 8, 1960.

In the pages of The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre, author Stephen D. Youngkin interviewed many of people who knew and worked with Peter. Joan Lorring, Tony Martin, Oswald Morris, and Richard Matheson all shared their memories of Peter on-set.

The Lost One is available in soft-bound and hard-back editions, as well as the Kindle and Nook.

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