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Peter Lorre (born Laszlo Lowenstein) was an Austro-Hungarian born (in what is now Slovakia) actor from the 1920s to the 1960s. He was an incredible actor, but because of his small size, odd looks, and thick accent, he was limited in the types of roles he could play. He started out in German movies, and had the starring role in Fritz Lang's "M" in 1931, and in 1933, he left Germany, because he was Jewish and knew he needed to escape the Nazis, and he moved to London, where he made "The Man Who Knew Too Much" for Alfred Hitchcock. Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures, was very taken by Lorre and signed him to a contract, and for eight months, he allowed Lorre to research several projects, trying to find the perfect one for which he would make his Hollywood debut in. But Lorre wanted to make "Kaspar Hauser", and perhaps Cohn did not feel it was commercial enough, because the movie was never made, and then Cohn loaned Lorre to MGM to star in "Mad Love", so ironically, his Hollywood debut was not for Columbia, who had invested so much in him! After making "Crime and Punishment" for Columbia in the U.S. with Josef von Sternberg in 1935, he then returned to England to make "Secret Agent", again with Alfred Hitchcock. He then permanently moved to Hollywood, but Columbia had difficulty finding roles worthy of him, and he left the studio in 1937. He then starred in a series of "Mr. Moto" movies for 20th Century-Fox, where he played a Japanese detective. He was considered for the title role in "Son of Frankenstein", but he didn't want to make another horror movie, but those were mostly all he was being considered for, and he appeared in "Stranger on the Third Floor" and "You'll Find Out" for RKO. He then got another breakout role as Joel Cairo in "The Maltese Falcon" in 1941, and he followed it with another wonderful performance as Ugarte in "Casablanca" the next year, and he appeared in seven more movies with Sidney Greenstreet at Warner Bros. He had another wonderful performance as Dr. Einstein in Frank Capra's "Arsenic and Old Lace" in 1944, a black comedy. His later years did not have as many memorable performances, but he was the very first James Bond villain in the 1954 TV adaptation of "Casino Royale", and he stood out in the 1954 Disney movie "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", and he was wonderful opposite Steve McQueen in the 1960 "Man from the South" episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". In the early 1960s, he made some appearances in Roger Corman movies. He passed away in 1964 at the age of 59.
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