Peter Lorre is most famous for his roles in horror films — most often portraying psychopathic killers.
Lorre portrayed his film roles of villain, sleuth and maniac with suave understatement in tones tinged with the accents of his native Hungary. He was vilest of villains on-screen: the little man with the big crimes.
In 1949 the British Broadcasting Corp. advised parents to send their children to bed before Lorre's image appeared on their television screens in a horror role. "Mr. Lorre will be seen contorting his face in close-up and we fear that children watching the performance in a darkened room would find it too alarming," the BBC said.
But he wasn't always the bad guy. For years he portrayed "Mr. Moto" the inscrutable — and invincible — Japanese detective.
Lorre was born in Rosenberg, Hungary but grew up in Vienna. At 17, he became stage-struck and ran away from home. For 10 years he played bit parts in amateur productions, but in 1931 he got his break. He played a killer in the German film "M," which got him noticed by Hollywood.
His first English-speaking role was in the Hitchcock thriller "The Man Who Knew Too Much," in which Lorre spoke the lines without understanding what they meant. He continued portraying psychopaths until John Huston cast him in a quasi-comic role in "The Maltese Falcon" with Humphrey Bogart and Sidney Greenstreet.
Lorre and Greenstreet formed a partnership for several films, but later broke it off. Some of Lorre's other films include "Casablanca," "Arsenic and Old Lace," "Hotel Berlin" and "The Raven."