Herbert Lom


Actor
Herbert Lom

About

Also Known As
Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevich Ze Schluderpacheru
Birth Place
Praha, hlavní mesto, CZ
Born
September 11, 1917
Died
September 27, 2012
Cause of Death
Undetermined

Biography

An imposing character actor in American and European features since the 1940s, Herbert Lom played imperious, often villainous continental and ethnic types in "Night and the City" (1950), "The Ladykillers" (1955) and "Spartacus" (1960) before displaying an unexpected gift for physical comedy in the "Pink Panther" films. Lom's trademark was a rich, plummy voice with only a hint of his Czec...

Biography

An imposing character actor in American and European features since the 1940s, Herbert Lom played imperious, often villainous continental and ethnic types in "Night and the City" (1950), "The Ladykillers" (1955) and "Spartacus" (1960) before displaying an unexpected gift for physical comedy in the "Pink Panther" films. Lom's trademark was a rich, plummy voice with only a hint of his Czech origins, which allowed him to play everything from a Muslim chieftain in "El Cid" (1961) to Captain Nemo in "The Mysterious Island" (1961) to Napoleon on two separate occasions. His turn as the apoplectic Chief Inspector Dreyfus, whose frustration with Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau literally drove him insane, gave him international fame, though Lom could be found more frequently in international productions than in Hollywood projects. His career wound down in the early 1990s, but the lasting appeal of the "Panther" franchise made him a favorite among film fans until his death in 2012. Herbert Lom's rich and varied career underscored his status as one of the most versatile character players of the late 20th century.

Born Herbert Karol Angelo Kuchacevic ze Schluderpacheru on Sept. 11, 1917 in Prague, Czech Republic, Herbert Lom was reportedly descended from a line of Czech nobility that dated back to the 17th century. He made his screen debut in the Czech film "Zena pod krizem" ("A Woman Under Cross") (1937), but soon realized that acting roles in his native country were few and far between. Lom headed for London in 1938 to study at the Embassy School of Acting. He received an offer to join the Old Vic Theater, but the outbreak of World War II spurred him to take an announcing job with the BBC's Czech and German section. After the war, Lom became a British citizen and returned to drama school before making his U.K. screen debut in Carol Reed's "The Young Mr. Pitt" (1942) as Napoleon Bonaparte, a role he reprised in 1956's "War and Peace." He soon settled into a steady diet of supporting turns as mysterious foreigners, often with unseemly intent, which were given dramatic weight by his sonorous voice and intensely staring eyes. A sympathetic turn as a psychiatrist who came to the aid of a suicidal patient (Ann Todd) in "The Seventh Veil" (1945) led to a seven-picture contract with 20th Century Fox, but his U.S. visa was refused upon his arrival at the embassy. Lom would later state that he believed that anti-Communist sentiment contributed to his unwarranted blacklisting.

Though he worked steadily in British features and television, most notably as a vicious gangster in Jules Dassin's "Night and the City" (1950), Lom's big break did not come until 1953, when he was cast as the King of Siam in the West End production of "The King and I." He received stellar performances for his turn in the show, which ran for over 900 performances. Lom's film career soon began to gain traction as well, following turns as a malevolent gangster in the classic Ealing Studios comedy "The Ladykillers" (1955), which co-starred a young Peter Sellers. Lom was soon a familiar face to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, playing supporting turns in major productions like "Spartacus" (1960) and "El Cid" (1961). There were also occasional leads, most notably as the sympathetic title role in Hammer Films' overripe version of "The Phantom of the Opera" (1962) and as an imposing Captain Nemo in "The Mysterious Island" (1961), which featured special effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. During this period, Lom also starred in his only weekly television series, playing a psychiatrist on "The Human Jungle" (ITV, 1963-64).

Lom began his long association with the "Pink Panther" films with its second entry, "A Shot in the Dark" (1964). As Commissioner (later Chief Inspector) Charles Dreyfus, Lom fumed with volcanic fury over the bungling of Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau, whose penchant for physical mayhem often resulted in injury to Dreyfus. The series would remain inactive for the next decade, during which Lom divided his time between Hollywood efforts like "Return from the Ashes" (1965) and "Gambit" (1966) and low-budget international pictures like "Mark of the Devil" (1970) and "Count Dracula" (1970), which cast him as Professor Van Helsing opposite Christopher Lee's vampire king. His association with these films led to regular work in the genre, including the portmanteau film "Asylum" (1972), in which he was menaced by a doll-sized version of himself, and "And Now the Screaming Stars" (1973), with Peter Cushing.

Lom returned to the "Panther" series with "The Return of the Pink Panther" (1975), which promoted his character from supporting status to one of its leads. Dreyfus also enjoyed a substantial character arc that saw him finally break down after years of frustration with Clouseau, resulting in his commitment to an asylum. Lom's manic fits, highlighted by an uncontrollable giggle and an eye tic improvised by the actor himself, were among the film's most uproarious moments. Dreyfus would escape his confinement in the next "Panther" film, "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" (1976), which saw him create a doomsday weapon to defeat the seemingly indestructible Clouseau. Lom would play Dreyfus again in the decidedly lesser "Revenge of the Pink Panther" (1978) and again in "Trail of the Pink Panther" (1982) and "Curse of the Pink Panther" (1983), both of which were constructed by new segments built around unused footage of Peter Sellers, who had died in 1980.

Lom significantly reduced his screen time in the 1980s, though his roles during this period were often in quality projects. He was a sardonic KGB agent in pursuit of Walter Matthau's rogue CIA operative in Ronald Neame's "Hopscotch" (1980) and a kindly neurologist in David Cronenberg's 1983 adaptation of Stephen King's "The Dead Zone." But as the decade wore on, he was frequently the best thing about a string of dreadful low-budget efforts, including "King Solomon's Mines" (1985) with Richard Chamberlain, and the ill-fated "The Pope Must Die(t)" (1991). He would reprise Dreyfus one last time in "Son of the Pink Panther" (1993), which starred Roberto Begnini as Clouseau's illegitimate offspring, before making his final screen appearance in "Marple: Murder at the Vicarage" (ITV/WGBH, 2004). Lom died in his sleep at the age of 95 on Sept. 27, 2012. In addition to his acting career, he penned two historical novels, Enter a Spy: The Double Life of Christopher Marlowe (1971) and Dr. Guillotin: The Eccentric Exploits of an Early Scientist (1992).

By Paul Gaita

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Marco Polo (2000)
Blake Edwards' Son of the Pink Panther (1993)
Inspector Dreyfus
The Sect (1991)
Gran Vecchio
The Masque of the Red Death (1991)
The Pope Must Diet (1991)
The Crystal Eye (1989)
Ten Little Indians (1989)
River of Death (1989)
Whoops Apocalypse (1988)
General Mosquera
Skeleton Coast (1988)
Memed My Hawk (1987)
Ali Safa Bey
Going Bananas (1987)
King Solomon's Mines (1985)
Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)
The Dead Zone (1983)
Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)
The Man with Bogart's Face (1980)
Hopscotch (1980)
The Lady Vanishes (1979)
Dr Hartz
Revenge of The Pink Panther (1978)
Chief Inspector Dreyfus
Charleston (1978)
Inspector Watkins
The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)
Ten Little Indians (1975)
The Return Of The Pink Panther (1975)
Chief Inspector Dreyfus
And Now The Screaming Starts (1973)
Dark Places (1973)
Prescott
Asylum (1972)
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971)
Rene Marot
Dorian Gray (1970)
Henry Wotton
Count Dracula (1970)
Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969)
Dr. Hassler
Uncle Tom's Cabin (1969)
Simon Legree
99 Women (1969)
The governor
Assignment To Kill (1969)
Matt Wilson
Villa Rides (1968)
Huerta
Eve (1968)
Diego
The Karate Killers (1967)
Gambit (1966)
Shahbandar
Treasure of Silver Lake (1965)
Colonel [Cornel?] Brinkley
Return From the Ashes (1965)
Dr. Charles Bovard
No Tree in the Street (1964)
Wilkie
A Shot in the Dark (1964)
Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus
Tiara Tahiti (1963)
Chong Sing
The Frightened City (1962)
Waldo Zhernikov
The Phantom of the Opera (1962)
Phantom
I Like Money (1962)
Castel Benac
El Cid (1961)
Ben Yussuf
Mysterious Island (1961)
Captain Nemo
I Aim at the Stars (1960)
Anton Reger
Spartacus (1960)
Tigranes
Flame Over India (1960)
Intent to Kill (1959)
Juan Menda
The Big Fisherman (1959)
Herod-Antipas
Third Man on the Mountain (1959)
Emil Saxo
Passport to Shame (1959)
The Roots of Heaven (1958)
Orsini
I Accuse! (1958)
Major Du Paty de Clam
Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958)
[Policeman] Vargas
Fire Down Below (1957)
Harbour master
Action of the Tiger (1957)
Trifon
HELL DRIVERS (1957)
Gino
Star of India (1956)
Narbonne
War and Peace (1956)
Napoleon Bonaparte
The Ladykillers (1955)
Twist of Fate (1954)
Emile Landosh
Shoot First (1953)
[Peter] Sandorski
Paris Express (1953)
Julius de Koster, Jr.
The Net (1953)
The Love Lottery (1953)
Whispering Smith vs. Scotland Yard (1952)
Roger Ford
The Ringer (1952)
Maurice Meister
Hell Is Sold Out (1951)
Mr. Denning Drives North (1951)
The Black Rose (1950)
Anthemus
Night and the City (1950)
Kristo
Cage Of Gold (1950)
Rahman
State Secret (1950)
The Golden Salamander (1949)
The Lost People (1949)
The Brass Monkey (1948)
Good Time Girl (1948)
Portait From Life (1948)
Hotel Reserve (1945)
Andre Roux
The Seventh Veil (1945)
Dr. Larsen
The Young Mr. Pitt (1943)
Napolean [Bonaparte]
The Dark Tower (1943)
Secret Mission (1942)
Mein Kampf, My Crimes (1940)

Cast (Special)

Scoop (1990)
Baldwin
The Horse Without a Head (1963)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Lace (1984)
Monsieur Chardin
Peter and Paul (1981)

Life Events

1937

Feature acting debut, the Czech drama "Zena pod krízem"

1939

Moved to England

1942

English language debut, portraying Napoleon in "The Young Mr. Pitt"

1945

Cast as a psychiatrist in "The Seventh Veil"

1950

Played a gangster in Jules Dassin's noir masterpiece "Night and the City"

1951

Made West End stage debut in "The Seventh Veil"

1955

Made comedic turn in opposite Peter Sellers and Alec Guiness in "The Ladykillers"

1955

Originated the role of the king in original London cast of the musical "The King and I"

1956

Once again portrayed Napoleon in "War and Peace" opposite Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda

1963

Made series acting debut on British psychiatric drama "The Human Jungle"

1964

Cast as the fed-up boss Chief Inspector Dreyfus opposite Peter Sellers' bumbling Inspector Clouseau in "A Shot in the Dark"

1970

Played Van Helsing opposite Christopher Lee's "Count Dracula"

1971

Wrote the historical novel <i>Enter a Spy: The Double Life of Christopher Marlowe</i>

1975

Reprised Dreyfus role in "The Return of the Pink Panther" and subsequent films until Seller's death in 1980

1982

First film as Dreyfus without Sellers, "Trail of the Pink Panther"

1983

Played the neurologist to a telekinetic Christopher Walken in "The Dead Zone," directed by David Cronenberg and adapted from Stephen King's novel

1985

Appeared in critically panned remake of "King Solomon's Mines"

1991

Landed minor role in comedy "The Pope Must Diet"

1992

Published the French Revolution novel <i>Dr. Guillotin: The Eccentric Exploits of an Early Scientist</i>

1993

Returned as Dreyfus opposite Roberto Benigni in "Son of the Pink Panther"

2004

Final onscreen acting appearance, "Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage" (ITV)

Photo Collections

Mysterious Island (1961) - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Columbia's Mysterious Island (1961), featuring special effects by Ray Harryhausen. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Mysterious Island (1961) - Listen Captain Nemo After the pirate ship sinks, Herbert and Elena (Michael Callan, Beth Rogan) rush back, then Captain Nemo (Herbert Lom) finally emerges, conversing with Spillett, Lady Mary and Captain Harding (Gary Merrill, Joan Greenwood, Michael Craig), over an hour into Mysterious Island, 1961.
Pink Panther Strikes Again, The - 40 Winks Satisfied that man-servant Cato (Burt Kwouk) is not lurking, and unaware of Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) stalking from downstairs, Clouseau (Peter Sellers) settles in for a nap in The Pink Panther Strikes Again 1976.
Gambit (1966) - Will She Cooperate? In the opening we followed Michael Caine, as English Harry, into a Hong Kong club where Shirley MacLaine performs in the revue, and now after the show he reveals to friend Emile (John Abbott) the scheme, and we meet Roger C. Carmel as obsequious Ram, in director Ronald Neame’s Gambit, 1966.
Shot In The Dark, A (1964) - Back On The Case Snoozing Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) inevitably leads to his first clash with his man Kato (Burt Kwouk), and a call from the boss (Herbert Lom), in Blake Edwards' first Pink Panther sequel, A Shot In The Dark, 1964.
Gambit (1967) - I Had To Have Her We don’t know at this point that we’re seeing the caper only as it plays out in the imagination of thief Harry (Michael Caine), in which Arab potentate Shabandar (Herbert Lom) is wholly entranced by the resemblance of Shirley MacLaine, as taxi-dancer Nicole, to his late wife, in Gambit, 1966.
Chase A Crooked Shadow (1958) - My Brother's Dead! Officer Vargas (Herbert Lom) on Spain's Costa Brava, taking a call from emotionally fragile South African heiress Kimberley (Anne Baxter), trying to deal with Richard Todd, just arrived, insisting he's her brother, early in Chase A Crooked Shadow, 1958.
Night And The City (1950) - Real Greco-Roman Shady up and coming London wrestling promoter Harry (Richard Widmark) receives angry big-time rival Kristo (Herbert Lom) and his lawyer (Aubrey Dexter), then springs his new partner and secret weapon (Stanislaus Zybyszko), in Jules Dassin's Night And The City, 1950.
Seventh Veil, The (1945) - She Will Talk To Me Opening sequence finds Francesca (Ann Todd) hospitalized, then psychiatrist Larsen (Herbert Lom) leading the conversation with Parker (Ernest Davies), in The Seventh Veil, 1945, from an original story by producer Sydney and wife Muriel Box.
Ladykillers, The (1955) - There's No Driver Here Nice location shooting around the old Kings Cross coal drop in London, and almost surprising competence from Alec Guinness (as Professor Marcus) and crew (Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Danny Green, Cecil Parker) executing their heist, Alexander Mackendrick directing the Ealing Studios hit The Ladykillers, 1955.
Ladykillers, The (1955) - You Must Be Professionals Scheming thieves (Alec Guinness as "Professor Marcus," with Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Danny Green, Cecil Parker) leap to their string quartet ruse when landlady Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) appears, in The Ladykillers, 1955.
Our Man In Marrakesh (1966) - Open, Airport Klaus Kinski the nameless villain dominates this opening in Casablanca, then arrivals (Helen Sanguineti, Wilfrid Hyde-White and stars Tony Randall and Senta Berger) boarding the bus, opening the spy-spoof Our Man In Marrakesh, a.k.a. Bang! Bang! You're Dead 1966.
I Accuse! (1958) - Your Hand Is Trembling Bald here and not yet Inspector Closeau's boss, Herbert Lom (as Major Du Paty) administers a handwriting test to an unwitting Captain Dreyfus (Jose Ferrer, who also directed), whose innocence is long since established, early in I Accuse!, 1958.

Trailer

Pink Panther Strikes Again, The (1976) -- (Original Trailer) Featuring scripted participation by Herbert Lom as his now driven-bonkers former boss, Peter Sellers with many gags and co-stars (Burk Kwouk as Cato, Lesley-Anne Down as Olga) in the theatrical trailer for his fifth (and last-completed) Inspector Clouseau movie, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, 1976.
Return Of The Pink Panther, The (1975) -- (Original Trailer) Original trailer for the hit revival-sequel, initiated by Sir Lew Grade, produced and directed by Blake Edwards, and starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseay, The Return Of The Pink Panther, 1975.
Dark Tower, The - (Original Trailer) Herbert Lom (Inspector Dreyfuss in The Pink Panther movies) plays an evil hypnotist in The Dark Tower (1943).
Gambit - (Original Trailer) A man (Michael Caine) dreams of the perfect robbery but can't seem to pull it off in Gambit (1966) co-starring Shirley MacLaine.
War And Peace (1956) - (Original Trailer) Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda star in King Vidor's massive adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic War And Peace (1956).
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971) - (Original Trailer) A Parisian theater owner producing a Grand Guignol play discovers a string of murders on set in Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971).
Karate Killers, The - (Original Trailer) The men from U.N.C.L.E. fight off The Karate Killers (1967) to track down a secret formula that can turn sea water into gold.
Revenge of the Pink Panther - (Original Trailer) Peter Sellars gave his last performance as Inspector Clouseau in Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978).
Night and the City - (Original Trailer) A London hustler (Richard Widmark) has ambitious plans that never work out in Night and the City (1950).
Intent to Kill - (Original Trailer) An unhappily married doctor operates on a South American dictator in Intent To Kill (1959).
Action Of The Tiger - (Original Trailer) Van Johnson goes into Communist Albania and tangles with a young Sean Connery in Action Of The Tiger (1957).
Return from the Ashes - (Original Trailer) A gigolo (Maximilian Schell) marries a wealthy widow, seduces her stepdaughter and plots to kill them both in Return from the Ashes (1965).

Bibliography