The Lost One:
A Life of
Except where noted, all photos are from the collection
of Stephen Youngkin.
For a larger image, click on the thumbnail.
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Lorre loved dogs. The earliest photo of man and dog
that I have discovered pictures Peter with a spaniel (mid-air) and a
boxer, Berlin, 1932. In Santa Monica, he also kept an Airedale which he
named Gogol. Later, at Mandeville Canyon, Peter and Karen owned an
un-housebroken St. Bernard named Bum.
Lorre shares a snack with a canine friend during the
filming of Secret Agent (Gaumont-British, 1936).
Cast and crew travel to Oie Island by
Söhren-Rügen to make English, French and German film versions
of Kurt Siodmak’s F.P.1. antwortet nicht (Floating
Platform 1 Doesn’t Answer, 1931). Number 1 is Hans Albers,
who co-starred with Lorre in F.P.1 antwortet nicht (1932).
Conrad Veidt (number 2) starred in the English version, F.P. 1.
Peter Lorre, in hat, is number 3, standing in front of Veidt. Shaved
bald for his role in Der weisse D�mon, Peter wore a wig as
“Foto-Johnny” in F.P.1 antwortet nicht.
A close shot of Conrad Veidt and Peter Lorre en route
to Oie Island to film F.P.1. antwortet nicht. Although the
actors appeared in different versions of the film, they developed a
close friendship during the three-month location shoot.
The height difference – exactly one foot –
between Lorre and Conrad Veidt (of Dr. Caligari fame) made
them the perfect Ping-Pong team. A sketch artist captured the fearsome
Doppels-paar at one of their evening matches while Lorre was
filming F.P.1 antwortet nicht (1932) and Veidt was starring in
the English version, F.P.1.
Lorre kept his Ping-Pong skills sharp after coming to
America. Santa Monica, 1935.
Peter Lorre during a lunch break on F.P.1 antwortet
nicht, 1932. The actor’s joke-making – director Karl
Hartl threatened to throw him into the water if he didn’t stop
– carried over to the dinner table. With lightly nuanced stories
and subtle facial expressions, he brought the house down. Without Peter,
said screenwriter Walter Reisch, talking of the three-month shoot on the
island of Greifswalder Oie in the Baltic Sea, it would have been
Lorre came up with nicknames for many of his close
friends and co-workers. Alfred Hitchcock soon became “Hitchy.”
This relaxed moment on the set of The Man Who Knew Too Much
(Gaumont-British, 1934) pictures “Hitchy,” Peter, and
Peter and Celia aboard the Cunard White Star Liner
Majestic bound for New York, mid-July of 1934. Unlike most
émigré artists, Lorre arrived with a film contract in
hand and great expectations for the future.
On the way to Hollywood in July 1934, the Lorres changed
trains in Chicago and, during the hour or so layover, took time to visit
the 1933-34 World’s Fair. Here, Peter tries to light his cigarette
from a snowman in the Black Forest Village while Celia looks on. The
caption noted the Lorres were “thrilled with the fleeting glimpse
they had of the Exposition and [planned] to return later in the
season.” In the early hours of July 27, 1934, they boarded the
Santa Fe Chief and continued their journey to California.
After arriving in America in July, 1934, Peter and
Celia rented a house on 326 Adelaide Drive in Santa Monica. There,
Columbia photographers captured the Lorres reveling in their new
During his first idle months in this country, Lorre
read widely. He kept Edgar Allan Poe’s collected works in German
and also cited Edgar Wallace and Jack London as two of his favorite
authors. When not enjoying an improving book, he hiked the Santa Monica
hills and played badminton with Celia at their home on Adelaide Drive in
While Harry Cohn looked for a screen vehicle to showcase
his new contract player, Lorre had a lot of time – nearly nine
months – on his hands. Always a voracious reader, he curled up with
Jack London, Edgar Wallace and Edgar Allan Poe (in German) when he
wasn’t hiking the Santa Monica Hills, working in the garden, and
playing with his dogs.
Not sure how to sell its new property, Columbia
publicists photographed the many sides of Peter Lorre, in this instance
capturing a serious view of the actor studying a script.
For Peter, it was love at first sight. He later told
Celia that he sat night after night watching her perform the part of
“Desdemona” in Shakespeare’s Othello –
and worshipped. Although the relationship eventually evolved into that
of mother and son, with Celia playing a wide range of roles, it always
preserved the essence of a storybook romance.
Peter and Celia taking a walk in the hills outside
Santa Monica. His head was shaved for his role as “Dr. Gogol”
in Mad Love (1935).
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The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre (2005)
by Stephen Youngkin – now in its third printing and winner of the
Rondo Award for "Best Book of 2005" – is available in bookstores
everywhere, as well as these on-line merchants.
The Films of Peter Lorre (1982), also by
Youngkin, is out of print, but copies may be purchased through Amazon
and Barnes & Noble below. Interested in Lorre's radio and television
performances? Check out Radio Showcase and Movies Unlimited. Netflix has
Lorre movies for rent.
U.S. Amazon – Soft-bound
Amazon U.S. – Hard-Cover
Amazon Canada – Hard-Cover
Amazon Canada – Soft-bound
Amazon U.K. – Soft-bound
Amazon U.K. – Hard-Cover
University Press of Kentucky
Barnes & Noble – Nook and Hard-bound