Thursday, 27 September 2012

Every day and in every way, I am getting better, and better.

 So said Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus in The Pink Panther Strikes Again while in the asylum as a result of being in charge of Inspector Clouseau.

Well today the man who played Dreyfus Herbert Lom who portrayed Dreyfus with a more pronounced tic under the strain often related to Clouseau has passed away.

His career spanned 60 years and although he appeared in The Ladykillers, Sparticus and El Cid, it will be always be as Peter Sellers character's nemesis that he will be best remembered.

Lom was born into Austrian nobility in 1917 in Prague, the son of a count. His actual name was Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchacevič ze Schluderpacheru. He chose the name Lom (Czech for quarry) for the Czech films he made at the start of his acting career, because it was the shortest in the phone book.

 But he fled what was to become the Czech Republic in 1939 ahead of the feared Nazi invasion. Making his way to England he appeared as the villain in many 1940s films. But he twice played Napoleon in The Young Mr. Pitt (1942) and War and Peace (1956). He secured a seven picture deal in Holywood but was refused a visa for 'political reasons' so Holywood's lose became British cinema's gain, as he went on to appear in a number of Hammer Horrors including The Phantom of the Opera (1962). Playing the phantom behind a full face mask his precise diction and annunciation were a genius stroke of casting.

He also appeared on the stage in the original London cast of The King and I  he played the King of Siam.

His last film was the 1993 Son of the Pink Panther in which he said:

"I knew a man named Jacques. When he died, ten years ago, I thought "Thank God!" I never thought another one like him could exist... and then I met your son."

However of Sellers he said:

"Peter was always a mixed-up guy, a childish fellow. But if you're fond of children, you're also fond of childish men. He was always very helpful to me. After he was famous, and when I was still in trouble with the US embassy, he wrote a letter in support of me which was magnificent. But it is true that he was very cruel to his children. He was so hurt by the way children treat you when you're their father. I have been hurt by my children. But he was not in possession of a proper brain when it came to these things."

Herbert Lom (né Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchacevič ze Schluderpacheru) 
11 Sept 1917- 27 Sept 2012

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