Herbert Lom
Lom in a 1940s publicity photo
Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru

(1917-09-11)11 September 1917
Died27 September 2012(2012-09-27) (aged 95)
  • British
  • Czech
Years active1937–2002
  • Dina Schea
    (m. 1948; div. 1979)
  • Eve Lacik
    (div. 1990)

Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru (11 September 1917 – 27 September 2012), known professionally as Herbert Lom (Czech pronunciation: [ɦɛrbɛrt lom]), was a Czech-British actor with a career spanning over 60 years. His cool demeanour and precise, elegant elocution[1] saw him cast as criminals or suave villains in his younger years, and professional men and nobles as he aged. Highly versatile, he also proved a skilled comic actor in The Pink Panther franchise, playing the beleaguered Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus in seven films.

Lom’s other notable films included The Ladykillers (1955), War and Peace (1956), Spartacus (1960), El Cid (1961), Mysterious Island (also 1961), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and The Dead Zone (1983). He also originated the role of the King of Siam in the original West End production of The King and I, and starred on the 1960s television drama The Human Jungle.

Early life and education

Lom was born in Prague to Karl Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru and Olga Gottlieb. His mother was of Jewish ancestry.[2] His ancestor, Christian Schluderpacher, a burgher of Bozen, was ennobled in 1601.[3][4][2] Lom's family were comfortable, but not grandly aristocratic. His grandfather owned property in Prague and the Bohemian Forest, with his income deriving mainly from two restaurants and a guest house.[5] Lom's father, as a younger son, inherited little, supporting his family by variously running a printing business, a car repair shop, and trying to establish himself as an art agent. The family lived at various Prague city quarters: Žižkov before moving to Vysočany, subsequently lived at Vinohrady, then New Town, where Lom attended a famous German grammar school. He studied philosophy for some time at the German University in Prague, but ceased his studies to become an actor.[6]


Lom's film debut was in the Czech film Žena pod křížem ("A Woman Under Cross", 1937) followed by the Boží mlýny ("Mills of God", 1938). His early film appearances were mainly supporting roles, with the occasional top billing. At this time he also changed his surname to Lom ("quarry" or "breakage" in Czech) because it was the shortest he found in a local telephone directory.[citation needed]

Due to the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany, Poland and Hungary in 1938–39, Lom immigrated to Britain in 1939. He made numerous appearances in British films throughout the 1940s, usually in villainous roles, although he later appeared in comedies as well. Despite his mother's Jewish ancestry, Lom's parents survived to join him in England.

Despite Lom's accent, he managed to escape being typecast as a European heavy by securing a diverse range of casting, including as Napoleon Bonaparte in The Young Mr. Pitt (1942), and again in the King Vidor version of War and Peace (1956). He secured a seven-picture Hollywood contract after World War II, but was unable to obtain an American visa for "political reasons".[7] In a rare starring role, Lom played twin trapeze artists in Dual Alibi (1946).

Lom starred as the King of Siam in the original London production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The King and I. Opening at the Drury Lane Theatre on 8 October 1953, it ran for 926 performances.[8] He can be heard on the cast recording. A few years later, he appeared opposite Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers in The Ladykillers (1955); and with Robert Mitchum, Jack Lemmon and Rita Hayworth in Fire Down Below (1957). He went on to more film success in the 1960s with a wide range of parts, including Spartacus (1960); El Cid (1961); Mysterious Island (also 1961), as Captain Nemo; and Hammer Films' remake of The Phantom of the Opera (1962), in which Lom had the leading role, wearing a full-face Phantom mask. "It was wonderful to play such a part," he said, "but I was disappointed with the picture... This version of the famous Gaston Leroux story dragged. The Phantom wasn't given enough to do, but at least I wasn't the villain, for a change. Michael Gough was the villain." [citation needed]

During this period, Lom starred in his only regular TV series, the British drama The Human Jungle (1963–64), playing a Harley Street psychiatrist for two series. He starred in another low-budget horror film, the witch-hunting story Mark of the Devil (Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält, 1970), with unusually graphic torture scenes. Cinemas reportedly handed out sick bags at screenings.[9] Lom appeared in other horror films made in both the US and UK, including Asylum, And Now the Screaming Starts!, Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Dead Zone.

Lom was perhaps best known for his portrayal of Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus, Inspector Clouseau's long-suffering superior, in most of Blake Edwards' Pink Panther films, beginning with the second in the series, A Shot in the Dark (1964). He also appeared in two screen versions of the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None—as Dr. Armstrong in the 1975 version, and as General Romensky in the 1989 version.

Lom wrote two historical novels: one on the playwright Christopher Marlowe (Enter a Spy: The Double Life of Christopher Marlowe, 1978), and the other on the French Revolution (Dr Guillotine: The Eccentric Exploits of an Early Scientist, 1992). The film rights to the latter have been purchased, but no film has yet been produced.

Personal life

Lom married Diana Scheu in 1948. They had two children before they divorced after separating between 1961 and 1976. He had a child from a relationship with Brigitta Appleby. He later married Eve Lacik; they divorced in 1990.[1]

Lom died in his sleep at his home in Camden Town, London[10] on 27 September 2012, at the age of 95.[11]

Selected filmography

Voice work


  1. ^ a b "Film Obituaries: Herbert Lom". The Daily Telegraph. 27 September 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b Viner, Brian (18 December 2004). "Herbert Lom: The Odd Fellow". The Independent. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  3. ^ Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, 125th edition, Adelslexikon, vol. 12, Rol-Schm, ed. Hans Friedrich von Ehrenkrook, C. A. Starke, 2002, p. 503
  4. ^ "AT-OeStA/AVA Adel RAA 372.29 Schluderpacher, Christian, Bürger zu Bozen, Wappen mit Krone und Lehenartikel, 1601.08.01 (Akt (Sammelakt, Grundzl., Konvolut, Dossier, File))".
  5. ^ "Herec Herbert Lom a šlechta rodu Kuchačevich ze Schluderpacheru". 9 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Herec Herbert Lom a šlechta rodu Kuchačevich ze Schluderpacheru". abchistory.cz. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  7. ^ BBC Radio 4 Interview, 31 October 2008 [1]
  8. ^ Stanley Green, Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, (New York, 1976: Dodd, Mead & Company, rpt. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 1980), p. 233.
  9. ^ "Esplatter.com". Esplatter.com. Archived from the original on 16 November 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Lom, Herbert (1917–2012)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/105645. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ "Herbert Lom, Pink Panther star, dies aged 95". BBC News. 27 September 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012.