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

(1917-09-11)11 September 1917
Died27 September 2012(2012-09-27) (aged 95)
OccupationActor
Years active1937–2002
Spouse(s)
Dina Schea
(m. 1948; div. 1961)

Eve Lacik
(m. 1962; div. 1990)
Children3

Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru (11 September 1917 – 27 September 2012), known professionally as Herbert Lom (Czech pronunciation: [ɦɛrbɛrt lom]), was a Czech–born British actor who moved to the United Kingdom in 1939. In a career lasting more than 60 years, he generally appeared in character roles, often portraying criminals or suave villains in his younger years, and professional men as he aged. Highly versatile, he proved a skilled comic actor in The Pink Panther franchise.

Lom was noted for his precise, elegant enunciation of English.[1] He is best known for his roles in The Ladykillers, The Pink Panther film series, War and Peace and the television series The Human Jungle.

Early life and education

Lom was born Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru in Prague to Karl Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru, and Olga Gottlieb, who 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 Šumava, with his income mainly deriving from two restaurants and a guest house; 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 Žižkov before moving to Vysočany, subsequently living at Vinohrady, then Nové Město, 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.[5]

Career

His 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 ("breakage" or "quarry" 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 in 1938–39, Lom emigrated to Britain in January 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 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".[6] 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.[7] Lom 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 during the 1960s with a wide range of parts, starting with Spartacus (1960). Subsequent films in this period included El Cid (1961), Mysterious Island (also 1961), playing Captain Nemo, and Hammer Films' remake of The Phantom of the Opera (1962). Again in the leading role, the phantom's mask in this version was full-face. "It was wonderful to play such a part, but I was disappointed with the picture", Lom later said. "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. Another low-budget horror film starring Lom was the witch-hunting film Mark of the Devil (Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält, 1970), which depicted unusually graphic torture scenes. Cinemas reportedly handed out sick bags to patrons at screenings of the film.[8] He 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 several of Blake Edwards' Pink Panther films, beginning with the second film 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. In the 1975 version, he played Dr. Armstrong, and later appeared in the 1989 version as General Romensky.

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 to date no film has been produced.

Personal life

Lom married Dina Schea in 1948, having two children together before they divorced in 1971. He had a child from a relationship with Brigitta Appleby. He later married Eve Lacik, divorcing in 1990.[1]

Lom died in his sleep at his home in Camden, London[9] on 27 September 2012 at the age of 95.[10]

Selected filmography

Voice work

References

  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". abchistory.cz. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  6. ^ BBC Radio 4 Interview, 31 October 2008 [1]
  7. ^ Stanley Green, Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, (New York, 1976: Dodd, Mead & Company, rpt. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 1980), p. 233.
  8. ^ "Esplatter.com". Esplatter.com. Archived from the original on 16 November 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  9. ^ "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.)
  10. ^ "Herbert Lom, Pink Panther star, dies aged 95". BBC News. 27 September 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012.