Hollywood’s Original ‘Bad Boy’ Was Way Too Sinister For The Big Screen

László Löwenstein’s formative years in Austria-Hungary were pretty tough after he arrived in the world in June 1904. But eventually Löwenstein took up a profession that would change his life forever: he became an actor. Soon, his unique persona was causing a stir in Hollywood, and he ultimately made a huge impact on the silver screen. His stage name? Peter Lorre.

A legendary movie villain

Now, if you were to reel off a list of Hollywood’s greatest villains, Lorre would have to be near the top of it. Few actors in the industry have matched his intimidating performances. But the early part of his life was a minefield that he had to carefully navigate before even thinking about his future goals.

Lorre’s younger years

Back in Austria-Hungary during Lorre’s childhood, the future Hollywood star had been the oldest of three kids in his household, and had spent a lot of time with his mom. His dad, meanwhile, was balancing two very different careers — one as a bookkeeper, and another as an army lieutenant. Unfortunately, that meant he didn’t see much of his family.

A tragic loss

Although not ideal, at least to start with Lorre had one parental figure to lean on. Sadly, though, things took a tragic turn when he was just four years old. At that point, his mom suddenly passed away. And there were yet still worse times ahead…

Filling the void

Following the death of his wife, Lorre’s father was hopeful of finding someone to fill the maternal void that she left behind at home: he didn’t want the kids to be alone while he was away. So the widower started a romantic relationship with a woman named Melanie Klein. And she was already very familiar with the family.