Friday, September 28, 2012


"a blithering idiot named Inspector Dreyfus"


Herbert Lom, the actor who played Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther movies and was memorably reduced to eye-twitching madness dealing with Peter Sellers' imbecilic Inspector Clouseau, has died. He was 95.

Lom died Thursday in his sleep at his London home, said the actor's son Alec.

A Czech native who immigrated to England just before the start of World War II, Lom carved out a prolific career that included a starring role as the King of Siam in the original 1953 London production of "The King and I."

He also appeared in scores of films over more than 60 years, including playing a crime-gang member in "The Ladykillers" (1955), Napoleon in "War and Peace" (1956), a pirate chieftain in "Spartacus" (1960) and the title role in the Hammer Films production of "The Phantom of the Opera" (1962).

But he was "badly typecast in British films," Lom told Australia's Daily Telegraph in 1999, "and it needed an American, Blake Edwards, to take me away from endless villainous roles and into the comedy of the Pink Panther films."

Lom's first time out as the long-suffering Charles Dreyfus was in "A Shot in the Dark," the 1964 follow-up to "The Pink Panther," writer-director Edwards' 1963 hit that introduced Sellers as Jacques Clouseau.

"I was invited to have lunch at the Dorchester with Blake Edwards," Lom told the Edinburgh Evening News in 2002. "He told me he had seen me playing heavy villains and thought I was funny.

"At first I didn't take it as a compliment. But then he explained that he did not want a comic actor who would play Dreyfus for laughs."

Lom viewed his involvement in the Pink Panther films playing "a blithering idiot named Inspector Dreyfus," as a highlight of his career.



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