Clouseau boss in 'Pink Panther' series
HERBERT LOM:HERBERT LOM, who has died aged 95, spent more than 50 years in dramatic roles, playing mostly smooth villains, but he was best known for his portrayal of Charles Dreyfus, the hysterically twitching boss of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) in the series of slapstick Pink Panther comedies.
Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevich ze Schluderpacheru was born into an impoverished aristocratic family in Prague. He studied philosophy at Prague University, where he organised student theatre. In 1939, on the eve of the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, he arrived in Britain with his Jewish girlfriend, Didi, but she was sent back because she did not have the right papers. Her subsequent death in a concentration camp haunted him all his life.
Because of his linguistic abilities, Lom worked for the BBC European Service during the second World War, while building an acting career in British films with his newly shortened name.
In his first British film, Carol Reed's The Young Mr Pitt (1941), he played Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he resembled. It was the first of his three incarnations of, in Lom's words, the "much-maligned gentleman". The others were in War and Peace (1956) and in William Douglas-Home's play Betzi.
With his penetrating brown eyes, saturnine looks and foreign accent, Lom was typecast as psychiatrists or sinister crooks. He failed to get satisfaction from such roles and never had the chance to realise his full potential on screen, but he nevertheless scowled effectively all the way to the bank.
In 1948 he married Dina, with whom he had two sons. The couple divorced in 1971. Lom subsequently married and divorced twice more and had a daughter with the potter Brigitte Appleby.
Alexander Mackendrick's The Ladykillers (1955) was one of the few films Lom looked upon with affection. And he was delighted to be cast as Clouseau's superior in A Shot in the Dark. Lom also wrote two entertaining and scholarly books: Dr Guillotine (1993) and Enter a Spy: The Double Life of Christopher Marlowe (1978).
He is survived by his children.
Herbert Lom: born September 11th, 1917; died September 27th, 2012