'Pink Panther' Actor Herbert Lom Dies

The Czech-born character actor played Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus in the original "Panther" movies.

BERLIN – Herbert Lom, the Czech-born character actor best known for his role as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus in the original Pink Panther films, died on Thursday at the age of 95, The New York Times reported.

Born Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchacevic ze Schluderpacheru in Prague to Czech royalty (his father was a count), Lom fled to London ahead of the Nazis' 1939 invasion. It would be in England that he would find success on stage and screen.

Lom’s career spanned six decades and included roles as varied as one of the gang of incompetent crooks roles in Alexander Mackendrick’s 1955 Brit crime comedy classic The Ladykillers (remade by the Coen Brothers in 2004). He played a pirate captain in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960) and took the title role in the Hammer horror film The Phantom of the Opera (1962). Typical for a foreigner working in Britain at the time, he was often cast as a villain.

But his biggest success came as the long-suffering Dreyfus in the Pink Panther films, playing the increasingly manic straight man to Peter Sellers’ bumbling detective Clouseau. Kevin Klein reprised the role for the rebooted version of the Pink Panther films, but for fans of the franchise, Lom's will always be the definitive Dreyfus.

Lom originated the role of the king in the London debut of the musical the King and I in 1955 and had stints on TV in the '60s in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the U.K. series The Human Jungle.

His other big-screen credits include 1957's Fire Down Below with Rita Hayworth and Robert Mitchum and David Cronenberg's 1983 film The Dead Zone with Christopher Walken.

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