Herbert Lom: An Appreciation

My life long friend John “Mace” Macak has drafted up a short tribute to the great Czech-American actor Herbert Lom, who passed this last week. Many times I have laughed with Mace, watching the interplay between Clouseau and Dreyfus ~

Herbert Lom, that diminutive (not really, he was 5’9″) actor whose career spanned 7 decades, and punctuated with roles as Napoleon Bonaparte to Captain Nemo, passed away September 27 at the age of 95. I could spend all day talking about his decades long career, but I’m not -I’m going to talk about a couple of my favorite characters eloquently brought to life by Lom.

Captain Nemo, the morose captain of the submarine Nautilus, who longs for better days and a better world. Nemo becomes the unwilling Savior of the castaways marooned on the Mysterious Island and makes the ultimate sacrifice so the other are able to escape the doomed island.

Lom’s characterization of Nemo makes a person wants to sympathize with him. Here’s a man whose best days are behind him and a better future doesn’t exist for him, therefore he just wants to be left alone, forgotten by the rest of the world. But his idyllic, although lonely, world is shattered by the arrival of the castaways and the imminent destruction of his island.

Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus. Without a doubt, Lom’s most famous (infamous) and most beloved character. C.I. Dreyfus first appeared on screen in the movie A Shot in the Dark, as the boss of the inept Inspector Clouseau. Lom reprised the role of C.I. Dreyfus another six times in the Pink Panther series of movies, becoming Clouseau’s arch nemesis.

Diabolical, criminal mastermind, evil genius, or just plain Insane -however one might classify C.I. Dreyfus, Lom oftentimes stole the scene from Peter Sellers, a well known scene stealer himself.

Herbert Lom : 1917 – 2012 You shall be missed.


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