Pink Panther veteran Herbert Lom dies

VETERAN actor Herbert Lom, fondly remembered for his roles in the Pink Panther films during his half-century of movie ­appearances, died yesterday at the age of 95.

The Czech-born, London-based star appeared in more than 100 films including classics such as Spartacus, El Cid and The Ladykillers. He died peacefully in his sleep at his London home, his family said.

During his career, Lom portrayed Napoleon Bonaparte on two occasions, one of which was the screen adaptation of Tolstoy’s War And Peace.

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His most famous role was as fed-up and irritable Charles Dreyfus, the boss of Peter Sellers’ bumbling character Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films. He first appeared as the police chief in 1964’s A Shot In The Dark and, as the films went on, his character became increasingly unstable as a result of Clouseau’s incompetence.

He appeared in more than 100 films – playing mostly villains. He once said: “In English eyes all foreigners are sinister.”

In a 2004 interview, the actor revealed it was him who invented Dreyfus’s nervous twitch that became his trademark gesture.

He said: “I started winking out of nervousness, and couldn’t stop. It wasn’t in the script but director Blake Edwards loved it.”