A "star" of the airwaves: Peter Lorre's appearances in American radio

S. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article argues that within analyses of star performers from the classical Hollywood period, the role played by the medium of radio has been significantly underestimated. Building upon new developments in star discourses which question the role of the cinema as the dominant medium in the creation of star personae, this article examines the relationship between Hollywood and American broadcast media through a study of the multi-medial persona of Peter Lorre in order to suggest that the macabre star persona associated with Lorre has been erroneously attributed to his cinematic career at the expense of a consideration of his radio career. Central to Lorre's public persona was the nature of his employment on American radio between 1936 and 1964. The article discusses the three types of appearances made by the actor: as a star performer in horror programming; his position as host of horror series; and his “celebrity” cameos on popular shows. It explores how Lorre's extensive radio work was reliant upon certain consistent modes of representation which had the potential to greatly influence public awareness of the performer and helped to cement his nefarious star persona to a far greater degree than his film roles or screen performances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-155
Number of pages13
JournalRadio Journal
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2008


  • Peter Lorre
  • radio broadcasting in the United States
  • old time radio
  • horror
  • mystery
  • Hollywood
  • actors
  • star persona
  • 1940s
  • radio performance


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