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Catherine Lorre Escaped the Hillside Stranglers to Die Young

Have you heard about Catherine Lorre? She was the only daughter of actor Peter Lorre and his wife Anne Marie Brenning.

While she isn’t well-known, her father Peter Lorre was easily one of cinema’s greatest actors. He was a noted character actor who appeared in great films including M, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and Casino Royale – among many others!

His marriage to Anne Marie Brenning, unfortunately, had its troubles. Young Catherine Lorre was born in 1953 a few months after her parents’ marriage.

Sadly, her childhood was tumultuous as a result of her parent’s failing marriage. If that didn’t seem stressful enough, she probably didn’t expect that in 1977…she’d get abducted!

Within just a few years of their marriage, Peter Lorre and Anne Marie Brenning were having issues. They eventually divorced in 1962 when their daughter was only 9 years old.

Two years later, Peter Lorre would die from a stroke. Anne Marie later died in 1971 due to complications from her alcoholism. One cannot imagine the strain that young Catherine had to go through.

It’s difficult for any child to deal with warring parents. To lose both your parents at such a young age is traumatic to say the least.

To make matter worse, no one seemed willing to care for Catherine after both her parents passed away. Eventually, Celia Lovsky – Peter’s first wife, intervened. She offered film critic James Powers to move into the upstairs area of her home. The one condition was that he had to adopt Catherine.

He agreed and cared for Catherine. She spent her time with James Powers and Celia Lovsky and served as a connection to the Lorre family.

Life seemed a bit more stable, but it wasn’t perfect. Her life was still filled with trauma.

Then, one day in 1977, she experienced perhaps the most traumatic experience of her life…

Before we tell you more about Catherine Lorre and the Hillside Gang, please like this video and subscribe to our channel for more unique and fascinating stories. Now, back to the video…

One night in 1977, Catherine was approached by two strange men. They were Angelo Buono Jr. and Kenneth A. Bianchi. These two cousins had devious intentions.

Kenneth had moved to Los Angeles to live with Angelo. The two young men had an unhealthy obsession for women and decided that no one would miss young women if they suddenly disappeared.

They eventually began to abduct, rape, and murder women. Between October 1977 and February 1978, a total of ten young women were victims to what the media dubbed as the “Hillside Gang” or the “Hillside Strangler.”

The disappearance of these young women caused widespread panic, though no one could surmise who the culprit or culprits were.

One day, Angelo and Kenneth managed to come across a young lady wandering on her own. They abducted her and intended to do the same with her as they had with their other victims.

The 25-year-old woman revealed that she was Catherine Lorre, the daughter of the late actor Peter Lorre. This stopped Angelo and Kenneth dead in their tracks. The cousins were huge cinema buffs and loved Peter Lorre’s work.

They let Catherine go – her life was spared because of her father. She didn’t make too many public statements regarding her abductors. That is, until she realized that they were the notorious Hillside Gang.

During a period of four months, the cousins would kidnap women and then take them to Buono’s home. They would rape the women, murder them and then wash the bodies clear of evidence. They would then dump the bodies in various locations around Los Angeles. Most of the time, the bodies were dumped on hillsides.

Eventually, Kenneth left Los Angeles to move to Washington State. Though he was now on his own, he still couldn’t control his wicked urges. He murdered two college students and this would lead to him getting caught.

There were witness statements connecting these two college students to Kenneth Bianchi. The police also found similarities with these two murders and the ten murders committed by the Hillside Gang. Eventually, Kenneth confessed to all the murders and revealed that Angelo was his accomplice.

Both men received life imprisonment for their crimes. Kenneth Bianchi is still serving his prison sentence, while Angelo Buono died in prison of a heart attack in 2002.

When their names and photographs were published in the newspaper, Catherine Lorre realized that she had been lucky to escape the notorious Hillside Gang. As far as we know, she was the only survivor…

She stated that the reason she spared because the men were fans of her father. She even said that she didn’t feel threatened by the men and that she felt that the encounter was friendly.

So what happened to Catherine following her run in with the Hillside Gang?

In 1980, Catherine got married and had a happy life with her husband. Sadly, he passed away a few years after their marriage from a motorcycle accident.

Following this tragedy, Catherine’s diabetes – which she acquired as a child – became even worse. Her health began deteriorating rapidly and she was eventually hospitalized at Harbor General.

During this time, she had been suffering not only from diabetes but also from circulation problems and vision problems. She spent about a year at the hospital before dying of complications from diabetes, as well as sepsis and encephalomalacia.

She was 32 years old…

Her funeral held after a month being held in the morgue. Catherine funeral had a low turnout, consisting of her cousin, her father’s lawyer and son, and her nurse.

Her life clearly wasn’t the easiest and it seemed that she never got a break in her life. We can take some comfort that there were a few happy moments in her life, especially when she married. We can also hope that she’s at peace now…

But how did Catherine Lorre’s life become like this? How did her life become so tumultuous? One has to look at the tumultuous life that her father Peter Lorre lived.

Peter Lorre was born as Laszlo Lowenstein in 1904. He was born Austria-Hungary, now in modern-day Slovakia. Peter himself didn’t have the easiest childhood, losing his mother when he was only 4 years old.

Peter began his acting career at the age of 17 and moved to Berlin to act in stage plays. He began a major film star when he appeared as a child killer in Fritz Lang’s film M. Though this was a cruel and villainous role, his performance lauded and M considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.

Unfortunately, this character also held against Peter Lorre. When the Nazi’s came into power, the character of the child killer depicted by them as being typical of Jews. Josef Goebbels known to be a fan of Peter Lorre.

But as a Jew, Goebbels warned Peter that he had to leave Europe – else his fate would be the same of other Jews who remained.

Peter Lorre escaped to France and then eventually settled in England. It was here where began his English-language career. He appeared in The Man Who Knew Too Much directed by Alfred Hitchcock. This made him a star in the English-speaking world, even though he was barely fluent at the time.

He eventually settled in the United States and became a Hollywood star. He appeared in the Mr. Moto films, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Casino Royalethe first television adaptation of a James Bond story.

While his career was going well, the tragedies of his own life must have taken its toll. He had various health problems as a result of his weight gain. He even had a habit of taking drugs and drinking. In fact, he was part of the “Holmby Hills Rat Pack” – which was an informal drinking club that included many other major stars.

He married three times, with Catherine being his only child. Peter left us too young and while his incredible body of work will always entertain us, it’s important to know how hard his life was.

He was, in many ways, the perfect actor. Peter could set aside the tragedies of his own life in order to entertain us through his characters.

He died in 1964. His friend, actor Vincent Price, read the eulogy at his funeral.

One wonders what Peter Lorre’s life would have been like if it wasn’t riddled with tragedy. One also imagines that his daughter would also not have to deal with such tragedies had her family life been more stable.

If there’s one lesson that we can learn from the life of Peter Lorre is that even major stars have their troubles – just like the rest of us. Life isn’t easy for any of us, and we have to find a way to overcome our tragedies.

When we remember Peter Lorre, let’s also remember the struggles that he and many of his generation had to face…

When we remember Catherine Lorre, let’s also think about how important it is for a child to have a stable family life. Let’s remember that neglect in childhood will have serious consequences in adulthood.

What do you think about Catherine Lorre’s story?

How does her life story make you think about your own personal life? Does it make you more appreciative of how you live?

Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

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