Sunday, February 21, 2010

Remembering Peter Lee Lawrence

Born Karl Hyrenbach on February 21, 1944 in Lindau, Bavaria, Germany, we know him as Peter Lee Lawrence. He had been living with his mother in Nice, France and appearing in photo novels as Pierre Clément. His first role was in the flashback scene in Sergio Leone's “For a Few Dollars More” as Colonel Mortimer's sister's fiancé . He would go on to appear in over 15 Eurowesterns, among them “Fury of Johnny Kid”, “Killer Caliber .32”, “Days of Violence” and For a Few Bullets More” all 1967. “Killer Adios” (1968), “Garringo” (1969), “Another Dollar for the MacGregors” (1970). He was sometimes credited as Arthur Grant and was one of the stars of the Spaghetti Western era but also acted in other films such as his leading performance in “Black Beauty” (1971). His last film appearance was in 1974's “ Los Caballeros del Botón de Ancla”. He was married to actress Cristina Galbo from 1969-1974. There has been controversy about Lawrence's death at the age of 30 on April 20, 1974 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. The often told story was he died by suicide, but recently this story has been contradicted by people who knew him including actress Erika Blanc and his wife Cristina Galbo, who have said he died of a brain tumor in a hospital surrounded by family. Today we celebrate what would have been Peter Lee Lawrence's 66th birthday. I mistakenly had his birth year as 2010 so I will leave this post to correct the mis-information I had and you can read Cristina Galbo's reply.

4 comments:

  1. Great actor. Thanks Tom for the tribute.

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  2. My name is Cristina Galbó: Cristina Hyrenbach

    The death of PETER LEE LAWRENCE, born KARL HYRENBACH, is not a mystery. It happened in private and with family, and it certainly was not suicide.

    We always wanted to protect our lives from the public attention associated with our work. If I have not spoken before now it was because I always thought that in time, everything would fall into place. But now I am breaking my silence to put an end to the rumors and misinformation that are hurting us, the people who loved him and who always will.

    Karl Hyrenbach and Thieme was born on the 21st of February 1944 in Lindau-Bodensee, Germany. An adopted son of France, he spent part of his childhood and youth in Nice. He had three sisters and two brothers.

    In 1964, while still a student, he began his career in cinema. We met in 1966, while we were acting together in a film. Karl had a child at that time, born from a previous relationship. In 1968 we met up again off the set. We got married on the 30th of July 1969 and our son David was born on the 4th of May 1970.

    In 1972 he began suffering from headaches. Once filming finished on “Boton de Ancla”, he was admitted to the Foundation Jimenez Diaz Hospital in Madrid, where he was operated on by Dr. Sixto Obrador. The surgery was a success, but the report confirmed our worst fears. It was glioblastoma.

    In our attempt to use all the resources available to us, we moved to Zurich, where, under the auspices of Professor Wolfgang Horst, Karl began both chemo and radium treatment. Realizing how serious his illness was, we decided to do things we had always wanted to do but never got around to. We had the privilege of living in Tahiti (French Polynesia) for several months, of having lots of time to spend with family and friends, and of enjoying the peace at our home in Rome, and going back to Zurich for check-ups.

    On the 12th of February 1974 Karl had a routine check-up with Professor Horst. The results were good, which kept our hopes up. On the 25th of March 1974, Karl was admitted to the Villa Stuart Clinic in Rome with severe stomach pains. He died on a Saturday, April 20th 1974, at ten past three in the morning. He was thirty years of age.

    Among the defining traits of his personality, I would have to highlight his dedication to the people he loved, and his anti-conformist attitude, which he maintained against anything he considered unjust. He was very sociable and a polyglot to boot, who used short-wave radio to connect with people’s struggles around the world. But his real passion was scuba diving and everything related to the sea. With his sophisticated equipment and his underwater cameras, he used to spend hours and hours enjoying exploring the seabed. I think David’s dedication to the sea is genetic.

    I hope I have dissipated any doubts surrounding his death, because all the facts I have mentioned can be easily proven. I will merely add that those of us who spent the sixteen months of his illness with Karl can attest to his dignity, courage and desire to live and fight with spirit he always showed. I will never forget he used to say “Don’t you worry Pichuqui, I will get over this because I have so many reasons to do so”.

    Sincerely,

    Cristina Galbó

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for putting the facts in order Cristina. I have sent your information to several friends who are authors and researchers and hopefully the truth will be presented and errors corrected. I will try and change Wikipedia as I have access to it. I've tried for years to track you down hoping to find the truth. A great actress in your own right I thank you for your wonderful post.

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  3. It would be great to get more information on Lawrence/Hyrenbach, and I don't mean a bunch of personal stuff. He had a very interesting and prolific career in films and even fotoromanzi magazines. I think it's very interesting and fortunate that he was able to get the lead in so many films before his untimely passing.

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