Two anecdotes of his early career:
While working as a bank clerk in Breslau, he complained of never having enough money. A friend suggested that he work as an usher in a local theater. Summoning all he knew as a sometime teen actor, he lined up and said the words, as smoothly as possible: "Delighted to see you, Madam. May I take your coat?" The manager, knowing talent when he saw it, replied, "Can you be here every weekday night but Monday, early on Sunday?" Nodding an emphatic "yes", he found himself in a bit part as an aged nobleman. "Soon," he explained, "I was making more money as an actor than as a clerk."

In the course of the interview in which this anecdote was elicited, he was offered a drink. Instead, he blushed, and asked for a coffee. When asked why, he explained

"Those who drink, should not take drugs.
Those who take drugs should never drink.
I have made my choice. What do you think?"

FWIW, he only sounds like "Peter Lorre" when speaking in English. Dunno why that is.