He was the man you loved to hiss. This towering (6' 4"), highly imposing character star with cold, hollow, beady eyes and a huge, protruding snout would go on to become one of the silent screen's finest arch villains. Born Ernest Thayson Torrence-Thompson on June 26, 1878, in Edinburgh, Scotland, he was, unlikely enough, an exceptional pianist and operatic baritone. A graduate of the Stuttgart Conservatory, Edinburgh Academy before earning a scholarship at London's Royal Academy of Music, he toured with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in such productions as "The Emerald Isle" (1901) and "The Talk of the Town" (1905) before serious vocal problems set in. Both Ernest and his actor brother David Torrence came to America directly from Scotland prior to WWI. Focusing instead on a purely acting career, both brothers developed into seasoned players on the New York stage. Ernest made his Broadway bow with "Modest Suzanne" in 1912 and a standout role in "The Night Boat" in 1920 brought him to the attention of Hollywood filmmakers.