Francis Lederer

Francis Lederer

Infobox actor
name = Francis Lederer

imagesize = 175px
caption = Lederer in fy|1932
birthname = František Lederer
birthdate = 6 November, 1899
birthplace = Prague, Bohemia,
(now in the Czech Republic)
deathdate = 25 May, fy|2000 (age 100)
deathplace = Palm Springs, California, U.S.
restingplace = Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles
spouse = Ada Nejedly ("divorced")
(1937-1940 "divorced")
Marion Irvine
(1941-2000 "his death")
awards = Hollywood Walk of Fame

Francis Lederer (6 November, 1899 – 25 May, fy|2000) was an American film and stage actor.

Early life and career

Born František Lederer to a Jewish family near Prague (then part of Austria-Hungary), Lederer was raised bilingually, speaking both Czech and German, and, accordingly, also used the German form of his name, Franz Lederer. His father, Josef, was a leather merchant, and as a young man, Frantisek worked as a delivery boy for a department store in Prague.Christopherbkk [ Biography (IMDB)] ]

Lederer's fell in love with acting when he was young, and was trained at the Academy of Music and Academy of Dramatic Art in Prague.Erickson, Hal [ Biography (Allmovie)] ] After service in the First World War, he made his stage debut as an apprentice with the New German Theater, a walk-on in the play "Burning Heart". He toured Moravia and central Europe, making a name for himself as a matinee idol in theaters in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria and Germany. Notable among his performances was a turn as "Romeo" in Max Reinhardt's staging of "Romeo and Juliet".TCM [|52654&afiPersonalNameId=null Biography] ]

In the late 1920s, Lederer was lured into films by the German actress Henny Porten and her producer husband. Because of his good looks, it took some time for the critics to take him seriously, but his association with directors such as G. W. Pabst, for whom he did "Pandora's Box" with Louise Brooks [imdb title|0018737|Die Büchse der Pandora] and "Atlantic" [imdb title|0019657|Atlantik] (both 1929), helped him overcome that problem. He was also notable in "The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrovna" in the same year. Lederer, who was billed as "Franz" at this time, easily made the transition from silent films to talkies, and was on his way to becoming one of Europe's top male film stars.


In 1931, Lederer was in London to perform on stage in "Volpone" and the next year in "Autumn Crocus", which he then performed on Broadwayibdb name|49275] – using the name "Francis" – where it played for 210 performances in 1932 and 1933. [ibdb title|11679|Autumn Crocus] He also performed the play in Los Angeles. His performances attracted attention and film offers from Hollywood. With the deteriorating political situation in Europe, Lederer decided to stay in the United States.

In Lederer's first American movies were fairly light fare in which he played the leading man, in films such as "Man of Two Worlds" (fy|1934), "Romance in Manhattan" (fy|1934), opposite Ginger Rogers, "The Gay Deception" (fy|1935), opposite Frances Dee, and "One Rainy Afternoon" (fy|1936). It was Irving Thalberg's plan to make Lederer "the biggest star in Hollywood" but the death of Thalberg ended that, and Lederer never really caught on as a star in the American mode, perhaps because his Continental air didn't go over well in an increasingly xenophobic culture.

Although he continued to occasionally play leads – notably when he was a playboy in Billy Wilder's "Midnight" with Claudette Colbert and John Barrymore in fy|1939 – in the late 1930s Lederer began to expand his film acting repertoire with offbeat character parts, even playing villains. Edward G. Robinson praised Lederer's performance as a German American Bundist opposite him in "Confessions of a Nazi Spy" in fy|1939, and he earned plaudits for his portrayal of a Fascist in "The Man I Married" (fy|1940) opposite Joan Bennett. He also played a vampire for "The Return of Dracula" in fy|1958.

Throughout his career, Lederer, who studied with Elia Kazan at the Actors Studio in New York, continued to take stage acting seriously, and he performed often both in New York and elsewhere. He appeared in productions of "Golden Boy" (1937), "Seventh Heaven" (1939), "No Time for Comedy" (1939), in which he replaced Laurence Olivier, "The Play's the Thing" (1942), "A Doll's House" (1944), "Arms and the Man" (1950), "The Sleeping Prince" (1956) and "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1958).

Although he took a break from making films in fy|1941, in order to concentrate on his stage work, he returned to the silver screen in fy|1944, appearing in "A Voice in the Wind" and "The Bridge of San Luis Rey", and in films such as Jean Renoir's "The Diary of a Chambermaid" (fy|1946), " Million Dollar Weekend" (fy|1948). He took another break from Hollywood in fy|1950, after making "Surrender", and returned once more in fy|1956 with "Lisbon" and the light comedy "The Ambassador's Daughter". His final film appearance was in "Terror Is a Man" in fy|1959.

He would continue to make television appearances for the next ten years in such shows as "The Untouchables", "Ben Casey", "" and "That Girl". His final TV appearance occurred in a 1971 episode of "Night Gallery".

Later life and death

In his later life, Lederer, who had become very wealthy by investing in real estate, especially in the Canoga Park, California area, where he lived, was active in civic affairs, philanthropy and politics. He served as Recreation and Parks Commissioner for Los Angeles, received awards for his efforts to beautify the city and was honorary mayor of Canoga Park for a time. He became involved with peace movements, taught acting, and was one of the founders of the American National Academy of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, and the International Academy of Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.. In 2000, he was honored by the Austrian government with the Cross of Honor for Science and Arts, First Class.

Although Lederer had been married briefly twice before – the second time to the Mexican American actress María Marguerita Guadalupe Teresa Estela Bolado, who went by the stage name Margo – his third marriage to Marion Irvine, who served as Los Angeles' Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, lasted 59 years. Lederer worked up until the week before he died, at the age of 100, in Palm Springs, California, one of the last surviving World War I veterans of the Austro-Hungarian army.

elected filmography

*"Zuflucht" (fy|1928)
*"Pandora's Box" (fy|1929)
*"Atlantic" (1929)
*"The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrovna" (1929)
*"Maman Colibri" (1929)
*"Man of Two Worlds" (fy|1934)

;United States
*"Romance in Manhattan" (fy|1935)
*"Gay Deception" (1935)
*"One Rainy Afternoon" (fy|1936)
*"My American Wife" (1936)
*"Midnight" (fy|1939)
*"Confessions of a Nazi Spy" (1939)
*"The Man I Married" ("I Married a Nazi") (fy|1940)
*"Puddin' Head" (fy|1941)
*"A Voice in the Wind" (fy|1944)
*"The Bridge of San Luis Rey" (1944)
*"The Diary of a Chambermaid" (fy|1946)
*"Million Dollar Weekend" (fy|1948)
*"Surrender" fy|1950
*"Captain Carey, U.S.A." (1950)
*"Lisbon" fy|1956
*"The Ambassador's Daughter" (1956)
*"The Return of Dracula" (fy|1958)
*"Terror Is a Man" (fy|1959)

ee also

* Veterans of the First World War who died in 2000


External links

* [ Francis Lederer at Classic Images]
* [ Virtual History photo gallery]

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