Francis Lederer

Active - 1928 - 1991  |   Born - Nov 6, 1899   |   Died - May 25, 2000   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Spy Film, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Born in Prague, Francis Lederer was trained at that Czechoslovakian city's Academy of Music and Academy of Dramatic Art. Frequently labelled a "gorgeous man" by the critical press of the time, it took a while for matinee idol Lederer to be taken seriously as an actor. Billed as Franz Lederer in most of his European films, the actor was fortunate enough to be associated with several powerhouse directors, among them G.W. Pabst (Pandora's Box, Atlantic). While appearing on Broadway in 1932, Lederer was "discovered" for Hollywood, where he accepted a string of leading-man assignments in such films as Man of Two Worlds (1934), Romance in Manhattan (1934) and One Rainy Afternoon (1936). His cinematic stock in trade at the time was the outgoing, slightly naïve foreigner at the mercy of aggressive, acrimonious Americans or Britishers. One of his best screen characterizations was the disgruntled German-American bundist in Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), which won him the personal praise of his co-star Edward G. Robinson, who wasn't accustomed to handing out empty compliments. As Lederer grew older, he added villains, continental cads and jaundiced cynics to his repertoire; he even played a world-weary vampire in 1958's The Return of Dracula. An extremely wealthy man thanks to his real-estate holdings, Francis Lederer left films altogether in 1959, busying himself with civic, political and philanthropic enterprises.

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