Francis Lederer was an American film and stage actor.
Lederer fell in love with acting when he was young, and was trained at the Academy of Music and Academy of Dramatic Art in Prague. 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.
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 and Atlantic , 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 by Dodie Smith, which he then performed on Broadway ? using the name “Francis” ? where it played for 210 performances in 1932 and 1933. 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. He became a U.S. citizen in 1939.