Frantisek Lederer was born on November 6th, 1899, in Czechoslovakia. His father was a leather merchant, and young Frantisek began his working life as a department store delivery boy in Prague. He fell in love with acting from a young age, and was soon on stage touring Moravia and then all over Central Europe with people like Peter Lorre.
Lederer was easily lured into film by German actress Henny Porten and her producer husband. And it wasn't long before he was starring in the legendary German silent movie Pandora's Box (1929).
Whilst Lederer, who was using the German name of Franz, shifted from silents to talkies easily and was fast becoming one of Germany's top stars, he hadn't yet learnt to speak any English.
By 1934, Lederer, (now using Francis), had begun working in America. And he was getting top billing too. Irving Thalberg had planned to make Lederer "the biggest star in Hollywood" but Thalberg's untimely death put a stop to that. But Lederer continued successfully in film and TV for many years.
After two brief marriages his third lasted 59 years. He invested in property well and made a fortune in the Canoga Park, California area. He founded the National Academy of Performing Arts on which his close friend Joan Crawford was on the Advisory Board. He loved to teach.
Lederer was still teaching the week before he died in 2000, aged 100 years.
|Marion Irvine||(1941 - 25 May 2000) (his death)|
|Margo||(1937 - 1940) (divorced)|
|Ada Nedjedly-Hart||(? - 1928) (divorced)|
Founded the American National Academy of Performing Arts and continued to give acting seminars up until the time of his death at age 100. His more famous students include Helen Hunt, Michael Nader and Paul Gleason.
He served as an Honorary Mayor of Canoga Park, California for 25 years. He also was a civic leader, helping to develop the arts, education, museums and art galleries in his community.
Began teaching acting (without pay) in 1954.
Served on the board of ANTA (American National Theatre and Academy) and was director of its Academy of Performing Arts.
Did not speak English when he first entered films in 1928, until the advent of sound forced him to do so.
My theory about acting was created by the fact that I had the good fortune immediately to play important parts on the stage and on the screen with these big stars, and I acquired a a theory that I still pursue, and that is concentration on what the whole situation, what the whole scene is about.
You read the script, and you find out what the author had in mind. That's basically the essence of it. I don't believe in actors and actresses having their own individual conception. In my opinion, the actor is a tool of the writer, and his sole ambitions should be to fulfill his conception of the work.
(1999) Teaching acting one day a week.
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