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.