Friday, February 5, 2016

FRANCIS LEDERER the Forgotten "DRACULA": A Stage and Film Actor's Life

Mention "Dracula" and motion pictures together in the same sentence and two names immediately come to mind: Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. Depending upon your love of the old 1940's Universal Horror films a person might add either John Carradine's "Baron Latos", or Lon Chaney, Jr.'s "Count Alucard". Which everyone knows is "Dracula" spelled backwards. Two other names that may be added to the list are Gary Oldman and Frank Langella, if your are familiar with Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 "Bram Stoker's Dracula", or John Badham's 1979 "Dracula".

This article is not about "Dracula", but an actor, Francis Lederer. Who played the character in a 1958 very low budget film that to most of my readers today is unknown, but to those who are true fans of both Bram Stoker's creation and the motion pictures made starting with the German 1922 "Noseferatu" consider an understated classic.

Today Frantisek Lederer place of birth is in the Czech Republic, but at the time he was born on November 6, 1899 it was Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. His father was a leather merchant and Frantisek as a small boy made deliveries for a department store while going to school and at some point the acting bug, as they say, caught hold of the young man.

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What I found interesting is that all the references for the dramatic arts training of Frantisek Lederer specifically reference a scholarship to  the "Academy of Music" and its associated "Academy of Dramatic Arts" in Prague.

Initially my problem here is that if you either reference those schools as individuals, or together I am taken to only one school the "Academy of Performing Arts". The problem is that the academy was not founded until 1946. Reading the Academy's description on many English and Foreign language webpages not one has any information that mentions if there was another form for it prior to the end of World War 2, but all confirm it is the only such secondary school in Prague.

It took some research to discover that the "State" ran Conservatories for both music and dramatic arts for 13 to 18 year old students and these were plentiful throughout the then Austria- Hungary Empire. Only one of these existed in Prague, as the references for the "Academy of Performing Arts" also states, and was founded in 1808 for Music.There was a drama department, but records indicate it was 1919 before this was established. I have to wonder if the school might have had a small dramatic arts department earlier and it was not officially recognized until 1919,or more possibly records became confused in 1918, This was the year the Austria-Hungary Empire collapsed and part of it was consolidated in the creation of Czechoslovakia with Prague as its capital.

All those references I mentioned stated that Francis Lederer was enrolled at an  early age, probably 13 and some of the biographical sources say Lederer was still there by age 18 for graduation.

As I have no information to doubt the statement that Frantisek Lederer at 18 years of age was finishing school which would have been 1917. Those same sources add that Lederer served during World War 1 in the Austrian-Hungarian Imperial Army, if he was still in school at, or just after his 18th birthday November 6, 1917. Then his total time in uniform could not have been more than approximately one year as World War 1 ended on November 11, 1918. I could not locate his name, but Frantisek had an order brother that was killed during the war and the young man became a lifelong pacifist as a result.

By the early 1920's Frantisek Lederer was appearing with "The New German Theater" touring and with his good looks became a "matinee idol". In the German language he played roles in Shakespeare, his first apparently was Romeo, to the biting satire of Noel Coward.

In 1928 as "Franz" Lederer he made his first motion picture for the German film company UFA titled "Zuflucht (Refuge)". The film was distributed in the United States as "Escape". I could find no information as to what the film was about. I also found information that he had been married to an opera singer named Ada Nejedly and that they divorced also in 1928. I couldn't find out any more information other than the divorce year.

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Two films later and Franz Lederer had third billing in a controversial German film that is now considered one of the classics of the Weimar Republic. Along with the psychological horror story "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and "The Blue Angel" that made Marlene Dietrich an International Star.

The controversial motion picture was "Die Buchese der Pandora (Pandora's Box)" and starred American actress Louise Brooks as a very amoral women even for 1920's Germany. The audience watches her rise using men as pawns and fall, because of the ending this motion picture is mentioned in my article on "Jack the Ripper" in motion pictures.

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This interesting quote from Francis Lederer about Louise Brooks was spoken many years after
"Pandora's Box" and appeared in the New York Times after his death. It reflects one of the advantages of silent motion pictures:
"I absolutely adored her, she was a mysterious person, perfectly cast for that part,'' Mr. Lederer once said of Miss Brooks, who became a Jazz Age icon of sexuality. ''We couldn't talk. She didn't speak a word of German. I didn't speak a word of English. We just looked at each other.

By 1931 "Franz" Lederer had become a major European actor, both in films and the legitimate stage. At this time the English speaking "Francis" Lederer went to London to appear on stage in a play by writer/actress Dodie Smith "Autumn Crocus", Wikipedia describes the play:
It was Smith's first play written under the pseudonym of C.L. Anthony. It follows a single schoolteacher who goes on holiday to the Tyrol and falls in love with the married owner of the hotel in which she is staying.
The play went across the Atlantic to New York City and Francis Lederer stared on Broadway for 210 performances, if you don't recognize Dody Smith's name, You probably know one of her novels "One Hundred and One Dalmatians".

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"Autumn Crocus" moved to Los Angeles and those Hollywood talent scouts and studio heads who hadn't seen the actor on Broadway now had their chance. With the situation deteriorating in Europe as the Nazi's rose to power in Germany. Like fellow actor Peter Lorre and film director Fritz Lang who would leave Germany shortly for the United States. Francis Lederer saw the writing on the wall and accepted an offer to appear in films in this country and remain here.

For a detailed biography of Fritz Lang please see my article at:

One of the first things Francis Lederer did in 1933 upon moving to Los Angles was to purchase some land in the North West corner of the San Fernando Valley. This Spanish Land Grant area obtained during the Mexican War of 1846-1847 became known as Owensmouth, a street still there, in 1912 and joined Los Angeles five years later in 1917. Two years before the actor started to build his home in 1931 the name was changed to Canoga Park and in 1987 homes owners separated from their sister city to form West Hills a more exclusive area. The home he would build has been seen in many movies made over the years with a Spanish California theme.

When his area was still called Canoga Park Francis Lederer served as the honorary Mayor for 20 years.

Here is an interesting article for his property that was listed for sale in May 2013 from the website: Curbed.
We refer to a lot of houses as "time capsules," but this estate in West Hills seems to involve actual time travel. The Mission-style Lederer Residence was designed by John R. Litke around a central courtyard and built in 1933 for actor Francis Lederer. Inside, the house is more like 1733: whitewashed brick walls, Portuguese tile floors (deliberately cracked for authenticity), stained glass windows, and an antique store's worth of hand-carved wood furniture. Agent Sarah Cortell tells us that the house has been vacant for more than a decade, but when the owners decided to sell, they got all the original art and furniture out of storage and staged the house to match its 1965 Architectural Digest spread, right down to the table settings. The two-bedroom house, built with stone quarried on the property, is a sprawling 4,800 square feet, and there's also two-bedroom detached guest house. It all sits on more than 6.5 acres, and this is its first time on the market. The Lederer Residence was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1978 (the Lederer's stables on a separate property across the street were land marked in 1974). It can be yours for $1.5999 million, and there is the option to buy all the furniture. Perfect for the antique-loving historical re-enactor in your life.
The house did sell in December 2013.

Here are four photos of the property:

Lederer Residence and Immediate Environs

Lederer Residence and Immediate Environs

Lederer Residence and Immediate Environs

Francis Lederer's first film roles were for RKO Pictures that in typical Hollywood style billed him as the:
newest and most popular New York matinee idol.

The motion pictures was titled "A Man of Two Worlds" and Lederer played an Eskimo who is brought to the modern world and civilized.

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The following short piece comes from the digital newspaper website for Illinois dated February 6, 1934 about several actors and tells of a major goal of Francis Lederer based upon his brother's death in World War 1.

World Peace as an Actor s Hobby . . 
Francis Lederer is a young Czechoslovakian actor who recently made his American screen debut as Aigo in Man of Two Worlds has His avocation is the promotion of international peace and good-will . So interested is the actor in this movement that he has organized the World Peace federation with offices in Los Angeles . The organization is carried on by persons who are interested in furthering peace and who volunteer part of their time to that end .
Eventually Mr . Lederer hopes to get 2.000,000 people in the United States interested enough in peace to express their attitude to President Roosevelt . The actor devotes all the time between engagements at a Los Angeles theater where he is playing the lead to his foundation  More power to Francis Lederer and his very useful avocation .

The British Guardian in their Obituary of the actor quoted his co-star Ginger Rodgers from his third American movie the 1935 "Romance in Manhattan", Rodgers had some very insightful comments on how this European leading man was now being looked upon by "Tinsel Town".

Unfortunately, being a foreign actor, Lederer never really fulfilled his potential in America. "The studios didn't know how to handle him or how to buy stories for him," wrote Ginger Rogers, his co-star in Romance In Manhattan (1934). "Hollywood was a very parochial place, and once classified, actors could not easily break out of the mold." Lederer believed his inherent shyness - he hated to do publicity for his films - worked against his becoming as big a romantic star as, say, Charles Boyer.

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In his film with Ginger Rogers Lederer played a naive Czech immigrant who was told for $58 dollars a ship will get him to America. He only has that amount of American money, but upon arrival in New York is now told he needs $200 dollars. The young immigrant escapes the ship and meets up with Ginger Rodger's who educates him on the depression and the situation in the United States. While she gives him blankets so he can sleep on the roof of the building she lives in. Lederer finally gets a job as a taxi driver and a romance develops with its up and down. The picture was described as a romantic comedy/drama.

The actual date of the release of this movie was not 1934 as "The Guardian" states, but January 11, 1935 and it should be noted that it was released in November of 1935 in Prague.

Four more features and a "Hollywood Current Stars" short subject followed "Romance in Manhattan" between 1935 and 1937. At this time Francis Lederer was also appearing on the legitimate stage in various productions. In 1937 he could be seen in the boxing play "Golden Boy", in 1939 he replaced Lawrence Olivier in "No Time for Comedy", but wasn't considered for the movie role that went to James Stewart the following year.

During 1937 Francis Lederer married the popular actress Margo the daughter of band leader Xavier Cugat and co-star of Frank Capra's 1937 classic "Lost Horizon". The two would remain married until their divorce three years later in 1940.

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On May 6, 1939 Francis Lederer played the title character in a very strong early anti-Nazi motion picture "Confessions of a Nazi Spy". The Warner Brothers film starred Edward G. Robinson, Lederer, George Sanders, Paul Lukas, and in an non-screen credited role Ward Bond as an American Legionnaire. Bond's small role was representative of a true incident that occurred prior to this motion picture being made.

Francis Lederer becomes a spy for the Nazi's and is broken down by FBI agent Robinson. This movie foreshadowed with some accuracy the capture of a Nazi spy ring headed by Frederick "Fritz" Joubert Duquesne two years later. The motion picture was re-released in 1940 with additional scenes added of actual events that had occurred. Late some portions of the film would also be used in the last of the "Why We Fight" film series to build up America's war time morale.

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A major event in Francis Lederer's life also occurred in 1939 when he took the oath of citizenship to the United States.

About this time Francis Lederer started playing off beat roles in an attempt to further get out of his type casting as a "playboy" that Hollywood was tagging him and to expand his own acting abilities. However, his next picture was another form of type casting by the studios. On August 9, 1940 20th Century Fox released a film starring Lederer with Joan Bennett "The Man I Married" with an alternate more specific title of "I Married A Nazi".

A married couple with a seven year old son take a visit to the husband Eric's homeland of Germany to visit his father he hasn't seen in 10 years. Things start to happen as Eric starts attending Nazi meetings after meeting a women, Freida, he knew from school in Germany, Additionally there is a subplot about a famous German philosopher being placed in a concentration camp. The film comes to a climax when Eric decides to remain in Germany, marry Frieda, but keep his "German" son with him. His wife wants to take their son back to America. Help comes from Eric's father who tells his son that he will reveal to the authorities that Carol, Eric's wife, is Jewish. At this news Frieda leaves Eric knowing that under Jewish law that if the mother is Jewish so is the son. The films ends with Eric in Germany and Carol and his son on their way to the United States.

These two motion pictures are examples of the many being made in the United States prior to December 7, 1941 that were attacking Nazi Germany's rise to power and their attacks on other countries starting with Poland.

In 1941 Francis Lederer once more remarried and the lady was Marion Elenanor Irvine. Here is a quote from her obituary in "The Los Angeles Daily News" that give my reader a little insight into her life with the actor.
Together they served as ambassadors for UNICEF, represented the U.S. Department of State in Czechoslovakia and founded the Canoga Park , California-Taxco, Mexico City Co-City Program. 
The two would stay married through the death of Francis Lederer and Marion Lederer would pass away at the age of 91 on on April 7, 2011.

 In 1941 Lederer took a three year break from motion picture work and concentrated on legitimate stage productions. The actor returned to films in 1944 appearing in "The Bridge of San Luis Rey".

The motion was loosely based upon the life of a Peruvian entertainer known as "La Perichole" (1748-1819). In 1774 a one hundred year old bridge collapses and five people die. A monk goes to Lima, Peru to learn why "God" took them. Actress Lynn Bari played the part somewhat based upon "La Perichole" called Micaela Villegas. Francis Lederer played twin brothers Manuel and Esteban.

Named the 8th Best English Language film of 1946 Lederer played the sadistic valet of a French household in "The Diary of a Chambermaid" starring Paulette Goddard and featuring an excellent cast with Reginald Owen, Judith Anderson, Hurd Hatfield and Burgess Meredith. The motion picture was directed by the legendary French director Jean Renoir.

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The valet Joseph has a past time of piercing the throats of geese with a needle and a desire for the silverware of  Captain Lantaire whom he works for. Meanwhile the new chambermaid in this 1885 French household Celestine is being used by Madame Lantaire as a means of keeping her sickly son Georges home instead of going to Paris. Both Georges and Celestine realize what his mother is doing and upset over this the chambermaid quits. She wants a ride to town with Joseph, but he asks her to stay and reveals his plans to steal the silverware on Bastille Day while everyone is away celebrating. Madame Lantaire overhears this conversation and spoils his plan and Joseph then sets his sights on the Captain's money.

Everyone has left to celebrate Bastille Day and Joseph starts searching the house for the hidden money. Captain Lantaire returns by himself and there is a fight ending with the Captain's death. Later Joseph informs Madame Lantaire and Georges that he intends to leave the household and marry Celestine. Madame Lantaire is overjoyed at this as she now knows her son is in love with Celestine. Madame Lantaire gives Joseph the silverware and the two leave. However, Georges follows and catches up. There is a fight and Joseph is killed while Celestine and Georges leave his mother to be together.

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Founded October 5, 1947 by Elia Kazan and located in the "Hell's Kitchen" neighborhood of New York City in a converted church was "The Actor's Studio".

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From its founding on and off Francis Lederer attended classes and participated in productions under Kazan. Although he has already been on the stage and screen for 27 years before the Studio's was founded. Lederer kept training himself and refining his craft.

The rest of the 1940's were divided between more feature films and stage work. In the early 1950's like many other dramatic actors Francis Lederer started working in television. His first appearance was in the second episode during the third season of "The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse". The live television production was broadcasted September 17, 1950 entitled "The Long Run". I could not locate what the story was about, but it appeared to be a two person story.

Between 1951 and 1957 Francis Lederer appeared in seven television programs and four motion pictures. One of those four films was "Lisbon" released August 17, 1956 shot in Portugal by director/producer/star Ray Milland. The cast besides Lederer included Maureen O'Hara, Claude Rains and Yvonne Furneaux.

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The film was about a women who apparently wants her husband rescued from behind the Iron Curtain, but may have ulterior motives concerning his will. It would take seven long years to declare him dead. Playing the women in question was Maureen O'Hara. Who in her autobiography "Tis Herself" published in 2004 wrote this interesting quote about the movie:
For the first time in my career I got to play the villain, and Bette Davis was right bitches are fun to play
In the movie Francis Lederer played one of the villains of the piece a very jealous servant named Serafim who is in love with Furneaux's Maria. Although she does not love, or like him. In the end he is killed by Milland.

In 1957 Francis Lederer was one of the founders of "The American National Academy of Performing Arts" located in Studio City. He would also become an instructor.

I have now come to the "Dracula" of this articles title. I need to set the stage as this motion picture was probably the last of the truly old style "Dracula" movies, It was very reminiscent of those Universal Pictures I mentioned in the opening paragraph, but forgotten because of an event that would happen once month after its release.

Between 1957 and 1959 when Lloyd was between 10 and 13 years old. There was a craze in the low budget film industry to draw teens and pre-teens into movie theaters with designed Horror and Science Fiction pictures.

These Horror and Science Fiction motion pictures were basically in two categories. The first was the utilization of "Teenage" a new word just created in the early 1950's to  describe this demographic, In this category you had film titles such as: "I Was A Teenage Werewolf", "Teenagers from Outer Space" and "Teenage Cave Man". The second category were films that had the "Teenagers", usually played by twenty something actors, know more about what was happening then their parents and other adults. Who never believed "the kids" until the film's climax. Titles in this category were: "The Blob", "Invasion of the Saucer Men" and "The Spider" aka: "The Earth vs the Spider".

"The Return of Dracula" fell within that second category.

I return to the "Guardian" article on Francis Lederer for a quote on how director Paul Landres wanted him to portray Dracula:
However, he was still able to be both a charming and sinister vampire in The Return Of Dracula (1958). "They wanted me to wear fangs," he explained, "but I refused, saying it was old hat and I would have looked foolish." Neither did he use a cape, but merely wore his overcoat over his shoulders.

This insistence by the actor not only set his role apart from the traditional, but also proved extremely effective in the plot of the story. Set in a small California town the screenplays tells the audience about Cora Mayberry who is excited that her Cousin from the old country Bellac Cordai has accepted an invitation to come to America and live with her family. What is unknown to anyone, but the viewer is that "Uncle Bellac", as Rachel Mayberry will call him, is in reality Count Dracula who killed the Cousin on a train while still in Europe.

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What Dracula does not know is that he is being pursued not by Van Helsing, but an Interpol Detective.

When "Uncle Bellac" arrives from the "Old Country" he is presented as a charming man with fine European manners. The way Francis Lederer portrays this Dracula it is no wonder why anyone wouldn't want him as a house guest and be at ease in his presence. There is no visible signs of the evil that lays beneath the outer persona.

Teenager Rachel was played by 29 year old Norma Eberhardt. Eberhardt who had dated both James Dean and Jerry Lewis. She was then married to French actor and actual participant in World War 2's French Resistance Claude Dauphin since 1955. Rachel's boyfriend Tim Hansen was played by 30 year old Ray Stricklyn. Science Fiction fans may remember him as playing Jill St. John's younger brother in the 1960 Irwin Allen version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World".At the time St. John was 20 years of age and Stricklyn 32 years old.

Rachel has befriended blind Jennie Blake played by Virginia Vincent. Vincent had third billing the same year as this film in the blockbuster Susan Hayward motion picture about Barbara Graham "I Want to Live". Horror film buffs will also find Virginia Vincent as Ethel Carter in Wes Craven's 1977 original "The Hills Have Eyes"'.

Jennie becomes the victim  of Dracula and eventually dies. Here is a still from the sequence were Dracula raises her from the coffin. Even in these shadows note the cape like feeling to the overcoat Lederer is wearing.

Later in the film it is up to the Interpol Agent and the local minister to release Jennie Blake from Dracula's control.

The plot has "Uncle Bellac" as a painter and near the climax of the film on the night of a major town party. Rachel goes to his bedroom to ask if he has changed his mind and is going. "Uncle Bellac" is not there, but she notices a stack of his painting and innocently goes through them only to discover one of her in a coffin. It is these somewhat subtitle scenes that along with Lederer's underplayed sinister charm that can scare the hell out of an 11 year old when I saw the film. In my view that same understated performance still works today.

This still below is from the scene immediately following the discovery by Rachel of the painting. She turns and is startled to see "Uncle Bellac" standing behind her, but note he is not reflected in the mirror.

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Here are a few more scenes from "The Return of Dracula" which at present is found on YouTube.

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The final confrontation between Dracula, Rachel and Tim comes in the old mine were his coffin is after he has taken the girl there,

"The Return of Dracula" had been released in April 1958, but one month later in May a different "Dracula" hit the movie screens in the United States. This British film would be shown in the U.K. as "Dracula", but in the United States it was called "Horror of Dracula".

Francis Lederer's movie just disappeared into obscurity and a major change in how the character of Count Dracula would be portrayed in motion pictures took place. Christopher Lee was a blood thirsty Technicolor vampire with a strong sexuality that no previous film had created. The film also played upon the sexual seductions of the female vampire toward Johnathan Harker.

As the above poster indicated the film received an "X-Certificate" in the U,K, where it was made and no one under 18 was permitted to see it. While here in the United States the same pre-teens, such as 11 year Lloyd, and teenagers that had just watched "The Return of Dracula" might have gone to the same movie house to watch "Horror of Dracula".

On television the Francis Lederer film's title was changed to "The Curse of Dracula" for no apparent reason and in the U.K. it had a stranger title "The Fantastic Disappearing Man". Note on the U.K. poster below that under that title "The Return of Dracula" also received an "X-Certificate".

This is a personal memory. I was working around 1980 as a clerk at the Universal City Post Office before I became the station manager there. One day a lady came in with some mail that needed postage. I picked up the first envelope and the return address was for Francis Lederer. She almost did a double take when I casually remarked he was a good Dracula. This led to a conversation and my mentioning I had seen "The Return of Dracula" when it came out. The next day the lady was back with an autographed photo for me. Sadly, like many a treasure from back then it got lost in a move.

When looking at any biography of Francis Lederer on line, The 1959 motion picture "Terror Is A Man" seems to be stated with such a finality as his "final film" that his television work from 1960 through 1971 seems overlooked almost completely. Except for one appearance on Rod Sterling's "Night Gallery" on October 27, 1971 in the painting "The Devil is Not Mocked". So I will skip ahead in time 12 years, because I feel it fits at this point.

This is an excellent look at the segment written by David Juhl on December 30, 2013 and posted upon the website <>

An older gentleman (Francis Lederer) tells his grandson a story from his past to illustrate to him why he should feel pride in his national and ethnic heritage.
As the story moves to flashback, two Nazi soldiers share an easy laugh as they relax in a recently conquered area of the Balkans, one shooting at the unseen howls of wolves. They are there along with a group of soldiers led by General von Grunn (Helmut Dantine), who has a low opinion of the Balkan residents he has been defeating, saying “they have shown their true colors” and mocks Serbs, Croat and Slavs as “stupid peasants.”
The General and his men arrive at a castle, which they believe to be housing the leadership of an underground partisan movement, intending to take it. To their surprise, they are greeted by a gentleman (the same gentleman who opened our story, but 25 years younger), wearing a cape, and saying with a smile and an outstretched gloved hand, “Gentlemen, welcome.”
“We’ve come to burn you out, don’t welcome me,” replies the General gruffly. He accused the master of the castle of being the leader of the resistance, which the gentleman politely denies.
Inside the castle, a sumptuous banquet has been laid out and awaits to be served to the General and his men. Servants see to his men’s needs. The General is highly suspicious of this but eventually agrees to sit down to the wonderful meal from his astonishingly gracious host.
As midnight approaches, we hear the sound of wolves’ howls outside. Then, at the stroke of midnight, there is a commotion in the courtyard outside. The sounds of wolves are stronger and there are gunshots and screams from the men outside.
The General’s lieutenant, Kranz (Hank Brandt), falls into the dining room, screaming and a snarling unseen thing pulls him back into the hallway, his fingernails leaving grooves in the floorboards as he is helplessly taken to a savage demise.
Now in a panic, the General takes his own weapon and fires into the courtyard at the servants, who are now wolves, devouring his men. “The bullets are useless, General,” explains the gentlemanly host, “If they were silver, of course, it would be a different story.”
When the General next looks at his host, he is shocked to see a transformation in his face: paler, red eyes, and most telling, fangs.
As he clutches the General’s throat, he admits, “if it’s any consolation, General, this is the headquarters of the resistance and I am its proud commander—Count Dracula.”
We then return to the present as the old gentleman concludes his story to his grandson by saying “and that is how your grandfather served his country in the great war.”
Some fine acting here, particularly from Francis Lederer who excels at projecting an air of old-world gentle manliness and hospitality, which serves him well as he attempts to put his uninvited guests at ease until midnight arrives and the transformation of him and his servants begins.
"The Devil Is Not Mocked" is available on YouTube as of this writing. The following are a few stills from that "Night Gallery" episode and apparently Francis Lederer had no problems with wearing fangs as he was playing a more traditional Dracula.

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Returning to 1959 I believe we should look at "Terror Is A Man", because it is the actor's final true motion picture appearance.

The film has an historical significance of sorts as being the first recognized Filipino/American Horror movie. As for plot substitute Francis Lederer's Dr Charles Girard for H.G. Wells' Dr. Moreau and you have the basic idea. The three leads are good and so is Flory Carlos as the creation a panther changed into a man. In short this film is not as bad as one might think and the script, although talkie at times, has a tendency to keep a viewers interest.

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Besides "Night Gallery" from 1960 through 1971 Francis Lederer had eleven other television appearances on such shows as "The Untouchables", "Ben Casey" and "Mission Impossible". However, the Rod Sterling's show was his last actual acting appearance on either the large, or small screen. There is a 1991 documentary about Austrian born film maker G.W. Pabst who made "Pandora's Box" with an interview with Lederer about the film. Along with another 1994 documentary of Louise Brooks that he participated in.

Even though his acting career had gone down Francis Lederer had been investing in real estate and was becoming a fairly wealthy man while teaching on Tuesdays at his Studio City Drama School. At some point he also helped create the International Academy of Performing Arts" in Washington, D.C.

On January 17, 1994 at 4:30:55 AM PST the 6.7 Northridge Earthquake struck Los Angeles. As a result Francis Lederer's home in West Hills was severely damaged. Marion and Francis Lederer moved to the desert community of Palm Springs and reconstruction began in West Hills. The fact that he was now living 120 miles from Studio City did not stop the actor from making the drive every Tuesday back and forth to teach his acting students. He would continue this routine, according to Marion, every Tuesday up until a few weeks before his death.

On stage Francis Lederer appeared as the father in the National Touring Compant of the play "The Diary of Ann Frank" and believed so deeply in the play's message. That he also performed versions at schools around the Los Angeles area.

From  the Los Angeles Times:

November 4, 1999 | KARIMA A. HAYNES
Francis Lederer, a longtime West Valley resident and former matinee idol who celebrates his 100th birthday this week, was recognized by the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday. Councilwoman Laura Chick presented Lederer with a resolution citing his acting credits on stage, in film and television and his civic activism as a commissioner for the city's Department of Recreation and Parks and Department of Cultural Affairs.

At the start of 2000 the Austrian Government awarded Francis Lederer the "Cross of Honor for Arts and Science, First Class". On May 25, 2000 Francis Lederer passed away at the age of 100 having lived a full life and left a legacy that is still on going to students of the school he founded today.

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