Old Hollywood Actor’s Dreamy Hacienda Transports You to Alta California

Dirt March 4, 2023


Old Hollywood Actor’s Dreamy Hacienda Transports You to Alta California

By Pauline O'Connor

Born in Prague in 1899, Franz Lederer gravitated toward the world of the theater while still a young boy. After receiving training at his hometown’s prestigious Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Lederer embarked on a successful stage career that saw him appearing in productions all over Europe. In the late 1920s, Lederer began acting in motion pictures as well, with one of his very first parts being the male lead opposite Louise Brooks in German director G.W. Pabst’s classic silent film “Pandora’s Box.”

In the early 1930s, with virulent anti-Semitism beginning to flare up across Europe in lockstep with the Nazi regime’s rise to power, Lederer, who was Jewish, immigrated to America. The handsome young actor had little difficulty establishing a career in Hollywood, landing leading roles opposite such silver screen sirens as Claudette Colbert, Ginger Rogers, and Joan Bennett.

In 1934, the same year he shot his first American films, Lederer also began constructing a residence and ranch for himself on a sizable swath of acreage he purchased in the San Fernando Valley. Known as Owensmouth at the time, the area in which Lederer’s land was located was subsequently renamed Canoga Park, and later, given the name it now goes by, West Hills.

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