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|Born||Josephine Rose Lederer
March 18, 1910
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Died||June 11, 1935
Los Angeles, California, United States
Early life & career
Josephine Rose Lederer was born in Chicago in 1910 and later formally adopted the name Pepi. Her mother, Reine Davies (née Douras) was a stage actress and the sister of Rosemary Davies and Marion Davies, while her father, George Lederer, produced musical comedies.
After her aunt Marion began a long-term affair with William Randolph Hearst, Hearst took responsibility for the accommodation of Pepi and her several siblings, who included Charlie Lederer, later a well-known screenwriter. She spent a good deal of her youth at Hearst Castle.
The Hearsts took the ambitions of her brother seriously and relegated Pepi to a few small parts in movies such as The Cardboard Lover.
Increasingly restless with her stalled career and her suspicions that she was only valued by others insofar as she could initiate them into the luxurious world of the Hearst family, she moved to London.
She returned to New York in 1930 and, shortly after New Year's Eve 1929 was shocked to discover she was pregnant, but due to complications she had the pregnancy aborted. She was a close friend of actress Louise Brooks, and Brooks spoke of her often in later years. Though she was considered a captivating personality, Lederer had a voracious appetite for rich food, alcohol, and eventually, cocaine. Lederer was also openly lesbian within acting circles. Whether she and close friend Louise Brooks were ever involved romantically is not certain, since Brooks wrote in her biography that she had affairs with two women, Greta Garbo being one and the other being unnamed. Lederer was also close friends with actress Tallulah Bankhead, but whether they were involved romantically is not known for certain.
In 1935, her drug addiction worsening, Lederer was committed by Davies and Hearst to a mental hospital, to receive a drug cure. Shortly afterward, she jumped out of a window, dying instantly after falling several floors. She was 25 years old.
- Callahan, Dan. "Louise Brooks". Bright Lights Film Journal. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
- Brooks, Louise. Lulu in Hollywood: Expanded Edition, p. 33. Twin Cities: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.